Finding out that your child has a learning or attention issue is never easy. You may be unsure of the best way to help her. Or you may fear what her issues could mean for her future.
Rest assured that worries like this are very typical. Below are common concerns and ways to cope with them.
Common Concerns for Parents
When you first suspect a problem, or learn about what’s causing it, there are many things you may worry about. And worry can continue or surface even after you’ve been addressing your child’s issues.
Your emotions might include:
- Fear of labeling your child. You may be reluctant to name your child’s issue. You might be worried that saying “Molly has ADHD” could cause even more problems for her than if you didn’t tell anyone about it. You may be reluctant to discuss her issues with her.
- Worry about your child’s self-worth. You may be concerned that your child will have low self-esteem. You may worry that she’ll struggle to fit in with other kids or will have trouble making friends.
- Concern about school. You may fear that your child will find school in general very difficult. Or you might be worried that she’ll have to struggle with any subjects related to her particular learning challenge.
- Doubts about whether you can help. It’s not always clear what will help a child with learning or attention issues. You may feel upset that there’s no “cure”—you don’t know how to fix the problem or make it easier for your child to handle.
- Fear about your child’s future. Will your child be able to succeed in college or a vocational school? Even if that’s far in the future, concerns about your child’s life after high school are common. You might worry about her being able to get a job or develop the social skills to have strong relationships as an adult.
Tips for Coping
You might have some or all of these feelings. These are completely normal reactions! Having concerns like these can be a good motivator for finding ways to help your child. For instance, gathering the facts—learning more about your child’s issues and educational rights—can help you advocate for your child. Here are other coping ideas.
Focus on what you can do now. Many parents concentrate on the distant future: “How will my child get into a good college? Will she be able to find a career that fits her strengths?” If your child is 7 years old, worrying about what will happen when she’s 18 isn’t going to help her much. Concentrate on how you can best address her needs right now.
Develop a positive relationship with your child’s school. Having a strong bond with your child’s teachers can help put your mind at ease. So can knowing there’s a clear plan for meeting her learning needs. These are things you can play an important role in. Setting up regular meetings with teachers and any other school professionals who work with your child is a good start.
Know that you’re not alone. Having a child with learning or attention issues can feel isolating. It may help to seek support or advice from other parents of kids with learning or attention issues. Consider looking for a support group or starting one yourself. Feeling understood can make it much easier to deal with the natural concerns you have.