6 Reasons Your Child May Feel Like a Victim

By Kate Kelly
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At a Glance

  • Kids with learning and thinking differences can feel defeated by their challenges.

  • Kids may not know why they’re singled out or what they can do differently.

  • You can take steps to help your child feel a sense of control.

Most of us have days when nothing seems to go our way. Despite our best efforts, work projects go awry, car keys disappear, and social plans fall through. Sometimes, you can’t help but think, “Why is this happening to me?”

Imagine that being what most days are like.

For many kids with learning and thinking differences, the uphill battle to make friends, fit in and succeed at school takes a toll on their self-esteem. They may feel like victims, powerless to change their behavior and the situations they find themselves in.

Even if your child is building skills and making progress, he may feel victimized by his issues from time to time. Here are six common thoughts and perceptions he may have.

1. I have to work harder than everyone else.

Whether or not that’s true, your child may think everyone else in the class is sailing along while he struggles to keep up. Many kids with learning and thinking differences find that even when they put in a lot of effort, the class is moving too quickly for them.

2. I hate being in the spotlight.

Accommodations are meant to level the playing field and help kids with learning and thinking differences succeed. But they may also make your child feel singled out. Sitting in front of the class or leaving the room to take tests can feel like a giant advertisement saying, “I’m different.”

3. Everyone else has friends.

Having a good social life can go a long way toward making up for academic difficulty. It’s a source of confidence and escape. Because children with learning and thinking differences can have social difficulties, they may feel isolated and rejected by peers.

4. Kids hate me.

It’s one thing to lack friends, and another to be picked on, teased or otherwise bullied. Kids with learning and thinking differences are often the victims of verbal or physical bullying. But they don’t always speak up. They may even think they deserve it. If your child is being bullied, it can just reinforce the negative view he has of himself.

5. I’m always in trouble.

Your child may feel like every adult at school is mad at him. The librarian scolds him for tapping his pencil. His teacher says his paper is too messy and he needs to redo it. And the lunch monitor moves him away from his friends for being too rowdy. Since he’s not doing any of these things on purpose, he doesn’t feel like it’s possible to turn things around.

6. People judge me because I’m different.

There’s no way kids can hide the fact that they get extra time for tests. Or that they go to the resource room when all their friends are in English class. When others ask them questions about these accommodations, your child might feel ridiculed. Or they might worry that others think they’re “dumb.”

Not all kids with learning and thinking differences feel victimized. But if your child does, giving him a sense of control can empower him. You can help him identify his strengths and learn to be a self-advocate. You can also teach him strategies for dealing with bullying. And by celebrating success and giving genuine praise, you can show him how much you value him.

Key Takeaways

  • Kids can sometimes feel defeated by their issues even if they’re making progress.

  • Kids with learning and thinking differences may feel like they’re singled out or treated unfairly.

  • Children who are given a sense of control often feel less like victims.

About the Author

About the Author

Kate Kelly 

has been writing and editing for more than 20 years, with a focus on parenting.

Reviewed by

Reviewed by

Molly Algermissen, PhD 

is an associate professor of medical psychology at Columbia University Medical Center and clinical director of PROMISE.

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