When a child is diagnosed with a learning disability many parents feel devastated and scared. They ask themselves “What will my child’s future be like?” “Will they be successful?” Parents must realize that to achieve success, a child with a learning disability must focus on their strengths, know their weaknesses and discover learning strategies for dealing with difficulties.
Other tips for helping your child feel successful are:
- Develop their self esteem: When a child struggles at school, it is important to find other areas in their life where they can feel successful and happy. Time with friends, an after school activity that they enjoy and encouraging independence can be helpful. An independent child feels capable, in control and empowered. Praise them for their strengths and encourage their abilities.
- Teach your child emotional coping strategies: Many feelings come hand in hand with having a learning disability. Children need to be taught how to cope with anger, frustration, sadness and fear. They need to be taught ways to manage stress by using relaxation techniques, proper breathing and exercise.
- Have support systems in place: It is key that any child have someone that they can turn to for emotional support, reassurance and guidance. For children with learning disabilities it is equally important, if not more important that they have people in their lives that they can turn to. These people should be nonjudgmental, empathetic and good at listening.
- Teach problem solving skills: Children with learning disabilities need to learn to ask for help, set goals, advocate on behalf of themselves and persevere no matter how tough something seems. It is also necessary for them to have realistic expectations and be aware of what learning strategies work best for them.
- Help your child feel special and appreciated: There’s nothing better that you can give your child than love. If your child feels safe, secure and appreciated, then their chances of success are high. Spend time together, talk together and accept your child for who they are- their strengths and their weaknesses.
Children who grow up with learning disabilities can achieve success- but not without help. Fostering their success requires patience, understanding and determination. Parents will need to be partners with their child’s school, including those that specialize in teaching children with learning disabilities. Working together as a team will enable your child to have the best head start and the best chance for a successful future.
As a Parent Educator and Family Therapist, Susan Lieberman has spent almost 15 years helping kids, teens and adults move towards happier and healthy lifestyles. For more information on children with learning disabilities, please visit www.familysupport.net