Should I tell my child about my own learning differences?

Q. I have learning and thinking differences and so does my 10-year-old. Would it be helpful if I told my child about my own struggles?

A. Yes, telling your child about your own issues can help them in several ways. For starters, your child may be wondering if they are the only person who’s ever struggled this much. They may also be wondering if they’ll ever get better at dealing with their challenges.

Sharing details about your journey through difficult times can give your child hope. Knowing that you’ve struggled and found ways to succeed will help your child believe they 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 they are struggling and beginning to lose hope, it can be very helpful to talk about how we all struggle with some things. You can give them 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 them to begin to speak up too. Talk up the importance of seeking out people at school and in the community who can help.

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 them to acknowledge that the struggles are difficult.

But make clear that they are in a position to take charge. Start gathering resources that can help your child build skills. Talk with your child and use your own experiences to show them that their challenges are not a reason to “give up.” Rather, they’re a chance to build a support system to ensure their success.

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