Oftentimes parents and educational professionals can mistake the need for therapy over development of skills to grow into adulthood. That is what mentoring does for your teen. Meeting them where they are, listening and working together to become WHO they want to be.
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Todd Kestin, LCSW, creator of Life Skills Mentoring, shares his personal experience with what it is like to be a teen with learning disabilities. Understand the story your child who learns differently is telling inside their head and find out about a little known resource that can help.
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Stay tuned to Life Skills Mentoring videos to learn more about teen mentoring and how it is different than any other resource for kids with LD.
You watch your teen with learning disabilities struggle, and you would do anything you could to help them overcome their challenges. Perhaps you have been working with the school system for some time refining the IEP to meet his or her needs to make learning more attainable at school. But, constantly feeling behind, perhaps “stupid,” and not mainstream like the other kids have caused your child to withdraw and develop what appears to be anxiety and depression. Not only that, you’re not confident the IEP is all that effective.
Teenagers with learning disabilities are often subject to bullying. They may get put down by peers, teachers, and others in the school system. Low self-esteem comes with this. Once that low self-esteem takes hold and “I just can’t do it” rolls in, they fail in school. Research suggests these adolescents often turn to drugs and alcohol. Frustration, sadness, even shame can lead to a dangerous place.
THAT WAS EVERY DAY. THEN, COVID HAPPENED
Now more than ever, your teen with learning disabilities is experiencing feelings of isolation, helplessness, worthlessness, coupled with less structure and academic support.
Think about what repeated “failure” over and over again does to your child.
Where is a parent to turn?
A tutor can be helpful academically during a pandemic. But, teens with learning disabilities most often don’t have the right support. A tutor is a resource but is not the kind of support that addresses the teen with learning disabilities’ self-esteem, interpersonal skills, or the life skills to help them grow up and become a healthy adult.
Therapists can be hard to find these days, let alone the right therapist that resonates with your child, with an increase in anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and domestic abuse during this pandemic.
But, lacking self-esteem in the first place due to a learning disability does not necessarily mean your adolescent requires treatment. Teens with learning disabilities often are struggling, not because of an illness, but because they do not yet have the skills they need in order to handle life. These kids need somebody to help establish a mindset and approach to the challenges.
Let’s look at the difference between therapy and mentoring. Therapy is for the treatment of psychological disorders, whereas mentoring guides your teen through development, finding direction, and becoming a healthy and capable adult.
So much of what a teen with learning disabilities is struggling with is growing up. Often times this is more so than any mental illness. Our education system and society emphasize “what are you going to do” and what boxes need to be checked to have the instruction and training for that job.
Most teens, but especially those with learning disabilities, struggle with having vocational direction in the first place. The constant pressure to figure out what they are going to do kills any motivation for the day-to-day. Often, adolescents with learning disabilities will tell a story of themselves in a very limited space.
A mentor can walk your teenager through the steps of finding real DIRECTION in their life, starting where they are at. We begin with asking who do I want to be and who is going to help me get there, rather than what do I want to do.
A mentor can teach your teen how to live their lives with a positive approach. That having learning disabilities does not have to be limiting; instead, they learn differently. Your young adult can then begin to orient themselves towards their possibilities and not their limitations.
COVID is especially isolating for your teen, who learns differently. I am here to support, listen, and teach direction to your struggling adolescent. Contact me if you would like to discuss mentoring for your teenager.
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