8 Ways to Help Your Child's Behavior

Kids with learning disabilities often have behavior problems. It’s no wonder. They spend their days in fight-or-flight, never seem to do anything right, are fatigued, and in general have a rough time understanding what is expected of them, especially if they have auditory processing problems.

Add COVID-19 and it can be a real problem.

Parents everywhere are complaining and sometimes resorting to doing and saying things they’ve never done before…mostly because their kids were out of the house and they weren’t being expected to work full time and be their child’s teacher.

I talked to a parent yesterday with a special needs child who can’t yet read and the school was having her teach him sign language. “He can’t even master the English language yet,” she moaned. “Why should he be required to learn another language?”

He shouldn’t. And parents, let the school know when you’ve had enough. It’s their job to teach your children; not the other way around. But that’s another blog post entirely.

Today, I compiled a list of the best eight things you can do to help your learning disabled child behave.

1. Clear expectations are important. If you expect your child to sit and do one worksheet, then make that clear. If it’s five worksheets and read a book, make that clear.

2. Have breaks planned out ahead of time. These kids can be masters at wriggling out of work because they are hungry, thirsty, tired, bored, etc.

3. Have the child repeat the directions you gave her back to you in her own words after giving them.

4. Break the day down into smaller chunks of time so your child isn’t sitting for long periods of time.

5. Set a timer and be very clear about what you expect to be done in that amount of time. Visual timers work best with these kids, as they can see how much time they have. There are many free downloadable apps for visual timers.

6. Set up a behavior chart like the one pictured. This doesn’t have to be hard. Put two squares on a piece of paper. When your child finishes one task, you mark off one square. When he finishes the second, you mark it off. After two squares are marked off, he gets a reward. Slowly ease more squares into your child’s chart and soon you’ll see him getting a lot accomplished. This can work for chores or any other behavior you either want or don’t want. And the child loves seeing she accomplished something. Rewards can be as easy as time spent playing a game or an ice cream cone. Many parents tie screen time into behavior charts like this one with fantastic results.

7. Take time outs if the pressure cooker is heating up. For you as much as your child. The world won’t end if an assignment isn’t done, but harsh words can last a lifetime.

8. Keep as much of a routine as you can. The world is scary enough for a learning disabled child without the fear of not knowing what’s coming next.

Most kids want to do well and please their teachers and families if you give them tools to do it.