By: Anusha Khurram

If you have a child with a learning disability, you may know how challenging it can be for them. Children with learning disabilities, such as dyslexia or ADHD, need support and encouragement to help them develop. It is important for parents to look at the big picture when considering learning disabilities because it does not require you to ‘fix’ or ‘cure’ them but simply to help the child through their experience. Getting support from family, friends, and community members is essential to help keep them motivated to learn and improve their confidence despite their differences. 

The following are a few ways you can help your child with learning disabilities:

1. Praise effort: Recognizing that your child is doing the best they can is critical to their development as they deal with a learning disability. They may not always have the right answer on a test but celebrating the effort they put into their work will encourage motivation and confidence, which can benefit them as they grow older. Even if this is a process throughout their time at school, they must know they have your support for the effort and time they put toward their tasks.

2. Focus on strengths: Every child has strengths and weaknesses. Focusing on what your child is good at will help build their self-esteem and encourage them to participate in school and even family activities. When children are not reminded of their strengths in a positive way, they may feel unmotivated and afraid to contribute. Focusing on strengths gives your child a good starting point for how they can learn more effectively.

3. Educate your child on their disability: Make sure your child is aware of their learning disability and that it is a normal part of them. Making it a taboo topic leads to your child thinking it is something they should be ashamed of. Normalize having open conversations about the disorder and what the child needs to overcome it. This will allow them to not only get clear about what helps but will also remove the stigma around the topic.

4. Advocate for your kids: For any parent, it’s important that you take an active role in your child’s education. For children with learning disabilities, this is especially critical. There are challenges with relying on the school and teachers to advocate for your child specifically. Take steps to communicate with all parties, including your child and their teachers, to come up with an effective plan for them. This will involve setting goals and tracking their progress. Your child deserves the same level of education as everyone else, which means they need the tools necessary to help them achieve that.

5. Emphasize a healthy lifestyle. Children who have a healthy lifestyle will typically be able to focus better and work harder. Exercise, sleep and healthy eating are essential to fuel the body and mind. While learning disabilities do not have a cure, there are ways you can help your child achieve their best. Additionally, living a physically active and healthy lifestyle is also essential in regulating emotional patterns. Being different from their peers may cause your child to experience complicated emotions, so giving them resources to work through them will better help them feel more comfortable in their learning environment.

Final Thoughts

Helping children with learning disabilities can be challenging for both the child and the parents. It’s common for parents to blame themselves for their child’s disabilities or even direct their frustrations onto the child at times. Be sure to consider your mental health as you cope with managing your child’s disabilities as well as your child’s mental health as they navigate their experience. It’s also important to check in on your child’s progress while holding a space for them to express their difficulties. Ensure they know that nothing is “wrong” with them but that their brains just work differently. Having supportive parents is key not only for children experiencing learning disabilities but for all children in general.