Dyslexia in children, affects a lot more than reading — it can also impact a child socially. “A dyslexic person who has word-finding difficulties can have trouble with their expressive language,” says Scott Bezsylko, the executive director of Winston Preparatory School, which specialises in teaching kids with learning disorders. “That has a social impact, in addition to your difficulties with reading and writing, that make you feel not so good about yourself.”
Kids with dyslexia — particularly those who have yet to be diagnosed — often suffer from low self-esteem and high anxiety because they worry that there is something wrong with them, and are often accused of not trying hard enough to learn to read. A child's anxiety can grow when they do not feel accepted or understood by their parents, peers or teacher.
“A lot of our work with dyslexic kids is to help them rediscover that they are smart and capable,” notes Beszylko, “because they’ve stopped believing in themselves.”
Dyslexia can result in frustration, embarrassment, avoidance and low self-esteem as a result of difficulties performing tasks that seem to come naturally to others. Demystifying the learning disorder with your child can help him develop the tools — and resilience — necessary to manage it, both in school and in social circumstances. Some things you can do to help include:
Discuss the specific challenges that result from dyslexia: “You know how you have a hard time reading signs or copying notes from the board? That’s dyslexia.”
Acknowledge his effort and celebrate hard work, even if there are still mistakes: “I know how difficult that reading homework was. I am so proud of how hard you tried.”
Help him recognise his strengths: “You showed such great sportsmanship and teamwork in the soccer game the other night, and that was a great goal you scored!”
Combat negative self-talk: If your child starts saying things like, “I’m just stupid,” don’t ignore it. Instead, check out these ideas for helping kids who are too hard on themselves.
With the right nurturing and tutoring, these children can recover, becoming confident and resilient. We can nurture our children to become emotionally intelligent.