If you’re like most parents, then I bet you think you’re doing everything you can to help your child be successful.
Okay, maybe not everything you should be doing – but a lot.
Between the music lessons, art therapy, private tutors, hyperbaric therapy and special gluten/casein-free diet, there isn’t much more you could fit in – or so you imagine.
But what if I told you about the one thing you might be doing that actually increases your child’s chances of failure?
Success isn’t about having the best teachers or being the smartest kid in the class.
Maybe you think your child is guaranteed to be a success if you follow the magic formula: the most demanding curriculum, taught by the best teachers, at the best schools. Followed up of course, by the latest in educational software and extracurricular “enrichment.”
It’s downright frustrating dealing with a child who gives up easily.
It can be frustrating dealing with a child who gives up easily.
Whether your child melts down at the first sign of trouble, or does a quite fade into the background, your child needs to learn how to be persistent until they get what they need.
Children who give up easily have trouble handling frustration.
One reason some children give up easily is because they can’t handle it when things don’t go they way they want or expect them to.
That doesn’t mean that they’re spoiled or unrealistic, however. Often, children with learning disabilities simply don’t know what to do. Difficulty with sequencing skills, for example, could mean that if never occurs to your child to ask you for help when things go awry.
At the same time, children with weak language skills might not know how to ask for help effectively: they may not know exactly what to say, or might say it in a manner not appropriate for their age.
Try these 3 tips in order to help your child learn how to stick to his guns:
From the moment our wrinkled red faces hit the light of this world, until our (hopefully) ancient bones are laid to rest forever, we are subject to rules.
Rules that say how we should be put to sleep in our certifiably-safe beds, what clothes we should we wear, what schools we should go to, and who we should be friends with.
Call it safety measures, etiquette, common sense, guidelines, social graces, or actual honest to goodness written in the lawbooks laws, most of us feel obligated to follow most of them most of the time – and do so with very little question on our parts.
Are you a consummate follower of rules?
When it comes to raising kids with LD, a lot of us –myself included – follow the same path. In fact, I’m the consummate rule-follower. When one of my sons was younger, he had some pretty big language delays. By the time he was in first grade, he only knew about 6 or 7 letters of the alphabet.
Of course, we were doing everything that the rules said we should be doing. Speech therapy twice a week since he was three. A tutor who worked hard on all the skills the school felt he needed. We even held him back, because the school said that would be the best thing for him: they promised that when he caught up, they’d bump him up right back to where he belonged.
Well, we followed that path through the woods without too much complaint, because we thought we could see that tasty little house up ahead with the fruit-flavored gumdrops and organic cookies.
Until our son was nearly eaten alive by the evil witch.
As a parent, it can be devastating to watch your child try –and fail – to make friends.
Watching your child strike out in school or at the playground is almost physically painful for most parents.
And when well-meaning attempts at matchmaking fail, it can leave parents just as angry at their own child as they are with his schoolmates.
Sending your child to preschool or a playgroup isn’t the solution.
Many parents who notice their child has trouble making friends assume that sending them to preschool or day care will do the trick. The assumption of course, is that by being together in a group with other children, your child is bound to make some friends.
In fact, the opposite is sometimes true. Most children who have trouble making friends find large groups overwhelming and unpredictable. They don’t possess the skills they need to get along with one child; a larger group just makes things worse.
Arrange playdates with one other child, and use the following tips to make sure everything goes smoothly:
Knowing how to blend words is an essential reading skill. But if you thought blending words means seeing the letters c-a-t and sounding them out until you said the word “cat,” then you’d be only half right.
Children who are able to blend words successfully also have another critical skill: they are able to recognize what a word is after seeing just a few letters. In the word “cat,” for example, a good reader will know what the word is after the she sees the letter “a.” While technically the word could have been can, car, or cap, a good reader will use context (and pictures, at this age) to tell her what the meaning is.
Good readers do more than just blend letterstogether.
In fact, most good readers never read an entire word, letter by letter: they recognize the word in its entirety after a few letters, and them on to the next word.
As studies that tracked readers’ eye movements show, this allows them to read quickly, and fairly accurately, since they constantly check the meaning of the word from the context of the sentence as they go along.
Being able to determine what a word is when seeing a part of it is due to having good visual closure skills. You can help strengthen your child’s visual closure skills by having them build puzzles, solve I Spy’s or other hidden pictures, and by playing Spot the Difference games. A great site for hidden pictures is http://www.highlightskids.com/hidden-pictures, especially since you can adjust the level of difficulty.
Want 3 extra hands on learning games based on the same book?
By the way, if you’re a subscriber, check you e-mail. I just sent you a bonus game based on the book, PLUS a few new ways to play the game included in this post. If you’re haven’t subscribed, subscribe by Monday Feb. 16 and I’ll make sure you get your hands on one too…
Instructions on how to play are in the PDF of the game.
In this step, you’re trying to get more information on what’s going on with your child. In order to do this, you need a broader picture: you need to know when, where, and how often he acts out. [click to continue…]
Raising kids is a lot like riding on a monster roller coaster. Half the time you’re going up the hill, anticipating the drop on the other side.
The other half of the time you spend screaming your head off and wishing you could get the heck off – and whoever said this was fun anyway?
Sometimes trying to figure out what went wrong feels like Mission Impossible.
Sometimes it’s something that’s popped its ugly head out in the space of a day or so, kind of like the time I woke up and found a massive colony of army ants had invaded the girls’ bedroom. Other times it’s something that sort of crept up on you slowly, like mold in the bathroom shower. One day you wake up and decide that behavior has got to go.
Either way, parents are often at a loss when it comes to figuring out how to get their child’s behavior back on a (relatively) even keel.
In order to help you out, I’ve compiled a series of posts that will help you determine why your child is acting out, what to do about it, and more importantly, how to make sure that behavior doesn’t come back. [click to continue…]
Use this great online book to improve your child’s memory and sequencing skills.
As I was browsing the web a few weeks ago I stumbled across a great site for online children’s books: wegivebooks.org. There are over 160 online books to choose from, and unlike other sites I’ve found, many of the books are classic or popular children’s books.
Books, for example, like “Llama llama in Pajamas” or “The Snowy Day” sit happily alongside my favorite version of “The Little Engine that Could.”
Perhaps the nicest thing about this site – other than the fact that it’s free – is that you can choose to donate a book to one of their literary partners, which is a nice way of sharing the fun of reading with those who really need it.
One of my favorite books on the site is called “Goodnight iPad.” A spoof on “Goodnight Moon,” it’s a poke at our 24/7 connectivity to technology. In it, a grandmother sits in a rocking chair trying to find a little bit of peace and quiet, which of course is impossible due to the various beeps, clicks, and dings from iPads, gameboys, and other household electronic necessities.
Grandma decides to take things in her own hands, and starts dumping everything out of the window, to the great distress of every one in the family except the baby, who was until then wandering around the house like a lost puppy.
The illustrations are great; close enough to the original but with a humor of their own. Both you and your kids will love it, and maybe it will inspire you to unplug the family for an hour or so, and get some much needed downtime.
I had such fun reading this book that I decided to use it as the basis of a hands on sequencing game for the modern child:
Goal of the game:
The point of this game is to help your child strengthen her memory and her sequencing skills by reading the story and sequencing the pictures provided below.
1. Read “Goodnight iPad” to your child. As you read each electronic item, have your child find the picture of it and place it in order on the table.
2. After you’ve read 3 items, mix up the items, and have your child put them back in order. Make sure she names each one aloud as she places it in it’s place.
3. Continue doing this until you finish reading all the items in the book. You will add 3 new items to the old ones at a time. Each time you finish adding new items, your child will sequence both the new and the old ones.
4. When you finish, mix up all of the pictures, and see if your child can put them back in order again.
5. Now turn the pictures over so they are not visible. See if your child can name the items, in order. If they have trouble doing this, then let them peek at the picture for a second or two, and then name it.
TIP: Children who are more advanced can skip the pictures, and just write the first few lettters of each item down as a hint.
You can also make this game harder by having your child sequence all of the items both forwards and backwards.
Have you been wading through endless workbooks and online sites trying to teach your child to read, write, or master math, only to find that none of that stuff works for your child?
There’s more to reading, writing, and math than meets the eye.
Actually, the reason your child isn’t succeeding in school can be summed up in two words: academic subskills.
No, that’s not some sort of code phrase that only the “in” group are privy to. Academic subskills are the skills your child needs in order to accomplish a broader academic task, like reading, writing, or math.
Reading, for example, has subskills like word decoding and comprehension. Writing is even more complex, since you have subskills like letter formation, spelling, and organizing ideas. Math is the hardest of all, since each year new skills are added that are based on the ones from the year before.
If your child is your average neurotypical kid, then it’s generally enough to focus on teaching them the academic subskills they need in order to read, write, and do math.
Typical remediation programs for LD don’t work.
Kids with LD, however, are unlikely to pick up many of these academic subskills, even with superior teaching. Most remediation for kids with LD focuses on teaching academic subskills in all kinds of creative ways. Multi-sensory teaching and repetition are good examples of this.
But those methods typically take a really long time to see any sort of progress. And for each day that your child spends learning the old material, the rest of the class is busy learning new stuff, figuratively leaving your child in the dust.
Your child needs to strengthen the brain processes that control how well she learns.
There are 3 layers that affect how your child does in school.
The last layer, neurodevelopmental functions, is the most important.
It simply means the brain processes that your child needs in order to achieve success at school and at home. When you are trying to create a program to help your child learn to read more fluently, understand what he reads, learn his multiplication tables, or spell properly, you need to ask yourself: could it be that my child isn’t succeeding because the brain processes that control that particular skill are out of whack?
If your child can’t read fluently, of course you’ll need to work on building his sight word vocabulary, helping him be more aware of word patterns, or teaching him to use context to check meaning. But those things come after the underlying brain processes are strengthened.
Why strengthening the brain first makes a lot of sense.
Just imagine that you suffered a bad leg break, and got stuck with a cast for a couple of months. The first thing you need to learn how to do when you get out of that cast is to learn to walk, no question about it.
But if at every therapy session your OT sat down with you and spent 90% of the time discussing the best athletic shoes and adjusting the padding on your crutches, you’d go looking for another OT faster than you can say “The Running Man.”
It’s obvious that the first goal of therapy is to strengthen those leg muscles so that you can walk again without crutches before you turn ninety. Well, the brain isn’t so much different. It can be strengthened, and you’ll find that doing so will make the crucial difference between whether your child succeeds or fails
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.
Hi! I’m a parent of 8 children, 3 of whom have learning disabilities. I have over 20 years experience working with kids and adults of all ages. My specialty is disabilities on the autistic spectrum, and language delays.