Reward effort, not just the product
During the past 25 years, I have interviewed many dyslexic adults. Some have learned to deal successfully with their learning problems, while others have not. My experiences suggest that in addition to factors such as intelligence and socio- economic status, other things affect the dyslexic’s chances for success.
First, early in the child’s life, someone has been extremely supportive and encouraging. Second, the young dyslexic found an area in which he or she could succeed. Finally, successful dyslexics appear to have developed a commitment to helping others.
Both teachers and parents need to offer consistent, ongoing encouragement and support. However, one rarely hears about this very important way to help youngsters.
I believe encouragement involves at least four elements. First, listening to children’s feelings. Anxiety, anger and depression are daily companions for dyslexics. However, their language problems often make it difficult for them to express their feelings. Therefore, adults must help them learn to talk about their feelings.
Teachers and parents must reward effort, not just “the product”. For the dyslexic, grades should be less important than progress. When confronting unacceptable behavior, adults must not inadvertently discourage the dyslexic child. Words such as “lazy” or “incorrigible” can seriously damage the child’s self-image.
-Dr. Michael Ryan
© Copyright 2004, The International Dyslexia Association (IDA). IDA encourages the reproduction and distribution of this fact sheet. If portions of the text are cited, appropriate reference must be made. Fact sheets may not be reprinted for the purpose of resale.
For more information:
- Read LD Online's Tips for Developing Healthy Self-Esteem in Your Child
- Read Tell your Dyslexic Student, “There are no mistakes, only practice.” from Dyslexia Victoria Online (which includes a link to one of Dr. Ryan's letters)