How to respond to a discouraged kid
Put Downs & Comebacks
When children struggle in school, they can easily get discouraged. They might say or think "I'll never learn how to read" or "I'm just dumb." To turn these self-defeating thoughts and feelings around, kids need the help of caring adults. Discover what a child's "put downs" may mean and what "comebacks" you can say or do to encourage a child to keep trying.
For more comprehensive information, click below to learn about six typical "put downs" a child who is struggling may say or think about himself:
Within each of these areas you'll find out what a child may be trying to tell you and how you can respond.
Self-esteem and children who struggle with reading
Imagine getting up each day to go to a job in which you felt incompetent and unsuccessful. A job in which you struggled every day to meet basic goals, in which you felt incapable amongst your coworkers, and your boss gave you constant feedback that your performance was sub-par.
Most adults would flee such a negative work environment, but children have no alternative but to continue being employed in the work of learning how to read.
Learning how to read is truly important work. And while you share with your child or student the value of and an appreciation for reading, it is also important to be explicit in conveying an appreciation for the intensity of his or everyday struggle to become a reader and for his or her worth as a person.
Many children with learning differences do constant battle with frustration, anger, and defeatism. Struggling to learn how to read can be emotionally as well as mentally exhausting. It's a struggle that can affect almost every aspect of a child's school experience, from academics to relationships with peers, to feelings of self-worth.
"Put Downs & Comebacks" offers many suggestions on how you can address a child's negative feelings about self or school. By doing so, you'll help a child more readily reach his or her fullest potential. Most importantly, you'll let your child know what you've always felt that you believe in your child and that you are his or her biggest fan.
Please note: Although we use "he" and "him" throughout (to make it easier to read), the information provided here is applicable to both boys and girls.
"Put Downs & Comebacks" was written by Mia French and produced by Threespot Media for Reading Rockets. Many thanks to Dr. Louise Spear-Swerling for her review.
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