Kids with learning and attention issues may have many struggles, whether academic, social, or both. But the challenges they face can help them develop key inner strengths. These qualities may sometimes get overlooked, but they’re important for meeting the demands of real life.
Below are four strengths your child may be developing. Encourage her when she displays these qualities. Talk to her about why they’re so valuable. This can help boost her self-esteem and let her know that she’s making progress.
What to look for: When things don’t come easily, your child keeps at it and doesn’t give up.
Point out your child’s strength: “Math was tough. You studied a lot and you got extra help from the teacher. You didn’t get an A. But you identified a goal and you stuck to it.”
Explain why it matters: “Working twice as hard as everyone else is frustrating. But the skills of hard work carry over into everything you do. You know how to keep at a difficult task and what it takes to succeed.”
“Encourage your child when she displays these qualities. Talk to her about why they’re so valuable.”
What to look for: Being a different kind of learner has helped your child be more understanding about other people’s differences.
Point out your child’s strength: “Remember when that new kid started at your school in the middle of the year? Your teacher told me you were the first one to make room for him at the table. You know how it feels when people aren’t friendly.”
Explain why it matters: “Being able to imagine what another person is feeling is a valuable skill. People who can do it are good at making friends and helping people. You also need empathy to be successful at working with others.”
What to look for: Your child goes beyond her comfort zone to meet daily challenges or try new things.
Point out your child’s strength: “When you went out for the swim team, you didn’t know the coach or the other kids. You weren’t sure if you were fast enough. But you jumped in and did your best even though you were nervous.”
Explain why it matters: “It’s scary to risk failing. But most people fail a few times before succeeding at anything. Being brave enough to try anyway is how you get ahead in life.”
What to look for: Your child is able to explain what she needs to teachers and peers.
Point out your child’s strength: “I’m impressed by the way you asked the teacher for her lecture notes to help you study. You identified someone who could give you support and explained how she could help, plus you got what you needed.”
Explain why it matters: “At some point, everyone will face less-than-ideal circumstances. Being able to speak up for yourself in these situations helps you be a creative problem solver, not a victim.”
Your child may not realize what skills she’s gaining while she focuses on dealing with her learning and attention issues. Helping her understand that she has qualities that are important and valuable can make her feel better about herself even when she’s struggling.