But the last thing a parent should say to a kid with a learning problem, say experts, is, “Try harder.”

When you say that, says psychologist Robert Brooks, you’re making a judgment. You’re assuming that a child isn’t trying.

And even if a child isn’t trying, explains Brooks, accusing her of it won’t help. If she’s not motivated to try, it may be because she feels she can’t succeed anyway.

What a child needs, says Brooks, is a better sense of control over her life. Brooks suggests:

• Let children help make the rules they are to live by, as well as set the consequences for not following the rules.

• Help your child find her “Island of Competence”—a skill, ability or interest that can become a source of pride and accomplishment for her.

• Allow the child to contribute her skills to everyday projects. Give her responsibilities.

• Recognize her for what she does right (with compliments, thank you notes).

• Let your child know it’s okay to make mistakes, then let her make them. That’s the way children learn.

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