Dyslexia Stress at Home
Dealing with dyslexia stress at home can pose some unique challenges for families. The additional stress is not something many of us talk about, but we do need to acknowledge and manage. How many of us have had to endure long evenings with a dyslexic child who is overwhelmed and miserable due to homework expectations from school?
A child who is crying, feeling not very smart, overloaded and melting down is not going to be able to make a best effort at completing the work assigned.
Some of this can be attributed to stress from schoolwork: The sense of overwhelm that comes from reading assignments, homework, need for organizational skills to keep it all together and on time. Oftentimes students with dyslexia may even complete their homework, and then fail to turn it in. This leaves parents feeling puzzled and sometimes even angry with their child. These challenges can really affect relationships within the family, and cause overreaction and anxiety at home.
What can make matters worse is when there is confusion and blame about dyslexia that leads to conflict in how to deal with it. Sometimes one parent does not understand how a dyslexic child may respond to homework overwhelm and may accuse the other parent of “babying” the child. Other parents who have dyslexia may feel responsible for child’s school struggles—and translate that feeling into anger or even denial.
It’s important for parents to deal with their feelings about dyslexia. There are so many positive attributes about it, but parents may tend to focus on the challenges instead. Many times, I have listened to parents, usually mothers, report about how their spouse decided to take away privileges—cellphones, video games, music lessons, participation in sports, other special activities—in order to get their dyslexic child to “buckle down and do better.” Rarely does this work, and instead, may end up leading the dyslexic child into more of a sense of despair and failure.
I remember suggesting to one mom that they give their dyslexic child “more carrot and less stick,” after hearing of how they had removed basically everything that made his life worth living, hoping that it would get him to improve his grades. Indeed, he expressed some self-harming comments that were reported to authorities. Although he was found not to be suicidal, it was a real wake-up call for mom and dad.
So how to deal with dyslexia stress at home? Learn about dyslexia, talk about it, and teach your child what dyslexia is all about. Work with the school to reduce the amount of homework and work on organizing time and materials. Most importantly, focus on your child’s strengths and support them in every way possible. Remember how difficult every day at school can be for a student with dyslexia, and give your child as many rewards and positive reinforcement as possible. This proactive positivity should significantly reduce the stress in your home, and in your life!