School can be a difficult environment for children – embarrassment is an issue that can have a significant effect on learning.

A few years ago I was conducting a workshop on self-esteem with adults who had learning disabilities. In order to get them in touch with deep emotions, I innocently asked them to think about their most embarrassing moment. One man said, “Every day in school was my most embarrassing moment.” All of the other participants heartily agreed.

This made me sick. I needed to explore this further and have since asked dozens of LD adults about embarrassment. Without fail, every single one shared this experience.

Parents and teachers, please stop reading for a moment and think of your most embarrassing moment—the thing you’ve never shared with anyone else. Doesn’t it make you sick to your stomach, anxious, stressed? Whatever that thing that you did was, can you even begin to imagine if you had to do something just as embarrassing every single day in front of your peers?

This is what happens to our kids in school. No matter how much teachers and parents try to protect them, it still happens. Ask any child who the good and bad readers are in his class and he will tell you. Every child I’ve worked with has had to read aloud in class. It’s no better when they are excluded from reading aloud because everyone still knows why. Being removed from class for learning assistance is another horrible experience. Every child knows it as the “dummy class” even though they may be reprimanded for calling it that.

One man told me that his parents would talk about his learning difficulties in front of him. They discussed it with their friends, his teachers, and anyone who would listen. To help me understand the devastation of this, he said it would be like him telling their friends at a party the details of how lousy his wife was in bed—with her present! If he repeatedly did this, it would be classed as emotional abuse. It would certainly be grounds for divorce. Yet parents do this to their kids all the time.

What You Can Do if Embarrassment is an Issue for Your Child

Save these discussions for the privacy of your bedrooms, or better yet, when the child is at school or a sleepover. Meet with teachers and principals without the child. Educate yourself by reading books that focus on methods of correcting the deficient cognitive skills rather than accommodating or compensating for them. Keep these books in closed cupboards or drawers rather than in open bookshelves or on coffee tables. Embrace the things your child is good at and give praise frequently.

If your child is struggling, call us at (604)539-1386 or toll-free in Canada at 1-855-539-1386.