Praise your kids for what they’re bad at

What is Peter on about now? Praise your kids for what they’re bad at?

OK, not their bad behavior “Good job yelling at Mommy!”  no – that’s not what I mean at all.

But our LD kids get so little praise. And they try so hard. And, for our 2E kids, it’s even worse.

Let me talk first about LD without the 2E.  Let’s suppose your kid has dyscalculia (just to pick an LD that is not dyslexia!)  He struggles so!  And he hears  – all too often –

  • That’s not right
  • Try again
  • You’re not trying
  • I just showed you!

Yes, it’s frustrating for the parents and the teachers!  Imagine how it is for the kid!

Imagine if she heard instead

  • That’s a good try
  • I see what you did there!
  • I see how hard you’re trying.

A very different feeling!

But, this post is especially for the 2E kids. Because we often get praise for what we’re good at. The stuff we find easy. And almost never for the stuff we struggle with.  This certainly happened to me!  I got tons of praise for being good at math and reading – and none at all for struggling to make sure my shirt was on right or that I didn’t do any of the things I did wrong all the time.

This taught me that

  • Effort is pointless
  • Adults are stupid

Not the lessons you want to teach!



  1. Bravo, Peter — I run a school for gifted and 2e kids, and they are so fearful of being unmasked as not being perfect and great at everything. They’ve been told time and again that they’re so “smart” at reading, for example, that they pretend to understand math lessons when they don’t. They so need to be encouraged and praised for pushing through the discomfort of facing difficulty at every step. Let’s go out of our way to praise the easy to overlook small steps our kids struggle to take everyday.

  2. Thanks Micaela!

  3. I have a children with LD and I can’t seem to communicate this to my children’s teachers that how can she be told to try harder when she is doing her best.

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