Parenting Children with LD: From One Parent to Another
Part 2 of a Series Written by Margo Taylor Specifically for Parents
In Part 1, Margo shared with us, as a parent of children with learning disabilities, the importance of setting boundaries with your child, being consistent in Rhythmic Writing, building self-esteem in your child, and checking your attitude toward your child. The following is the conclusion of her article, which provides parents with more counsel in working with their child to maximize and produce lasting results in their quest for learning wholeness.
God’s Word says, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). That verse implies a long process on the part of a parent requiring wholehearted dedication, a willingness to initiate wise courses of action, and discipline for building a solid foundation on which a child’s future may grow.
Growing up is hard enough, but when you add a LD problem to the already complicated business, it doesn’t take much insight to know that he or she is going to have some rough times. So how does a parent with a child who struggles with a learning disability apply such dedication and wise planning for their child’s future?
Turn Trials into Growing Experiences
It is very important that we make those rough times and trials “growing experiences” and not “defeating experiences.” As a parent, it is natural to get discouraged and frustrated right along with our child over their seeming inability to measure up to the world’s (and often our own) standard of success. We ache when we see them stumble. Yet God’s Word says that we are to rejoice when we face various trials, for in these are opportunities to help us grow and mature in our faith and character (See James 1:2-4). God doesn’t remove obstacles from our path or give us instant victory over our trials. He knows that if He did, we would miss out on wonderful lessons and the satisfaction of winning a hard-fought battle.
Our attitude toward our children comes across in a myriad of ways. So just as our children need to apply everything they learn in therapy, we as parents must apply the truths of Scripture in our lives to keep a positive attitude, a thankful heart and a winning spirit over our children’s struggles. This will give them a greater sense of security about their lives. So rejoice over your trials and commit your way to God as you and your child put your hands to the plowshare, knowing that it will produce lasting fruit in their character.
Involve Your Child in the Process
Our children need to have a sense that they are part of the decision-making process concerning what they need to do to overcome their learning disability. Talk openly and honestly about their learning disability, respect their feelings, but remain firm in keeping them on the right course—explaining the results they’ll achieve if they apply themselves or the consequences they will suffer if they don’t. In other words, coach them through the process. More often than not they will see things your way and make the right choices. Will there be times of pouting and resistance? Absolutely! But bring them back to the reasons why you and your child made the decisions you did to overcome their learning disability. In the long run this will make them a more willing participant and will pave the way for a greater sense of control over their lives in years to come.
Be Involved in Your Child’s Therapy & School Life
Lastly, to understand the issues your child is facing with his or her learning disability, be an active observer and participant in their therapy and school life. NILD recommends that parents observe their child’s therapy sessions on a regular basis. One of the benefits of observing therapy is that you learn new skills for yourself while watching the educational therapist in action. You also arm yourself with the right knowledge when your child comes home and claims he or she doesn’t have any therapy homework or that his educational therapist doesn’t require him to do the work exactly. Moreover, get to know your child’s educational therapist and ask them questions when you have them.
If you can, volunteer at your child’s school so you get to know the teachers and help them get to know you. I had many opportunities to pass along one or two sentences about my children that enlarged their teachers’ understanding of them. Furthermore, if the children came home with a story about a teacher that, if true, was disturbing, I made an appointment with that teacher to discuss the issue. This kind of involvement never produced anything but positive outcomes. Then, on a level that is suitable for your child, begin teaching them how to be an advocate for themselves; i.e., how to go to their teacher, present the issue and clarify a misunderstanding or make a request on their own behalf. I did this with my two sons and they were surprised at first when they got positive feedback and eventually approached their teachers respectfully and without hesitation.
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope'” (Jeremiah 29:11). When we help our child face his or her learning disability, we instill important life skills everyone needs to succeed in life. By being positive, proactive and reinforcing we initiate wise planning and guidance for them, impacting the way they feel about their lives and their future.