Tips to support emotional needs of kids with learning disabilities
When kids are diagnosed with a learning disability, most parents worry about how it will affect their school performance. It is important to understand that a learning disability may also affect the child emotionally. It isn’t easy for children when they see themselves falling behind their peers at school and it can be a demoralizing experience for them.
Here are some signs that a kid with learning disabilities may be struggling emotionally:
- Lowered self-esteem
- Increased anxiety
- Increased sadness or irritability
- Acting out
- Physical symptoms like headaches or stomach aches
- Reduced motivation
In addition to getting kids help for learning disabilities, parents should also think about the emotional needs of a child. If you notice signs that your child is struggling, find out the specific cause of the same. Here are three common reasons why kids might feel bad about their learning disability and what you should do about it:
- Kids might feel they are not smart
Children who don’t learn at the same pace as others might feel that they aren’t smart. They might keep believing this even after they are diagnosed with a learning disability and find fault with themselves. Here is what you should do if your child feels this way:
- Ensure that your child understand what a learning disability is. Hearing explicitly that a learning disability has nothing to do with intelligence can be very meaningful to kids.
- Talk about learning disability with your child and whoever is working with him. A learning expert can help you find developmentally appropriate language to use.
- Send the right message. Children are very sensitive to their parents’ emotions, and if they sense that you are uncomfortable with their diagnosis, they might feel the same way.
- Examine your own feelings. Learning disabilities can be genetic and seeing a child struggle can bring back difficult memories for parents or make them feel guilty. Schedule a separate appointment to discuss your concerns with your child’s therapist and find ways to stay positive.
- Kids feel they stand out in class
When kids get pulled out of class for tutoring or are called on by teacher for something they may not be able to deliver, they may feel embarrassed. Having this experience regularly can affect a child’s self-esteem. Here is what you can do to help:
- Ask teachers to be sensitive to how your kid feels. It is important to work with the school and help your child’s teacher understand how their learning disability is affecting him emotionally.
- Praise the child when possible. Kids who are struggling in school may feel like they are getting only negative attention. When teachers make an effort to give positive attention to kids for things they are doing right, it can help boost a child’s confidence.
- Kids are worn out
Learning disabilities in children often mean that the kids need to work harder than their peers. This might mean spending more time doing homework, going for extra classes, and working with an educational therapist. All this can leave the kids feeling frustrated and lead to lack of motivation in school. Here is what you should do:
- Remember that success brings about success. Therapists, teachers and parents should consciously set modest, achievable goals that children can work towards meeting. When a child sees himself progressing, he are likely to continue putting more effort.
- Find their talent. This is very important for a child with learning disability. Every child has a talent. Find that something that your child feels good about doing and encourage him for doing it. This gives them a sense of mastery and accomplishment. As their talent grows, so will their confidence, self-esteem and happiness.
These are some of the ways in which you can emotionally support a child with learning disabilities. Little steps can go a long way in helping them gain the confidence that they desperately need.