Monday, March 22, 2010

Confidence Building in Dyslexic Children

The following exercise has a beneficial effect on children with low self esteem, and should be carried out by a parent, or a teacher, together with the child, on a one-to-one basis (never in a group).

Explain to the child what you are doing and that it is not a 'test', you are simply going to show them how clever they really are.

Take a sheet of paper and make two columns: in one column put ‘Things I am good at’ and in the other ‘Things that I am not so good at’

  • Things that I am good at
  • Things that I am not so good at

Take about five or ten minutes to discuss with the child all the things that the child is successful with and write them down on the paper.

These will include such skills as swimming, sports, caring for pets, making a collection, dancing, drama, singing, art, painting, drawing, and so on.

In the ‘Not so good’ column let the child tell you the things like spelling and writing that he really finds hard. The list will look something like this, depending of course on each child’s interests:

  • Things that I am good at
    • swimming
    • diving
    • looking after my pet
    • drawing
    • painting
    • collecting stamps
    • getting on well with other children
    • clearing the table
    • making people laugh
    • being friendly to grandparents
    • knowing about space, the planets and dinosaurs
    • etc.

  • Things that I am not so good at
    • spelling
    • reading
    • writing
    • arithmetic or maths

The evidence is staring the child in the face: there are far more things that he is good at than things he has difficulties with. He can’t possibly be stupid. He is clearly a successful person.

Clearly, there will be some resistance. He may say that the things he is weak at are the things that matter in life. If you can’t spell, how can you pass exams and get a job?

At this point you have to discuss and expand the argument with your child. Ask them; ‘What do you value in people – because they are good at spelling? Unlikely.

We value people for all sorts of qualities, especially their ability to be friendly, get on with you, consider your needs, think of other people before themselves and so on.

It’s up to you to keep the discussion going until the child can really begin to see himself in a new light. When they see themselves as a successful person who just happens to have been born with a small difference that sounds like a handicap.

Dyslexia is predominantly a difference in perception, similar to being colour-blind. It’s not something they have control over. It's definitely not their fault and it’s not because they don’t try hard enough, despite what many teachers may have told them.

Seeing themself in a new light can be a major turning point for the child, whatever their age and this new-born self-confidence can lay the foundation and an open-ness or willingness to adopt a new view on learning.

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