We all know that the teen years are difficult. From growing pains to deciding their personal identity, it is easy to say that teens have a lot on their plate. However, teens with learning disorders have that times ten. Most parents notice the struggle happening, but don’t know how to help their child.
One of the things that can prove to be most difficult with teenagers is communicating. Always remember to remain straightforward but understanding with your teen. If they are not likely to approach you, be persistent with talking to them about their learning struggles. If it is something that is talked about openly, it will enable the teen to be more self-aware and more motivated to work on the problem.
Remind your son or daughter often that you are there to help and that you wish to communicate with them in order to know what they need or if there is anything that you can do. That way, they will know that you are on their side and not simply trying to nag or remind them of their short-comings.
Pay attention to how they are reacting to you when you talk to them or when they come home from school. If they are angry, sad, or completely numb, these are clues for you as to how you can help. Try to get them to talk through their feelings and articulate the reasoning for their frustration. Remember to validate their feelings and also try to help solve the problem with them. Never make them feel like it stupid to feel a certain way. For example, a teen says, “Someone made fun of me today at school. I’m just so stupid.” Most parents would jump to defending that they are not stupid, however, you do not want to infer that the teen is stupid for thinking that he or she is stupid. One way of replying to this could be, “I understand that it made you feel that way, being made fun of can really hurt. But Johnny, I want you to know that you are good at so many things. You are definitely not stupid.” This validates and supports them while still letting them know that they are not stupid.
It can also help to know the details of your son or daughter’s case. If the teacher says that he or she is struggling with reading, what aspect of it is she struggling with specifically. By finding out these types of details, you will be able to get to the root of the problem more easily. Once you know that comprehension is the problem, you can focus in on helping him or her on that specifically instead of just telling them to read a lot of books. Learn as much as you can about the specific disorder or case of your child. The internet has tons of sources for more information, and the more you know, the more you can help.
Positive reinforcement is always best when dealing with situations like this, and it also helps with the teen’s self-esteem. Remind them on a daily basis of their worth, things they are good at, or things they are improving on. If they feel like their efforts are worth it, it will be easier for them to continue.
Every case and every teen is different, so seek help from professionals with any detailed questions that you may have. Above all, just be there for your son or daughter. Knowing that you love and support them, no matter what happens, will help them to grow more than any tutor could.
Tyler Jacobson is the Online Outreach Coordinator for HelpYourTeenNow.com. When he’s not writing about ways parents can help their struggling teens he enjoys snowboarding and hanging out with his dog Frank.