How to Handle 5 Common Concerns About Kids Who Think and Learn Differently
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-All parents care about their children.
-Your concerns may be different when your child thinks and learns differently.
-It can help to have effective ways to handle your concerns.
All parents care about their children. They often ask themselves: Are they healthy? Will they be happy? But when your child thinks or learns differently, his worries can be greater, and at times, this can make him feel defeated.
You may worry that you are not doing all you can to help your child. Or you may be concerned about how your difficulties will affect your future. It is not unusual to have these thoughts. But learning to manage your worries, even if it is difficult, is important.
These are some common concerns and productive ways to address them.
1. You are concerned about your child's future
Why You May Be Concerned: Even if your child is very young, concerns about his future after high school are common . If your child has executive function difficulties
, you may be concerned about your ability to acquire skills that allow you to live independently .
If you are struggling academically, you might wonder if you will be successful in college or vocational school. You may be concerned that you will be able to find and keep a job , or that you may develop the social skills necessary to have good relationships as an adult.
Ways to handle it: Focus on what you can do now. If your child is 7 years old, it will not help him to worry about what will happen when he is 18. Focus on how you can address his needs today, and that way you will be building the foundation for him to be successful in the future.
2. You are concerned about your child's self-esteem.
Why You May Be Concerned: When your child has a difference in the way he thinks or learns, things may be a little more difficult for him. Self- esteem is linked not only to the value that people give themselves, but also to how capable they feel. You may be concerned that your child's challenges will make you feel pessimistic about himself and his abilities.
Ways to handle it: Make an effort to help your child develop self-esteem . Being supportive and realistic can help your child find ways to value himself. Provide specific praise and be sure to acknowledge your child's efforts in a way that reinforces his self-esteem and self- evaluation.
Teaching your child to advocate for himself can also help you feel more confident that he recognizes and values your abilities.
Listen to a group of parents talk about how they keep their kids motivated.
3. You are concerned that your child will be labeled
Why You May Be Concerned: Some parents believe that naming their child's differences can be harmful. You could create labels that others use to define your child. You might be concerned about people making assumptions if they know, for example, that “Molly has
”. And it may make you uneasy that when you talk to your child about your differences , you seem to be labeling him, too.
Ways to handle it: It may help to try to think of a diagnosis as a way to get the supports and services your child needs. It is a way of understanding their concerns and helping you both get what your child needs to be successful. Like many famous people , your child may feel empowered by that “tag” and wear it with pride.
4. You are concerned about your child's progress in school
Why You May Be Concerned: You may be concerned that your child finds school difficult. You may have problems in class because of your differences in the way you learn, or in general with your classmates. You may be worried that other kids harass or have difficulty making friends .
Ways to handle it: Develop a positive relationship with your child's school. Having a good relationship with your child's teachers can reassure him and keep communication open. And knowing that there is a clear plan to address their learning and social needs can make you feel more confident about your child's ability to thrive in school.
It is also helpful to have an honest dialogue with your child . Ask him often how he feels at school and with his friends. This gives you the opportunity to help you solve your problems before they get too big.
5. You are concerned about your ability to help
Why you might be concerned: You are not always sure what things will help your child who thinks and learns differently. And it may worry you that if you can't “fix” the problem, you won't be able to find ways to help and support you.
Ways to handle it: Know that you don't have to go it alone or have all the answers. Having a child who thinks and learns differently can make you feel isolated, but there are people you can ask for help. Your child's school team, doctor, family members, and other parents who have children with similar challenges can help.
Consider joining the Understood Community to share ideas and recommendations with other parents and conveniently ask questions.
You could share these concerns or have others. But having them can be a great encouragement to find ways to help your child, as well as yourself.
Learn how to avoid overprotecting your child because of your worries. Read a father's story about how he got over the guilt of “passing” ADHD to his son. And find out how one family learned to focus on props instead of labels .
-Focusing on how you can help your child now can help you eliminate your fears in the future.
-Working with your child's school for solutions can reduce your worries.
-Connecting with families who have similar concerns can make you feel supported.