Tips for parents with children who have learning disabilities


The most critical key to a child’s success is the positive involvement of his or her parents. — Positive Parenting

It is not easy to parent a child with learning disabilities as a lot of patience and forbearance may be needed.

Developmental and behavioural paediatrician Dr Cindy Chan offers some tips for parents with such children:

> Be mindful of your language

Hold it in and avoid negative words (e.g. lazy, stupid, etc.) when discussing her performance or attitude.

A learning disability means difficulties in grasping conventional academic approaches.

To cope, she often needs a different approach to teaching and should be given more time to practice and master the skills taught.

> Know your child’s limitations

Focus on his strengths, while finding specific ways to enable him to input and output his learning.

For example, children with dysgraphia have trouble writing.

Seek to provide appropriate support like occupational therapy to improve eye-hand coordination and requesting permission from the school for your child to use a laptop to type notes in class.

> Temper your expectations

As parents, always remember that every child is different.

Some children handle frustration and setbacks better than others, so tailor your expectations and responses according to her learning profile and abilities.

Set the bar just high enough to challenge her, but not too high that it becomes unattainable.

Knowing and understanding her personality makes it easier for you to motivate her to do her best.

> Involve your child in some decision-making

This is a shared journey that requires two-way conversations with your child.

Encourage him to also come up with ideas or strategies he may want to try.

This is an important aspect of learning: making mistakes and learning what works for himself.

> Remember that the process is more important than the outcome

Give honest and specific praise whenever she puts in good effort and perseveres.

Don’t just look at exam results; be supportive of interests outside academics.

Apart from music, arts or sports, think about providing opportunities and experiences that may shape ideas for innovative employment opportunities for your child in the future, such as a passion for environmental sustainability, animal care and digital content creation, to name a few.

> Manage unwanted behaviour

Learn appropriate strategies to manage negative behaviours.

Having good communication with your child will enable you to adjust his learning environment to be more effective and less stressful.

This article is courtesy of the Malaysian Paediatric Association’s Positive Parenting programme in collaboration with expert partners. For further information, please email starhealth@thestar.com.my. The information provided is for educational and communication purposes only and it should not be construed as personal medical advice. Information published in this article is not intended to replace, supplant or augment a consultation with a health professional regarding the reader’s own medical care. The Star does not give any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to the content appearing in this column. The Star disclaims all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.

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