5 common worries when your child learns and thinks differently

It’s not uncommon to worry a lot when your child has ADHD or learning disabilities. Learn about common worries and get tips for managing them.

All parents worry about their kids. But when your child learns or thinks differently, your worries may be a little more involved. You may feel anxious about your child’s future. Or feel like you’re not doing enough. Learning to manage those worries is important.

Here are some common concerns parents and caregivers have — and productive tips to help you manage them.

1. Your child’s future

Even when kids are very young, concerns about life after high school and beyond are common. For example, when kids have trouble with , parents often worry that they won’t be able to develop independent living skills.

Ways to manage it: If your 10-year-old child finds it hard to keep track of schoolwork, worrying about how they’ll do in high school (or college) isn’t going to help. Focus on what you can do now to address your child’s needs. This will build a foundation for your child to thrive in the future.

2. Your child’s self-esteem

When kids learn or think differently, new tasks and skills might not come easily. Learning challenges can impact a child’s self-esteem. You may worry that your child will have more negative feelings and thoughts than other kids.

Ways to manage it: Make an effort to help your child build positive self-esteem. Keep your praise specific. (“I think it’s great that you asked for help from your teacher.”)

Be sure to cheer on your child’s efforts in a way that supports self-esteem and self-evaluation. (“I saw how hard you studied for that test. Way to go!”)

3. Your child being labeled

Some parents worry that naming their child’s challenges can be harmful. Maybe you’re worried that if people know, they’ll judge you or your child. Or that your family will think that you are the one labeling your child and making assumptions.

Ways to manage it: Try to think of your child’s diagnosis as a way to get the support and services you all need. And know that there are ways to talk to your child about their differences that can help them build self-esteem.

4. How your child does in school

You may worry that your child will find school too hard to manage. Or that if they have trouble with schoolwork and social skills, they could be bullied. You may be concerned about whether they’ll make friends.

Ways to manage it: Communication can help. Build a good relationship with your child’s teachers. Together, you can create a clear plan that factors in your child’s learning and social needs.

You can also check in regularly with your child. Knowing how they feel about school and friends gives you a chance to talk about any issues together before they get out of hand.

5. Your ability to help 

You’re not always sure what will help your child with specific learning or thinking challenges. You might worry that if you can’t “fix” the issue, you won’t be able to find any way to help and support your child.

Ways to manage it: Remember that you don’t have to do it all alone. You don’t have to have all the answers. You don’t have to fix it.

Raising a child who learns or thinks differently can feel isolating. But there are people you can turn to for help. Your child’s team at school, your pediatrician, extended family, and other parents who have kids with similar challenges can all help you out.

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If you have many of the worries listed here — or other worries — take heart. Having concerns like these can be a good motivator for finding ways to help your child and yourself.