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


The Hatch Act and Immigration Updates

This is for information purposes only. So, when you see headlines like the recent “Kellyanne Conway cited for two violations of the Hatch Act,” you will have a working knowledge of what it means. First off, what is the Hatch Act? This has nothing to do with Orrin Hatch, senator from Utah. Simply put, it states one cannot advocate for or against candidates while serving in an official ...

There Is Always More to the Story

If you are getting your information from CNN, MSNBC, The New York Times or others in the mainstream media, you would think the Russians are no good dirty scoundrels, colluding with Trump to steal the election from the rightful heir, Hillary Clinton.

The leading Democrats in New York are all on board with this scenario, as are Democrats representing states across the country. You have heard ...

The ‘Feminist’ President ... Ha!

Incredibly, it wasn’t until 1987 that Congress finally acknowledged the part women have played in the great movements of American history, declaring March to be National Women’s History Month.

And each year since, as March rolls around, U.S. presidents have stood at the lectern, extolling the virtues of American women. In President Trump’s statement, released last week, he ...

To Harrison, L'Chaim!

At long last, the smile of spring approaches, as an angry winter recedes into good riddance. Our spirit is ready to be re-charged. Damn the power outages, full speed ahead!

For my wife, Elyse, daughter, Elissa, and me, this otherwise exuberant time of year brings a confusion of mixed emotions. In 2003, on the opening day of spring, March 20, which happens to be my birthday, our 15-year-old son ...

Anytown USA's Reality TV Show

Nowhere is the raw power of our Constitution’s First Amendment more earnestly practiced than in thousands of town halls across the land every time a citizen steps up to the podium to say his piece.

That also is where reality television can be seen at its rawest, as town meetings are televised to the local populace. All the familiar production values of reality TV are there in full color: ...

When It's Not OK to Ask If Everything's OK

There is this thing that I do that annoys the heck out of my family. Well, to be honest, there are a lot of things I do that annoy the heck out of my family, but I am thinking of one thing in particular.

Whenever someone is in the bathroom for what I determine to be an abnormally long period of time, I stand outside the bathroom door and yell,


I ...

I'm All Pumped Up

This time last year, I struggled with my New Year’s resolution to go to the gym.

This year, I have made significant progress. I am going to the gym on a semi-regular basis. And by semi-regular, I mean, I go often enough that I actually remember where it’s located between visits.

The bad news, however, is that my workouts are just, how would you say it? Lame. Yes, they’re ...

Upcoming Events

Sat, March 17, 7:30 PM

First Presbyterian Church of Yorktown, Yorktown Heights

Concert March 17: Songs of the Heart and the ...

Arts & Entertainment


Sat, March 24, 2:00 PM

South Putnam Animal Hospital, Mahopac

PCDOH Free Rabies Vaccination Clinic

Health & Wellness

Sat, March 24, 2:00 PM

South Putnam Animal Hospital, Mahopac

PCDOH Free Rabies Vaccination Clinic

Health & Wellness

Safety Is Schools' Top Priority

March 14, 2018

To the editor,

[Editor’s note: The following letter was sent by School Superintendent Anthony DiCarlo to Mahopac families and the school community.]

We are all saddened by the tragic events that took place in Parkland, Fla., several weeks ago, Mahopac’s collective thoughts and prayers for healing and strength are directed toward the families and students of Parkland.

I want ...