The 5 Commandments for Parenting Children with LD

By Jane Horton

at a glance

A parent of children with learning disabilities shares her five simple rules for managing over the long haul, including, first and foremost, taking care of your own health and wellbeing


This I know for sure…

Children with learning disabilities have great parents with boundless dreams. We want our kids to be successful in school, happy all the time and recognized for their uniqueness. We imagine them playing on championship teams, singing the solo perfectly, and gaining everyone’s admiration.

Our wishes and desires for our children are those of every parent. But theres a twist. Our kids have obstacles to overcome and mountains to climb.

So how do we parent them through those difficult tasks?

Helping Them Help Themselves

We position ourselves to assist by pushing, pulling, tugging or lifting them over the barriers. We do this day in and day out because we are their parents. We are the keepers of their self-esteem. We know them better than anyone else. But this is a long-term commitment and success does not necessarily equate to the amount of energy we expend.

The theory of relativity does not apply to a child with learning disabilities and a parent with endless energy. We get tired as time goes on. Our lives continue to pick up speed rather than slow down and the learning issues remain a constant rather than fade away. Life gets crazy. We need a break, and so do our kids. We spin at break-neck speed but it’s not working. We are at our wit’s end.

The Five Commandments

Having been there and done that, I want to spare you that defeated feeling. So here are my commandments for parenting children with LD for the long haul.

  1. You need someone to care for you—to balance your energy output with caring input. If you are not healthy and whole, you will not be of much benefit to your child. When your car is out of gas it is useless, and so are you when you are exhausted and spent.
  2. Reflect worth and love. Your child looks into your eyes to seek the answer to “am I good enough.” You are the ruler by which she measures her self-worth. Do not forget this—ever.
  3. The grade your child receives on an assignment, test, or report card in no way reflects the job you are doing as a parent. Do not let a number define your child—or you.
  4. Every school year is an entity unto itself. One year does not set the pace or predict the outcome for the next.
  5. Laugh a lot. Humor relieves stress and lightens the load for everyone. And it is contagious.

As parents we model so much for our children with our behaviors. I can’t think of a better way to raise healthy and happy children than to value our own health and self. And laugh at all the crazy and ridiculous events that infiltrate our daily lives. You’ll feel better for it.

The author is a mother of four children, three of whom have learning disabilities.