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Monthly Archives: November 2017

Being a parent often feels like being a mix of a motivational speaker, stand-up comedian, and drill sergeant. Sometimes I speak without thinking first — never a good idea — and other times I’m just stumped as to what is the right or best thing to say.

For a Job Well Done
Instead of offering praise for every job well done (no matter how small) ask your kid, “How does that make you feel?”. This gives her the chance to decide how she feels about an accomplishment or a triumph. The same goes for the reverse. If she forgets to turn in her homework two days in a row, instead of telling her how you feel about that, ask her how she feels. In either instance this approach allows your child to reflect on their feelings rather than having you fill in the blank for them.

Listen To Your Body
As parents, from the time they’re born we spend a lot of time tending to our children’s physical needs. We’ve tuned in to their symptoms as well as the source of their physical complaints so we are tempted to tell them why they feel sick (You just ate an entire bag of candy!) or extra tired (I know — you were up reading until past midnight!). Since they’re the ones living inside their skin, it’s important they get in touch with how their bodies feel, and why. Teach them to go beyond identifying what they’re feeling and to link it to a possible cause. Learning to listen to and heed their body’s signals is a skill they’ll use throughout their lives.

Inhale, Exhale
This one works both ways. Because our kids are sensitive to our moods and take cues from our behavior, if we are rushed and hurried, they feel that way too. “Hurry up and tie your shoes or we’ll be late” and “You’re going to miss the bus if you don’t get up right now!” translates into stressful feelings for both of you. Try to catch yourself in these types of situations, slow down, take a long inhale and exhale, and then, get on your child’s eye level and help him do the same.

Is there a Silver Lining?
Disappointment is hard to handle when you’re a kid— they want what they want when they want it. But since disappointment is a fact of life you’re doing her a disservice if you rescue him from feeling bad or sad when things don’t go as planned. Instead, use disappointment as an opportunity to teach her how to adapt, manage her feelings and look for the silver lining. Say something like, “I know you really wanted a play date with Sarah, but she’s sick and can’t come over. Since we’ll be home together let’s think of something we can do—how about make her a get well card?

Let Me Think About It
“Can I go on a camping trip with Sam’s family? Please say yes Mom; I really want to go!” Sometimes when you don’t know how to best respond to a question, buy yourself some time to think about it by responding, “Let me think about that.” Not only is this a helpful strategy for you, it shows him that some decisions take time to consider and it’s not possible, or necessary, to come up with an answer right off the bat.

“The most effective way to speak to a kid is to use simple words and sentences that allow you to accept his feelings but follow through on your rules,” says Wendy Mogel, Ph.D., and author of The Blessing of a Skinned Knee. Her book has lots of helpful insights and advice on this topic.” Check it out to learn more.

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Even though your child realizes it’s harder for him to concentrate and focus in school than his classmates, or is aware that she has more trouble reading than her older brother, being diagnosed as learning disabled is still hard news to swallow.

As a parent, being told that your child is LD elicits a lot of strong feelings. Remember, it does for your child too. As your family starts to navigate the world of LD, it’s really important to tune in and listen to their fears and worries.

Kids believe that being learning disabled means they’re deficient or defective in some way, or that they’re dumb. They’re anxious that being learning challenged means they’ll never catch up in class, they’ll always have to work ten times harder at school than their friends or that everyone will know they’re LD when they’re pulled out of class for tutoring.

Rest assured that there are many who have traveled down this path before you and there are lots of resources and guidance available. Helping you help your child express their feelings in a constructive way is the priority. Here are several suggestions on how to start that process:

  • First and foremost make certain she knows you accept and love her as she is
  • It’s not his (or your) job to “cure” his learning disability. Assure him that you, his teachers and practitioners will be there to support him and provide tools to understand and tackle his challenges
  • Let her know that it’s okay to progress at her own rate. Everyone learns differently and there is no “right” or “wrong” way
  • Help him keep things in perspective. Explain that everyone faces difficulties and, in the process of dealing with them, learn a lot about themselves. (Let him know about the ways you’ve done that in your life.)
  • Assure her that grades aren’t the only (or best) way to measure learning and if’s okay for her to progress at her own rate
  • He’s going to follow your lead. If you approach learning challenges with a sense of humor, hard work, and are not afraid to seek help, he’s much more likely to do the same

A kids’ success is defined by much more than getting all A’s in school, ace-ing the SAT’s, and attending a top college. Developing a positive sense of himself, learning how to build supportive and healthy relationships, being willing to persist when things are difficult, and being able to ask for help when he needs it are qualities that are just as important for growing up to be a happy human with a fulfilling life.

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