I am writing to see if you can give me an opinion regarding my son. He is 10 years old and is going to a school with a very good program for dyslexic kids. He has his struggles with dyslexia, which is understandable. But he has a glass-half-empty personality; or in other words, he projects failure on himself. For example, he will do a homework assignment completely wrong even though it’s material I know for a fact he mastered months ago.

One of the wonderful things about his school is he has had the opportunity to participate in the school plays and vex robotics, so he is capable of doing lots of things when he is having fun. The school also has a psychologist, who meets with him one-on-one about 3 to 4 times a month.

Do you have any suggestions as to what my wife and I could do to change his attitude and general demeanor at completing tasks that cause him "work"?

Dr. Pierson's Response: 

In regard to how to change your son's attitude -- that is a tricky one. Quite honestly, he needs to feel success at some of these tougher activities. Probably, like most dyslexic students, he works and works with no reward. And, so, why should he try, when he doesn't succeed? Developing situations that yield success should start to help. You may need to do that with a tutor or clinician.

I highly recommend having him read and engage in activities in areas of interest. I have information about that here [1] and on subsequent tabs. I think this is key. He needs to experience himself as 'good at something.' This will bolster him through tougher times.

Also, giving him some ownership in what is happening with his life is helpful. Many times I give my clients choices between a number of activities that are on my plan, but since they get to choose, they think they are in charge.

Hopefully, the psychologist he is working with has given you some other ideas.

This is a tough one, I understand. I hope some of these ideas will be helpful.