Parenting a child with learning and thinking differences takes time, energy, and resources. Talking about your child’s issues can lead friends and family to offer help. But they may not know quite what you need. Here are some specific suggestions about what they can do.
Help at home
- Have them be a sitter for your child with learning and thinking differences so you can spend time with your other kids or your partner — or just by yourself.
- Ask them to babysit for your other kids so you can spend one-on-one time with your child who has learning and thinking differences.
- Have them take your other kids to activities when you have to be at appointments for your child with learning and thinking differences.
- Let them cook your family a meal to eat now or freeze for later.
- Assign them yard chores, like raking leaves or mowing the lawn, or ask them to run errands like picking up groceries or returning library books.
Help with school activities
- Let them help with homework or a specific school project.
- Ask them to go on a field trip with your child’s class.
- Let them bring your child to school in the morning or pick your child up after school.
- Direct them to praise your child for making academic progress (not just for winning a prize).
- Have them attend IEP or other school meetings with you.
Help with your social life
- Set up a time to meet you for tea or a meal so you can take a breather and talk.
- Ask them to be an exercise buddy for you.
- Have them call or email you weekly just to check in, and also suggest fun activities for your families to do together.
- See if they can introduce you to other parents who have a child with learning and thinking differences.
- Allow them to provide support during social or family get-togethers.
- Ask them to explain your child’s issues to other families or to your own family members using language you’re comfortable with.
- Request that they tell you honestly how playdates, sleepovers, or other visits go for your child and to keep an eye out for bullies and alert you of any potentially troubling activity.
- Invite them to accompany you on visits to your child’s doctors and other specialists.
- Help you with research online or at the library.
- Urge them to "catch” your child doing something positive and offer praise.
Get tips on how to start a conversation about your child’s learning and thinking differences. Explore more ways to build a successful support network.
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About the author
About the author
Lexi Walters Wright is the former community manager at Understood. As a writer and editor, she helps parents make more informed choices for their children and for themselves.
Laura Tagliareni, PhD is a pediatric neuropsychologist in New York City and a clinical instructor at NYU Langone Medical Center.