A Question From A Parent
Our young son has been diagnosed with ‘Dyslexia’ and is struggling at school. The hardest thing we are having trouble with is his constant ‘getting in trouble’ at school for bad behaviour and lying constantly. Is this also part of the dyslexic behaviour? We can see him do something wrong and then he will lie straight to our faces about it. Every day when he comes home from school, the teacher informs us about what bad behaviour he has shown today. Many of his friends are starting to distance themselves from him, as he is now known as the troublemaker. This is very hard for a parent, as we know he has a great personality and great imagination. What can we do to help him?
Thank you for your email and for sharing about your son. I will do my best to answer your question, but keep in mind that this is just my opinion, as I do not know your son personally. Children who struggle at school due to dyslexia will often develop strategies to ensure their peers or others do not see them as the dumb kid. One strategy can be becoming the ‘naughty kid’. I am assuming the lying might be a part of this. Being a good liar is often seen by experts to be an indication of high intelligence. But being an obvious liar is really more of an attention seeking strategy. When children can’t get ‘good attention’ for being capable and good at something, they will often settle for ‘bad attention’. It is all about getting the attention really, not whether it is good or bad.
As it sounds like this is becoming a problem for him, his teachers and for you, it is time to act and nip this in the bud.
I cover this in detail in my book, Helping Children With Dyslexia, but in general I would suggest that you need to give him an opportunity to define himself differently. Rather than the naughty kid who struggles with some aspects of his schoolwork, he needs to be the kid who is; good at sport, creative writing, chess, public speaking, building, music, supporting others etc.
Once he has a new definition, he will become more confident and happier within himself and hopefully the bad behaviour will begin to cease. From a parenting perspective, it is also time to talk about the long term consequences for the child who becomes branded as the child who does not tell the truth. As in the story, ‘The Boy Who Cried Wolf’, when something really important happens, people need to be able to trust his version of events. This is particularly important in the teenage years, when teens can get themselves in trouble and will lie to avoid the consequences.
He also needs to know that there is still time to change his ways and that his friends will begin to spend more time with him if he improves his behaviour. Most Children are very forgiving and generally want the best for each other.
I hope this helps.
Wishing you and your child every success