You may be familiar with the
possible outcomes of an evaluation. But how might your child feel when you share evaluation results with her? Here are some common emotional reactions kids have and helpful things you can say in response.
1. Emotional Response: Confusion
In addition to not understanding the results, your child may be confused and worried about something else. How will this change her life? Will she have to leave her regular class? Will everyone know?
ease her concerns by explaining possible next steps. “You’ll probably start seeing a tutor after school. And instead of going to art class, you might go to a reading specialist. So you won’t be leaving in the middle of class.”
2. Emotional Response: Anger or Frustration
Your child may think it’s unfair that she has challenges when other kids don’t. She may react by saying: “Why do I have to be the one who has this? I’ll never be as successful as everyone else.”
Feeling like a victim is a normal response. You can help by acknowledging her feelings: “I understand why you’re
angry. But everyone has struggles sometimes. And we have a plan to make sure you get the help you deserve.” You can also explain the possible treatments or
that may be in her future.
3. Emotional Response: Depression or Apathy
how she feels about herself, your child may take the results as “proof” that she isn’t smart. Or she may be shocked and feel that she’s not the person she thought she was. Either way, the news can bring on a sense of helplessness. But taking action can often help.
Kids typically don’t want to be “different” from their peers. So your child might react by saying, “They don’t even know me! I’m just having a little trouble.” It may feel uncomfortable or even threatening to have her challenges pointed out.
You can help by saying, “This is really hard to hear. I understand that. But these results don’t change who you are: All they do are give us some information about how we can help you. And we’ll always include you in the discussions before we make decisions.”
5. Emotional Response: Guilt
When kids learn they may need outside help, it can trigger feelings of guilt. Your child may be concerned about money (“But aren’t tutors really expensive?”) or how her needs might affect her siblings (“Will you have to miss Ted’s game to take me?”).
You can reassure her by saying, “We’re all in this together. There may be times when money is tighter, but we wouldn’t trade you—or change you—for the world. If your brother needed help, we’d do the same for him.”
6. Emotional Response: Relief
For some kids, finding out they have learning or thinking differences can be a relief. Your child may say, “Finally! I knew something was different about me!” Evaluation results can confirm that her perceptions were right all along.
You can support her insights by saying, “It’s a relief for us, too, because now we have information to help you.” Emphasize that her diagnosis, if she has one, isn’t a “one size fits all” label, and that you’ll work with her support team in and out of school to get the services she needs.