Exam time is here again and your child is not performing as well as you expected. Remember, when you child has learning problems, it also affects you as a parent, who with your child also experience the frustration and tension. Children can easily feel like a failure and it can harm their self-image. These children often feel helpless, as the demands made on them are overwhelming. As a result, your child could also develop behavioural problems.
Dr. ST Potgieter, a psychologist in Bellville, shares a few thoughts on how you as a parent can help your child:
Acknowledge that your child has a learning problem and dedicate yourself to helping him/her.
Take down notes on your child’s behaviour and problems. Does he/she struggle with reading, maths, concentration or does he/she perhaps make use of the wrong study methods?
Discuss your child’s problem with the teachers. Communicate and be involved with the school, as the relationship between parent and teacher is important when your child has a learning problem.
Take your child to a psychologist; it is important to get an indication of your child’s intellectual abilities, as it could determine the direction of further assistance.
Have other applicable evaluations done, for example an ear- and eye-test, medical examination, remediating and didactic evaluations. An evaluation by an occupational therapist and speech therapist might also be necessary.
A second opinion, especially an eye-test, is important, as other problems might be related.
Implement remediating assistance. It can include extra classes, study methods guidance, specialised teaching, alternative schools and training, spectacles, medication, occupation therapy etc.
Talk to your child about his/her fears and worries. Help him/her with time management and organising his/her school work. Reassure your child that you will always be there to help.
Encourage your child with positive support. Determine your child’s strong points and focus on them.
Use technology to help your child. Today a lot more technology and programmes are available than a few years ago. Think for example how the computer could help your child.
Discourage your child to not use words like “I’m stupid”. Help your child to understand his/her value does not lie in the marks he/she achieves.
Help your child to discover interests and activities which he/she is good at and can excel in.
Your child must become aware that no-one needs to be perfect. He/she may make mistakes and still know that you as parents and the teachers are there to support and help him/her. Show your child it is acceptable to make mistakes.
Give your child enough time to relax between school work. The academic tasks are exhausting and stressful enough, which is why regular rest and other activities are necessary.
The most important point is to treat your child as an individual and to not compare him/her with other children.