Helping children with learning disabilities Tip 4:
Emphasize healthy lifestyle habits
It may seem like common sense that learning involves the body as well as the brain, but your child’s eating, sleep, and exercise habits may be even more important than you think. If children with learning disabilities are eating right and getting enough sleep and exercise, they will be better able to focus, concentrate, and work hard.
- Exercise – Exercise isn’t just good for the body, it’s good for the mind. Regular physical activity makes a huge difference in mood, energy, and mental clarity. Encourage your learning disabled child to get outside, move, and play. Rather than tiring out your child and taking away from schoolwork, regular exercise will actually help him or her stay alert and attentive throughout the day. Exercise is also a great antidote to stress and frustration.
- Diet – A healthy, nutrient rich diet will aid your child’s growth and development. A diet full of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean protein will help boost mental focus. Be sure your child starts the day with a good breakfast and doesn’t go more than 4 hours between meals or snacks. This will help keep his or her energy levels stable.
- Sleep – Learning disability or not, your child is going to have trouble learning if he or she is not well rested. Kids need more sleep than adults do. On average, preschoolers need from 11-13 hours per night, middle school children need about 10-11 hours, and teens and preteens need from 8½-10 hours. You can help make sure your child is getting the sleep he or she needs by enforcing a set bedtime. The type of light emitted by electronic screens (computers, televisions, iPods and iPads, portable video players, etc.) is activating to the brain. So you can also help by powering off all electronics at least an hour or two before lights out.
Encouraging healthy emotional habits
In addition to healthy physical habits, you can also encourage children to have healthy emotional habits. Like you, they may be frustrated by the challenges presented by their learning disability. Try to give them outlets for expressing their anger, frustration, or feelings of discouragement. Listen when they want to talk and create an environment open to expression. Doing so will help them connect with their feelings and, eventually, learn how to calm themselves and regulate their emotions.