Talking with your child

6 Tips for Talking to Your Child About Learning and Attention Issues

By Geri Coleman Tucker

135Found this helpful

Kids with learning and attention issues often pick up on ways they differ from their peers. And struggling with schoolwork can be a blow to self-esteem. Here’s how to talk with your child about learning and attention issues.

135Found this helpful
Mother guiding and encouraging her young son cooking in the kitchen
1 of 6

Challenges for All

Let your child know that we all have strengths and weaknesses, and give specific examples. This can make it easier for him to embrace his learning differences. Talk about how he learns differently, but try to keep the focus on strategies rather than on the challenges themselves. This can help empower your child to overcome or work around weaknesses.

Parent talking to children in a coffee shop
2 of 6

No Labels Necessary

Early on, focus on finding ways to talk comfortably about your child’s learning challenges and behaviors. Diagnoses, clinical terms or more detailed discussion may come later, when more appropriate.

Father taking a break from washing to car to have a conversation with his son
3 of 6

Once Is Not Enough

One conversation is just the beginning. Children’s level of understanding changes over time. Opening a dialogue with your child about learning challenges lays a foundation for trust, problem solving and self-acceptance.

Father sitting outside on a park bench listening to his daughter talk
4 of 6

The Ears Have It

Take the time to listen—really listen. Heed the proverb: “Listen twice as much as you speak.” Focusing on what your child says and does may lead to deeper, richer discussions about obstacles and solutions.

Close-up of a mother praising her daughter
5 of 6

Perspective, Please

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the challenges your child is facing. Don’t forget to build on your child’s strengths and successes. Praise your child’s strengths, but use specific examples whenever possible, and don’t overdo it. Even young children can spot insincerity.

Mother showing young son an article in the newspaper
6 of 6

Star Search

CEOs, celebrities and professional athletes often talk about how they’ve handled their learning differences. Their stories may help your child feel less stigmatized and even boost his self-esteem.

Start the slideshow again

8 Ways to Make Mornings Easier

Has it regularly become “morning madness” at your house? Most families—especially those with children who have learning and attention issues—have trouble moving from home to school and other activities first thing in the morning. These tips can help you streamline your morning routines.

7 Ideas for Using Rewards and Consequences

It’s not easy to keep kids motivated. A system of rewards and consequences at home could be just the incentive your child needs. Here are ideas for putting a system in place.

About the Author

Geri Tucker

Geri Coleman Tucker

Geri Coleman Tucker is a freelance writer and editor and a former deputy managing editor for USA Today.

More by this author

Reviewed by Jenn Osen-Foss, M.A.T. Jan 08, 2014 Jan 08, 2014

Did you find this helpful?

More to Explore

  • Parenting Coach

    Practical ideas for social, emotional and behavioral challenges.

  • Tech Finder

    Find technology to help your child.

    Select platform or device
  • Through Your Child’s Eyes

    Simulations and videos to let you experience your child’s world.

  • 2015 Guide to Holiday Toys

    If your child has learning or attention issues, here’s what to consider about the season’s hottest toys.

  • The Marshmallow Test

    Learn about this experiment conducted in the 1960s, and what it tells us about kids with ADHD.

  • Join a Group!

    A safe place for you to connect with other parents like you.

  • What’s the Difference Between IEPs and 504 Plans?

    Hear from an expert on what’s similar and what’s different.

  • One Week of Training, a Lifetime of Difference

    Two Illinois teachers took it upon themselves to learn more about dyslexia.