"Why can't my child simply do homework without arguing? He always complains and becomes stressed out. It is a constant battle and I don't know what to do." Does this sound familiar? As children are settling into their fall schedules and adjusting to a new school year, these sentiments may become a regular occurrence for many parents. While it is true that some adolescents seem eager to learn and complete assignments with minimal struggles, for those with learning disabilities, it can be extremely difficult and emotionally distressing. For an adolescent with a learning disability, the experience of sitting down to do a homework assignment or project is similar to a person with a fear of flying as they approach the airport.
As you may or may not know as a parent or educator, the emotional and social world for these children is rife with confusing emotions that are not always easy to navigate. Children and adolescents should not be defined by their disabilities. However, when they are repeatedly exposed to failure experiences, it chisels away their global sense of competence and personal agency. Whether socially or academically, real or perceived, reduced competence can result in emotional confusion, self-doubt, feeling misunderstood, sadness, and anxiety. It is not surprising that research shows adolescents with learning disabilities are at a higher risk than their peers for emotional disturbance1, substance abuse, anxiety, low self-esteem, conduct problems, antisocial behavior, and truancy.
Promoting wellness in children and adolescents requires attention and intervention in both educational and emotional arenas. While willpower and wishing away will not cure any disability, parents can help develop the emotional and social skills needed to meet and overcome these challenges.
I share six things parents, educators, and caregivers do for children with learning disabilities to promote emotional and psychological well-being at Huffington Post Parents.
By the way, Gina Misiroglu of Red Room put me in touch with the Huffington Post people, which is one of the great ways she's bringing traffic to Red Room and getting attention for Red Room's authors.