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parenting children with learning disabilities


What do you think the most important factor is in making sure your LD child succeeds?

I asked this question to a wide-variety of people: friends, clients, and acquaintances. It didn’t matter whether they were rich or poor, immigrant or native to the U.S. since the Mayflower.

Nor did it matter what color they were. The most popular answers were: money, having access to the best therapies, or having the time and patience to do all that needs to be done, in that order.


I’ve been in this field for more than 20 years, and if there’s one factor that I’ve seen over and over again, is that someone in that child’s life has to be able to hold on to the dream of that child’s success.

That person doesn’t have to be a mother or father. They don’t even have to be a relative. It could be a teacher, a neighbor, or even the man at the kiosk stand down the street. But it has to be someone who stands with their back to the wind, plants their feet, and is ready to stand up for that child, do or die.

Not many people can do that. Not many people can look an expert in the face – the one with three degrees and the prices to prove it – and say “You’re wrong. My child WILL do better than that.”

There aren’t a lot of people who can face the criticism, the rolling of the eyeballs, the knowing smiles, and the pity parties.

What a shame that Amy Chua gave a bad name to the term “Tiger Mom.” Because it’s not so often that a Tiger Mom has to put on the big red boxing gloves and fight – Mohammed Ali style – the establishment.

Most of the time it means sticking to the straight path day after day, week after week, making your way through a jungle of regressions, discontent, and sameness.

But it can be done. Here are 3 tips that will help you do just that:

Keep one foot in the future – but leave the other in the present.

A dream keeper has one foot in the future – but the other one in the present. Yes, you need to have a vision of what your child’s future can be. But you need to break those goals into bite-sized pieces, bits that you can tackle one by one, on a daily basis.

Find someone to share the journey with.

You may read about one-man journeys to Kilimanjaro, or solo hikes through the Amazon. From the outside, it looks as if it one person did all the fancy footwork. In reality, however, you can’t succeed alone. You need someone, maybe even a few someones- to help you celebrate the good and the bad.

Celebrate the little things.

Living with a child who has learning disabilities means there will be times when nothing seems to work. Times when you just can’t take it anymore, and you hate yourself for even thinking of giving up. Times when everything you do seems to take you back to a brick wall that’s impossible to climb.

The truth is, that you will almost never have the really big moment where everything suddenly goes right. The child who has reading problems won’t just stand up and read Anna Karenina with feeling and intent. The child who’s failed on nearly every single math test since school started won’t start spouting Einstein’s theory of relativity.

Life just doesn’t work that way.

But there will be days when you watch your child read the next paragraph in her reader – and she won’t stumble on every word. The day will come when your son finally remembers all of the multiples of number 8.

Take those moments, hold them gently in your hand, and hold on tight to each one. And yes, celebrate the success that each one is. Because true success – long lasting success- is made up of a thousand small ones.


Originally posted 2012-01-17 00:52:22.

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Trying to encourage, cajole, and eventually threaten your child into doing their homework can be a trying experience. It can be frustrating that something that seems as basic as homework has to be contested night after night. However, there are some practices you can put in place in your house that will help finally obtain a peace treaty with the beleaguered other party- your child.

1. Make sure you have a consistent time and place where your child is expected to do his homework. This might seem obvious, but it’s amazing how many parents know they should do this-but don’t. Doing so sets the expectation that homework is important enough to require a designated space.

Make sure it is a place relatively free from distraction. Keep in mind, however, that some extroverts need to be around people in order to get work done.

Other children insist they need to hear music in order to concentrate. If in doubt, you can always give your child a trial period, where you allow her to work under certain conditions as long as the quantity and quality of her homework make the grade. Be very clear at the start how long that trial period will last, and be specific what sort of grades you expect to see.

2. Keep a separate set of supplies near the homework area. This is another obvious one, but some parents for some reason resist on principle. Believe me, it will save you a lot of time if you make sure your child has that extra set of materials. Not only is it more convenient, but it also decreases the chance of things getting lost or forgotten at home due to being pulled out of their accustomed places.

3. Help your child anticipate how much time she thinks each assignment will take. Often children will resist homework because they imagine it will take hours and hours. Briefly scan the assignment with your child, asking her to guess how much time she thinks it will take. When she completes each assignment, have her write down the time it actually took to complete, next to her estimate. Usually it is much less than the child imagined.

If it took more time than your child estimated, help them to analyze  the situation in order to get a handle on why it took longer. Were there concepts that she didn’t understand? Did she follow the directions  exactly? Did she get distracted? All of factors can be taken into account in the future.

4. Set a timer. If your child finds it hard to sit for long stretches, set a timer to go off after a set period of time, such a 15-20 minutes. Then give your child a break. The key to this working is not to let the child leave the homework area, because then you’ll be spending the next half-hour trying to round them up again.

If your child would like to choose this option (and stress that it is a choice), then they can have the break in their homework area. It’ s also preferable to make it a cardio break: encourage your child to do a  bit of intense exercise, enough to get them breathing a little bit faster. This can be a great help in getting rid of the tension that sometimes builds up when we have to do something we don’t like to do.

5. Make sure your child is actually capable of doing the homework. Sometimes a child will resist homework in a particular class because the homework is really not a review; the material is new, and the teacher expects the parent to teach the child concepts barely covered in class.

If this seems like it might be the case with your child, speak with the other parents in the class in order to confirm your suspicion. If you  are correct, you can try bringing it up to the teacher in a non- confrontational manner. It could be she is being pressured to cover a lot of ground. If this is the case, however, this is due to administrative policy, and you may need to get together with other parents in order to tackle the issue.

The other possibility is that your child might have unrevealed learning differences. Don’t assume that just because your child has done well in the pastmeans that he can’t be having difficulty now . As your child passes through school, the skills required deepen or change. New vocabulary, an ability to synthesize new information, increased memory demands-all can be the downfall of a previously successful child.

If in sitting down with your child you see that your child really cannot   understand or finds it difficult to remember the material, then an evaluation might be the key to helping your child.

Originally posted 2010-09-05 19:41:15.

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