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Struggling Students and Bullying

March 14, 2014

If your child struggles with a learning disability, life is hard enough. Tack on a playground or online bully and going to school can leave your child feeling weak, afraid and frustrated.

With learning struggles and bullying, it’s sometimes the age-old chicken and the egg question of which came first. But, it’s a moot point. The only answer a parent needs is how to help your child feel safe, supported and hopeful about his or her potential.

Kevin Pasqua, owner and executive director of LearningRx in Brookfield, says parents should take a three-pronged approach to help their child – address the bullying, fix the learning struggles and build your child’s confidence.

To schedule an appointment with LearningRx to discuss your child’s learning struggles, call 262-395-2250 or visit www.learningrx.com/milwaukee-brookfield.

1. Initiate a conversation with your child. Don’t wait for them to come to you. Try to listen more than you talk and work together to find a solution that helps your child feel empowered.

2. Monitor your child’s activities – especially online. There’s a fine line between snooping and monitoring, and parents need to decide for themselves where that is. At the very least, look to see what your child’s classmates are saying or posting.

3. Enroll your child in cognitive skills training. Also known as “brain training,” intensive, one-on-one programs can significantly increase confidence, raise IQ and virtually eliminate common learning disabilities like ADHD, dyslexia and dyscalculia (trouble with math). Unlike tutoring, which rehashes subject material, cognitive skills training actually changes the brain to make a stronger, faster and more efficient learner in ANY subject or situation.

4. Teach your children to be more assertive. A bully’s goal is generally to provoke a reaction from their victim. Teaching a child to remain composed, firm and assertive can be enough to deflate a bully’s interest.

To teach assertiveness, role play with your child. Have them practice saying “No” firmly and loudly while looking you in the eye. Teach them how to respond nonchalantly to insults and teasing with a shrug and “That’s your opinion” or “Maybe.” Talk about the importance of walking away and reporting the incident, rather than allowing the bully to see emotions like anger, fear or sadness.

Self-defense classes or martial arts are great at building confidence. In addition to getting physically stronger, children of any age often find that martial arts strengthens cognitive skills like attention, processing speed and problem-solving abilities, which often transfer to academics as well.

5. Report the bullying to the school. This can be tricky if your child is worried that “tattling” will make the bullying worse. However, schools are getting better about implementing zero-tolerance policies. Chances are, the bullying isn’t going to stop on its own.

For additional guidance, visit www.stopbullying.gov.

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