I have learning and thinking differences and so does my 10-year-old. Would it be helpful if I told him about my own struggles?
Yes, telling your child about your own issues can help him in several ways. For starters, your child may be wondering if he is the only person who’s ever struggled this much. He may also be wondering if he’ll ever get better at dealing with his issues.
Sharing details about your journey through difficult times can give him hope. Knowing that you’ve struggled and found ways to succeed will help your child believe he can make progress.
As with all life lessons, the amount of detail you share depends on your child’s age and maturity level. But if he’s struggling and beginning to lose hope, it can be very helpful to talk about how we all struggle with some things. You can give him specific examples of your own struggles.
However, it’s crucial to frame these examples in the positive. Point out how you managed to find solutions or how you learned to speak up yourself so you could receive the help you needed.
Telling your child that you wished you’d started doing this kind of self-advocacy when you were younger can encourage him to begin to speak up too. Talk up the importance of seeking out people at school and in the community who can help him.
Keep in mind that it can be a little tricky talking about the need to ask others for help. Remember that your goal is to empower your child. Encourage him to acknowledge that his struggles are difficult.
But make clear that he’s in a position to take charge and start gathering resources that can help him build skills. Talk with your child and use your own experiences to show him that his struggles are not a reason to “give up.” They’re a chance to build a support system to ensure his success.
About the author
About the author
Rayma Griffin, MA, MEd has spent her 40-year career advocating for the rights of children with learning and thinking differences, both in the classroom and as an educator.