How to Build Confidence in Teens With Learning Disabilities

TeensHealth reports that about 4 million school-age children and teens have some sort of learning disability 1. Unfortunately, learning disabilities can chip away at a teen’s sense of self-worth 1. For this reason, teens with learning disabilities do better when they receive plenty of support 1. Although there’s no cure for a learning disability, there are ways you can help your teen cope and achieve success.

Explain what a learning disability is 1. Clarify that it doesn’t have anything to do with how intelligent she is. Help your teen understand that a learning disability affects the way the brain receives, processes or stores information. Name some famous people that she’ll recognize who have also learning disabilities 1.

Get your teen help at school, if he needs it. There may be only certain classes that give him trouble. Talk to the school about scheduling your teen time with a tutor or developing an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for him. An IEP will define his academic strengths and weaknesses and will provide an outline of a plan to help him succeed in his goals.

Focus on your teen’s strengths. Avoid having negative expectations of what she can accomplish. In an article for WebMD, Robert Evans, an author and clinical psychologist, points out that protecting your teen from failure and disappointments prevents her from experiencing opportunities for learning. Don’t send the message that you view her learning disability as a roadblock to success or else, she might begin to feel the same way. Tell your teen she’s unique and that her uniqueness is one of the things you love most about her.

Give your teen responsibilities. Communicate the message that you know he can do it. He won’t learn unless you allow him to try. Your teen will likely do better if you help him feel good about himself.

Teach your teen that mistakes help her learn. Otherwise, she will be afraid to try again. Allow her the opportunity to become more competent at the things she does so that she’ll gain confidence in her abilities.

Encourage your teen to come up with solutions to his problems on his own. Offer support but let him make his own decisions. Be there for him as he learns to deal with life’s disappointments and setbacks.

Look at things from your teen’s perspective. She’ll feel more secure if she knows you accept and love her for who she is. The National Center for Learning Disabilities suggests helping your teen to understand her strengths and weaknesses 1. She needs to know she can have control over her life. Knowing that she plays a role in the outcome of the situations affecting her may encourage her to put more effort in what she does.