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Learning Disabilities and Self-Esteem

Aug 18, 2007
So your child has been diagnosed as having a learning disability. What's your next move? You may feel disappointed or discouraged, but you need to realize that these feelings are temporary and shouldn't be communicated to your child. While it's important that you acknowledge your feelings, make sure that you do so with an appropriate person, such as your spouse, partner or a close friend, not your child. Children have very fragile self-esteem and they tend to internalize things, so parents will want to avoid giving their children any sort of negative messages about their learning disability. Otherwise, parents run the risk of having their children think that they're somehow at fault for their learning problems. A much better and more productive way to handle this situation is to be as positive and nurturing as possible. This is easily accomplished through the
following simple steps:

1. Inform yourself
The more you know about your child's learning disability, the easier it will be for you to deal with it effectively. There are a host of excellent online
resources available to parents of children with learning disabilities. Along with excellent articles on everything from treatment options to an easy-to-understand breakdown of the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), these sites feature links to
local learning disability specialists and support groups.

2. Show a little sympathy
Keep in mind that any frustration you may feel is small in comparison to what your child is going through. After all, he or she is the one that has to
learn the strategies necessary to making the most of his or her educational opportunities. The best you can do is support your child and have faith in his or her perseverance. Even if a particular treatment option doesn't work, know that there are others available and don't give up. Hope that you will find one that works for your child.

3. Look on the bright side
Sure, things may look bleak at first, but keep in mind how lucky you are to have caught the disability when you did. Some people manage to make it all the way to adulthood without knowing that they have a learning disorder, which causes them to experience unnecessary difficulty in school and at work. You should also make sure to communicate to your child that their learning disability is just one aspect of their lives. It's not the entirety of who they are, although it may take considerable time and effort to work through these issues. Keeping the problem in perspective will allow your child to do what's necessary to overcome it without being overwhelmed by the challenge this poses.

4. Enhance the positive
Focus on all the things your child can do, rather than what they're currently unable to. This doesn't just mean praising what they have no trouble doing, but every step they make along the way in learning how to work with their disability. Any progress they make should be noted and praised, which will encourage them to keep on going. When your child feels like you're backing them, it will be that much easier for them to reach their potential.
About the Author
Jane Saeman runs an In-Home Tutoring service called Aim High Tutors. Find out about how to help your student reach their full potential at http://www.aimhightutors.com/blog
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