Parents and other adults can be very helpful in providing kids with a long-term view. Things that seem like insurmountable problems now may improve or become less important later. In fact, children who hate school one year can do a complete turnaround a year or two later if they find more sympathetic friends, for example, or a more understanding teacher or something in school they really enjoy.
What your child may be trying to tell you
- I'm embarrassed that I need extra help.
- I don't feel successful at school.
- I feel different from everyone else.
How you can respond to your child
- Be careful not to dismiss your child's feelings.
- Help your child put his learning difficulties into perspective.
- Help your child understand that everyone has different strengths and weaknesses.
Encourage the child who struggles
Be careful not to dismiss your child's feelings
Ask him what it is about school that he hates. Is he having difficulty with other kids or with adults? Does he feel like he is being treated fairly? Is he getting enough academic support? Get specific so that you can find the source of these strong emotions and can begin addressing them with your child before he gives up on himself as a student.
Help your child put his learning difficulties into perspective
Impress upon your child that there is no shame in having a learning disability. Just as some students need glasses to help them learn, your child may need assistance from educational specialists to help him learn. Help him recognize that the specialists aren't there to "pick on him" or make him feel stupid in front of his peers. They are there to coach him and to teach him the skills he needs so he won't need their help anymore.
The goal is for him to find a way to live with his learning difference that will allow him to become successful, achieve independence, and reach his potential. Share with your child the many examples of people who did not shine when they were in school, but who found great success in their careers or by pursuing their interests.
Help your child understand that everyone has different strengths and weaknesses
Every student brings different strengths and needs to a class. Your child may be overly sensitive about his differences and be convinced that he is the only one who is "different."
Point out that while it is true that your child may not be the best reader in his class, he has strengths that he can contribute that help make his class a special community in which to learn. Generate a list together of people inside and outside of school whom he can help and the skills he can use to help them. He can teach another student how to draw bubble letters or how to do a flip on the monkey bars. He can also think of ways to help his neighbors as well as the local and world community in which he belongs. This will enable him to see that he is part of something much bigger than himself and that he is able to make real contributions to it. He will be able to experience success, to feel needed, and to see himself as someone more complex than just a student with a learning difference or disability.