The Emotional Impact of Dyslexia on Children and How to Help Your Own Child

Dyslexia, a neurological learning disorder, affects an estimated 10% of the global population, including children in Singapore. Characterised by difficulties in reading, writing, and spelling, dyslexia can present unique challenges in a child’s educational journey. The condition can make it arduous for individuals to decode words accurately, comprehend written material, and organise their thoughts coherently on paper, affecting their overall academic performance. It’s important to note that dyslexia is not a reflection of intelligence but rather a specific learning difference that requires tailored support. Despite knowing this, it’s still possible for the condition and the challenges it presents to have a significant emotional toll on children.

As a parent, you are in a unique position to help your child process the emotional impact of dyslexia in a healthy and positive manner. But before that, it’s important to understand the profound ways in which this condition can affect a child’s emotional well-being. 

The Emotional Impact of Dyslexia

Unfortunately, in part due to the lack of awareness, dyslexia isoften associated with negative traits like laziness, low motivation, or poor learning. Receiving a positive dyslexia assessment Singapore, in many ways, can bring a sense of relief to many families. Still, children with dyslexia often grapple with plenty of challenges in their academic pursuits. For instance, struggling with reading and writing can lead to feelings of frustration and inadequacy. This can lead children with dyslexia to believe that they are not as capable as their peers, causing their confidence and self-esteem to plummet. This, in turn, can initiate a cycle of self-doubt and discourage many children with dyslexia from widening their horizons.

At the same time, the emotional impact of dyslexia can bring about behavioural issues. Some children can act out in frustration, use disruptive behaviour to cope with their academic challenges, or altogether avoid participating in activities that they find difficult to do. It’s also possible for dyslexia to influence a child’s social interactions and sense of belonging. In group settings, they might feel anxious about reading aloud or participating in activities that expose their condition. As a result, they may withdraw from social interactions to avoid potential embarrassment or feeling different from their peers. The emotional toll of dyslexia on a child’s social life can lead to a sense of isolation and hinder their development of essential social skills.

How Can You Provide Your Child with Emotional Support?

It takes a team to address the emotional challenges brought about by dyslexia. You, as a parent, play a crucial role in helping your child discover and develop healthy ways to manage their emotion and deal with the challenges presented by their condition. Here are some of the strategies that you can use to do just that. 

● Open Communication – Encourage open and honest communication with your child about dyslexia. Create a safe and non-judgmental space where they feel comfortable discussing their feelings and challenges. 

● Validate Their Feelings – Acknowledge and validate your child’s emotions. Let them know that it’s okay to feel frustrated, upset, or overwhelmed by their difficulties. Avoid dismissing their feelings or comparing them to others.

● Focus on Strengths – Help your child recognise their strengths and talents outside of academics. Celebrate their achievements in non-academic areas such as sports, arts, hobbies, or interpersonal skills.

● Set Realistic Expectations – Understand your child’s capabilities and set realistic expectations based on their individual needs and progress. Avoid putting undue pressure on them to perform at the same level as their peers.

● Advocate for Support – Work with teachers and school administrators to ensure that your child receives appropriate support and accommodations in the classroom. This may include specialised instruction, assistive technology, or extra time for tests.

● Encourage Effort and Perseverance – Emphasise the value of effort and hard work over immediate results. Encourage your child to persevere through challenges and celebrate their determination to improve.

● Model Positive Attitudes – Demonstrate a positive attitude toward learning and problem-solving. Show your child that mistakes are a natural part of the learning process and that it’s okay to ask for help.

● Engage in Multisensory Learning – Incorporate multisensory learning activities at home, which can help reinforce learning and make it more enjoyable for your child.

● Read Together – Spend time reading together for enjoyment. Choose books that align with your child’s interests and reading level, and take turns reading aloud to create a supportive and enjoyable experience.

● Seek Professional Support – Consider seeking support from educational therapists, psychologists, or counsellors who specialise in working with children with dyslexia. They can provide additional strategies and guidance.

● Join Support Groups – Look for local or online support groups for parents of children with dyslexia. Connecting with other families facing similar challenges can offer valuable insights and emotional support.

● Celebrate Progress – Celebrate your child’s progress, no matter how small. Recognising their achievements, whether it’s mastering a new skill or improving reading fluency, can boost their confidence and motivation.

Your role in supporting your child goes far beyond addressing the academic challenges that come with dyslexia. It’s also imperative to help your child develop the coping skills and strategies that will enable them to navigate the emotional complications that the condition typically brings about. By fostering a nurturing and empathetic environment, you can help your child live with dyslexia with confidence and empower them to fulfill their potential.

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