Hermione Granger vs Percy Jackson.
That's the battle that raged in my home this weekend.
If you aren't familiar with these characters, let me give a little background. Both are heroes. Both are well respected and anyone would be proud to have one of them as their child. Hermione
is from the series Harry Potter
, and she always has a thick book in her hands, and spends most of her free time in the library. She is one of the heroines and stars of the series. Percy Jackson
, from Percy Jackson and the Olympians
, struggled in school due to his ADHD and dyslexia, but he finds out both of those are gifts that make him stronger. Like Hermione, he is also a hero in his series.
So, why did these two battle in my home this weekend?
I have a 3rd grader who has severe dyslexia. And a 1st grader who is reading on grade level.
Jealously is high, on both sides.
My younger child sees dyslexia as something that makes her older brother special and cool. She wants to be like the kids at Camp Half Blood, like Percy and his friends. However, she is my little Hermione Granger.
My 3rd grader, on the other hand, doesn't see the gifts that come along with his dyslexia just yet. He just wants to be like his sister, and have his dyslexia go away. He wants to be like the kids at Hogwarts Castle, but he instead belongs to Percy Jackson's world.
How do I help them realize that both worlds are pretty awesome places to be?
I turned to my friends at Learning Ally
, the parent support specialist staff. They are all parents who have children with learning differences. They have all been in my shoes. Here are their top tips for combating sibling rivalry and making sure ALL children's gifts are recognized as special.
1) The Gift of Time
Several members of our PSS team mentioned time, and how important it is to spend one-on-one time with each child.
"I think it's important to try and schedule individual time with your child. That may be a movie date or helping them find whatever it is they're interested in, regardless of whether it is something that you're interested in. Find time weekly to explore their interests/ hobbies and nurture them. Unplug from devices and play board games, teach them how to cook or take an art class together. Let your child lead, let them tell you how they want to spend one-on-one time. Plan together and write down the activities, then stick to it!" ~ Meriah Houser, PSS
2) Helping them Understand Differences
When the youngest sibling is the one who excels at reading, it can sometimes make the pains of struggling to read even more intense for the older child. Parent Support Specialist Norma Francullo
experienced this first hand:
"I recall when my youngest was in kindergarten, and my twins (who have dyslexia) were in 3rd grade, that my youngest would correct their reading. Not a great situation! It's important to talk to the atypical child and explain what learning disabilities are, because they, like their school mates, do not understand it and see accommodations as being special treatment and they see 'IEP kids' as not so smart. We have had to do a lot of educating even in our own home. She needed to learn that having dyslexia had nothing to do with lack of intelligence."
3) Be Open About Strengths and Weaknesses
This is important as children get older. They need to know we ALL, every single person on this earth, have things we are good at doing and things we struggle with doing. Parent Support Specialist Jennifer Biang
"I think it is important for everyone in the family to be familiar with their areas of struggle and their
gifts. More importantly, they need to learn to talk with each other about them. Take the time to help everyone develop themselves in a balanced way. I have a son who can not do math to save his life and a daughter who is dyslexic. He was joking around with her and said, 'We make a good team. I will read the math problems to you and you will solve them!'
Some parents think it is not a good idea to reveal your weaknesses, and are very good at hiding their own. This teaches the child to hide theirs. Everyone has them in some area or another, someone might be a great student but can not play sports, do art, fix things, be compassionate, be a good listener and friend, and that's OK. That is why it takes all kinds of brains to make this world go round."
4) Pay Attention to Distress Signals
Sometimes, the child without the learning difference feels left out due to all of the attention/tutoring/time the child with LD is getting. It's important to remember their feelings are valid, and they need our support too. From PSS Diane Taranto
"I often notice that, to this day, when I spend time with my dyslexic daughter, her non-dyslexic sister will sometimes interrupt what we are doing to get me to notice her. Just yesterday, I was helping my dyslexic with writing, when her sister comes storming down the stairs and suddenly says 'I have a history test tomorrow
and I'm really stressed!'
Sometimes I need to temporarily drop what I'm doing with my dyslexic daughter and devote time to her sister. Honestly, sometimes our dyslexic children appreciate the break! We need to remember how much our kids love us, and they all desire equal time and attention... and breaks too!"
5) Don't Be Afraid to Celebrate!
PSS Sally Pistilli
makes a good point. All of our kids need celebrations:
"We often celebrate each small achievement with LD kids (especially progress in school). Don’t forget to also celebrate those achievements with your non-LD kids. Don’t downplay the big achievements either, just to protect your LD child. It’s a tricky balance, but each child should be celebrated for success."
As a final note, I titled this blog "Hermione VS Percy" for a reason. This weekend my kids were most certainly jealous of one another, and it very much felt like a rivalry brewing. However, I'd like to end by saying it doesn't have to be that way. Most of the time, we can drop the "vs" and change the title of this blog to Hermione AND Percy. What a fabulous team the two of them make!
We'll learn together,
Did you know Learning Ally's parent support specialists
provide free one-on-one phone consultations to support you on your journey? Schedule your consultation by contacting us at 800.635.1403
or through your member dashboard. Not a member? Join today.