Often children with learning difficulties become aware of their struggles with schoolwork from a young age. If they are not aware that they have a learning difficulty, their struggles with reading, writing and maths can cause them to feel less smart than their peers, which can leave them prone to developing low self-esteem, anxiety and isolation. As a parent, you can help prevent feelings of shame and embarrassment by having open conversations with your child to help them understand what their learning difficulty is and how it effects their learning.
Talking regularly with your child about their learning difficulty can help them build confidence and self-acceptance and give them the tools to communicate their differences to others. When they begin to better understand their difficulties, they can gain the independence to navigate challenging tasks by trying new strategies, problem solving and seeking additional support.
Here are 5 things to consider when talking to your child about their learning difficulty.
Tips for discussing learning difficulties with children
Create an open and ongoing dialogue
Discussing your child’s learning difficulty should not be a single conversation. It should be an ongoing dialogue that unfolds and evolves throughout your child’s life. A younger child is not likely to understand all the complexities of their learning difficulty so try to keep the discussion simple by translating clinical terms into language they’ll understand and focus on practical strategies to support them. As your child grows older and develops a deeper understanding of their own abilities, you can begin to have more detailed conversations about their specific diagnosis.
Recognise their strengths
When talking to your child about their challenges it is important to also highlight their strengths and achievements. Acknowledging your child’s achievements, whether they are in other areas of their schooling or in recreational activities, will help them to feel capable and successful, despite their learning difficulty.
While it is important to spend time working on the skills that they find challenging, make time for the activities they excel in and enjoy to reinforce their capabilities.
The emotions you convey when communicating with your child can have a significant impact on how they perceive themselves and their learning difficulty. While you may feel concerned about your child’s progress, try to keep an objective and neutral tone when discussing their struggles and avoid expressing any feelings of sadness or frustration that may cause them to feel inadequate.
Children with learning difficulties can sometimes feel that there is something ‘wrong’ with them, especially when they are unable to complete a task in the same way as their peers. Instead of focusing on your child’s difficulties, reframe your language to talk about difference. Explain to them that their brain thinks and learns differently to others so they might need to try different methods from their friends.
It can also be helpful to show them that everyone has different strengths and challenges by talking about the things you find challenging.
Find resources to support
It is okay not to have all the answers or know how to explain a learning difficulty to your child. If you are not sure how to communicate with your child about their challenges, look for resources that can help guide you through the conversation. For younger children, this might be books or tv shows that include characters who experience similar difficulties to them while for older children, this could be blogs, forums or podcasts that provide information and practical strategies to help navigate their learning difficulty.
How can Learning Links help children with learning difficulties?
Whichever methods you choose to use to support your child, know that you are not alone as you navigate this journey to help your child succeed and thrive. Learning Links offers a range of resources and services to support you and your chid.
Assessment – Learning Links’ psychologists conduct assessments to evaluate learning and can make a formal diagnosis of specific learning difficulty. Read more >
Specialist Tutoring – Learning Links’ qualified teachers provide tailored literacy intervention programs to support the development of reading and maths skills using engaging resources and games. Read more >
Parent Webinars – Our education, therapy and psychology professionals run a range of parent webinars to empower parents and carers with information, practical strategies and tools, so they can provide the best possible support for their children’s learning at home. Read more >
For more information on how Learning Links may be able to further support you and your child, call our team on 1300 003 900.
AUSPELD – Understanding Learning Difficulties
VIC Department of Education and Training – Learning Difficulties Information Guide
What is a Learning Difficulty?
There are a variety of things that may indicate that your child is struggling at school. Here is a checklist of signs for parents to help you know whether to seek additional support.