How to Make Your Child Hate Learning

Dear Dr. Linda,

Our son is in ninth grade, but if you looked at his writing, you’d think he was in second. He writes as little as possible and what he does write is illegible.

Lately, when he has to write a paper for school, he won’t even show it to us or tell us about it. We contacted his English teacher because he’s failing English, which we learned when we went online. His teacher told us that he believes our son has a writing disorder called dysgraphia.

Sign Up for E-News

I used to have him rewrite and rewrite before I’d let him hand in anything. There were times when I actually threw his papers in the trash. His teacher thought that was a horrible thing for me to do and said, “That’s probably why he’s so afraid to write.” Do you think he’s right?


Dear Marla,

It sounds like your son probably does have dysgraphia, which is a writing disorder. The handwriting of people with dysgraphia looks as if a chicken walked across the page—it is illegible, spelling is often atrocious, and punctuation is missing. There may be one period at the end of 10 lines and nothing capitalized.

Some children and teens struggle with dysgraphia every day. Fortunately, for them, computers exist. Unfortunately, though, because many parents have never heard of it, they end up destroying any chance their child has for loving writing. It’s sad.

Parents have the power to foster or destroy their children’s academic success. They don’t often realize it because they’re following their own parents’ rules. It worked for me, they think, so it’ll work for my children. But especially when a child has a reading, writing or math disorder or another brain-related disorder that interferes with learning, it’s a sure bet they’ll be affected. But children with learning disabilities aren’t the only ones. Here are a few other things you can do that will guarantee that any child stops being excited by learning.

How to diminish your child’s natural love of learning:

• When your child doesn’t know how to spell a word, tell them to look it up. Stop. Think about that. Generally speaking, you have to already know how to spell something in order to look it up in a dictionary.

• When your child is writing a paragraph or paper, stop and make him correct misspelled words in the middle of it. The flow of creativity stops when you have to stop in the middle and think about spelling. If you’re writing a report, do you run “Spell Check” before you’re done writing? If he’s writing it by hand, don’t make him stop and look up a word—if you know how to spell it, tell him.

• When your child asks you a question, take as much time as you can to answer it. This is a fine strategy if you actually don’t want your kids to ask you a lot of questions. School-aged kids have already spent a whole day in school listening to their teachers, so if your answer goes on for hours, they’ll stop asking. Most kids would rather lose credit on homework questions than ask Mom or Dad and sit there for hours more. But you’re their greatest allies—if you listen to their questions and provide brief answers that actually help them make the right connections, you’ll be the hero!

• If your child doesn’t do well on a test or assignment, lecture him, ground him, and tell him he’s lazy. Really? You’re his parent, not his parole officer. Your job is to find out why s/he didn’t do well. Maybe your child didn’t understand the subject well enough. Maybe s/he hasn’t learned or developed good study skills. Maybe the test was based on a movie your child didn’t see because he was home sick. I have never met a child who is lazy, but I’ve met plenty who were confused, anxious, hungry or don’t know how to take notes or review for tests.

Marla, I’m sorry to tell you, but your son’s teacher is probably right. Making him write and rewrite when he has a brain-related dysfunction that actually affects, among other things, his ability to manage fine-motor control over a pencil—and throwing what it’s taken him hours to write in the trash—probably has caused him to be afraid to write

As parents, we’re all guilty. Because our parents did it or because we don’t have time, without realizing it, we sometimes destroy our children’s desire to learn. So, next time your child asks for help with a homework assignment, asks a question, or brings home a grade that’s lower than you know his ability to be, stop and think. You’re the most important influence and the first defense.

Dr. Linda

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


I Do Not Make Stuff Up!

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote in my column, “Watergate analogies apply to Obama, not Trump,” that President Obama’s Justice Department planted a spy in the Trump campaign. I said I used the term “spy” because this was a counter-intelligence operation, not a criminal investigation, where the term informant would have been proper.

That statement has been brought ...

Here's What You Missed Last Week

Last week, the Daily News ran a headline, “When is our father coming home?” This dealt with a person here illegally, married to an American woman with a family, who was arrested at an Army base while delivering pizza. You are supposed to think that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), under Trump, is tearing families apart. As usual, it was a crock of cow pies. It was ...

Reagan on Trump

The party of “Honest Abe” has now become the party of Dishonest Don, and what follows are some disturbing displays of a Republican Party that has become devoid of conscience:

• More than 4,600 American citizens dead in Puerto Rico—a postscript to the government’s abysmal response to the widespread devastation of Hurricane Maria; 
• The underhanded ...

The Rich Get Richer, and We’re Paying For It

According to a Harvard University study published late last year, most Americans believe that the richest 20 percent of Americans own just half of the nation’s wealth. Wrong! The top 20 percent own 93 percent of the nation’s wealth, and the top 1 percent own 40 percent of that wealth. Additionally, the top 10 percent of earners in 2017 took home more than half the nation’s ...

What Kind of Sports Parent Are You?

Social media recently showered a lot of likes and love on a high school pitcher in Minnesota whose team was playing in a regional final that would send the winning team to the state championship game.

After the last batter of the game struck out, the pitcher did something unheard of. Rather than spontaneously join his teammates in an on-field celebration, as is customary, the pitcher ...

Competing—Against Yourself

This is the time of year when students are recognized at public ceremonies for notable achievements in their studies, their sports and in their extracurricular pursuits.

Where we live, there are awards in various sports that are named for our son, who also is memorialized by town ballfield Harrison Apar Field of Dreams and a charitable foundation of the same name.

Due to a rare dwarfism, ...

I Come from the Land Down Under

I know this is a family column, so I’m going to put this in as delicate terms as possible.

This morning I woke up and I knew, as sure as the sun shines over Bora Bora, that something was very, very wrong in that place in my body where the Bora Bora sun doesn’t shine.

It’s that place I used to refer to my daughter as her hoo-hoo. But it certainly wasn’t a happy ...

Upcoming Events


Wed, June 27, 9:00 AM

Putnam County Department of Health, Brewster

PCDOH Free HIV Testing Day

Health & Wellness