Building Self-Esteem in a Child with a Learning Disorder

February 20, 2019

Does your child have a learning disability? While it’s important to help a child with a learning disability to develop the basic skills taught in the classroom, what is equally important, and often overlooked, is helping that child to develop a healthy self-esteem in the face of this challenge. So how do you do that?

Talk to your child about the difference between learning disabilities and intelligence.

Recognize that many children with learning disabilities feel that they are not as smart as their peers. Help your child understand that a learning disability has nothing to do with how intelligent they are. By definition, a learning disability only affects a person’s ability to develop particular skills—it doesn’t change their IQ or overall intellectual ability.

Talk to your child’s teacher.

Work with your child’s teacher to develop a plan for helping your child succeed in the classroom. Children need to experience repeated successes to build self-esteem and confidence. Ask your child’s teacher to set their student up for success rather than failure. Any comparison should be with how much a child has progressed from past efforts, not how they measure up to their peers. And making sure to recognize achievements frequently can boost your child’s confidence and inspire them to keep trying.

Help your child find their talent.

Everyone has something they’re good at. Help your child to identify an area they excel in. It might be academic—perhaps they struggle with reading but math comes easily to them—but it doesn’t have to be. Talents like drawing or singing can help a child feel that they have something of value to offer. And be sure to point out not-so-obvious talents too: Maybe your child has a gift for making friends, is extra creative with Legos, or is a great helper at home.

Praise your child often.

Children are highly tuned to the emotions of their parents. Develop a positive attitude and give frequent, sincere praise for your child’s talents, successes, and efforts. This can go a long way toward boosting your child’s self-esteem and helping them to see how unique and valuable they are.

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