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Talking With Your Child About Learning Differences

3 Tips For Talking With Your Complex Learner

When your child receives their first diagnosis, it can come with relief that you finally have an answer but it can also open up a lot of questions. What does this mean for my child? How can I best support them? And sometimes the hardest – how and when do I tell my child?

Figuring out how to talk with your Complex Learner about their learning differences is often one of the most challenging struggles parents face. You want to empower your child but you don’t want to overwhelm them. How do you know when it’s time to talk about it? How can you help them understand without making them feel alienated? 

While honesty is still the best policy, we’ve put together 3 tips for talking to your child about their learning differences. 

1. Know When It’s Time

One of the first things you may wonder is at what age should you talk to your child? While there’s no magic number, your child may be the one giving you hints that they’re ready to talk.

If your child is asking questions about their struggles or even wondering why they do some things differently, this could be a sign that they’re ready to talk. 

If you’re struggling to feel ready to have this conversation, there are multiple ways to help you prepare like doing your own research, purchasing some kid-friendly books or reaching out to your child’s school, teacher, or medical provider  to ask for some advice. The biggest takeaway here is that you need to be fully comfortable before you initiate any conversation. This will help you discuss everything openly and honestly and when you have an open discussion, you’re building trust with your child and showing them that no matter what, they can come to you with any questions

2. Keep It A Discussion

While we advise you to be prepared to talk, we don’t mean we want you building a Powerpoint presentation and going into lecture mode! Instead, focus on keeping it as a discussion, not just a one-time talk.

This can also help you feel more comfortable as you’ll be able to remind yourself that you’re going to continue to talk, share, and answer questions over time. It’s not like every single question has to be answered and addressed in the very first conversation. As you and your child continue to have more talks, it will get easier over time as you establish an expectation of open communication where you’re not shying away from answering any questions or taking any of their concerns seriously. Your conversations will also evolve over time based on your child’s capacity. If they are young, you can still talk with them while keeping it age appropriate and not providing clinical definitions or anything that wouldn’t be understood by them. 

3. Empower

At the end of the day, these conversations are intended to help empower your child. You’re talking with them about their various diagnoses to help make them more comfortable and self-aware. When they understand that this is a part of them and it’s not “wrong” or “bad,” it leads to greater self-esteem. Don’t be afraid to point out how these learning differences also contribute to making them the wonderful, creative, kind person they are. 

Just as you want to build them up, you also want to be honest and talk about areas where they struggle. When they understand WHY some things might be harder for them – they learn to self-advocate and explore strategies that  work for them to help them achieve success. 

It’s normal to have questions and even hesitations when it comes to talking with your child about their learning needs. But, just as with everything you do, your love and support of your child will shine through. 

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