Dyslexic Child Behavior Problems

Children with dyslexia may have behaviour and emotional problems. My little girl is prone to angry outbursts after a long day at school. Yet she is fun, lively and when she laughs it makes everyone in the room laugh too.

As a little girl with dyslexia I also struggled with my emotions and behaviour. I was highly sensitive to my emotions and found it had not to show how I was feeling. Sadly I was labelled as having behavior problems at school and I believe this was linked to my struggles being dyslexic.  

As an adult I have learned to control my emotions more, yet I still can get angry and anxious quite easily. A positive is that when there is a party I am usually the most lively person in the room.

Does dyslexia affect emotions?

Dyslexic children are more sensitive to feeling and showing emotions more. This can make them appear to have behavior issues. Their strong emotions can show as:

  • Anxiety
  • Frustration
  • Anger
  • Hitting/shouting
  • Depression
  • ADHD behaviour
  • Giddly Laughing

There are different reasons as to why dyslexia can affect a child's behaviour:

  • Sensitive to emotions: Scientific research has shown the brains of dyslexic children are more emotional. If they watch a sad film, it may make them really sad and cry more then other children.
  • Finding it hard to learn: Dyslexic children struggle more with learning, so may find school really hard. This can make them feel anxious, frustrated and even depressed. As they struggle to learn to read and write. This can then show as behavior issues, at school and at home.  
  • Struggling socially: A dyslexic child may struggle to understand how to make and keep friends. They may find it hard to communicate in groups and lack confidence. The child may have been labelled as having behavior issues at school, so other child may not want to pay with them.

How do you help a dyslexic child with emotions and behaviour?

Help a dyslexic child understand and talk about how they are feeling, before they have an angry outburst or have behavioural problems.

Try doing an "Daily Emoji" checkin. To learn more see video below and blog post "Dyslexia Support for Children with Strong Emotions".

Does dyslexia affect behaviour?

Dyslexia can affect a child's behaviour. This can be due to the dyslexic child being unhappy and struggling at school. It can also be caused by the child finding it hard to make friends and not feeling confident.

Behavioural issues can also be caused by the child being emotionally sensitive and struggling to control their emotions.

When the child is struggling, dyslexic behavioural issues may show as:

  • Avoidance of reading and writing tasks: Children with dyslexia may avoid activities that involve reading or writing, such as homework, reading aloud in class, or playing word games. This is because these activities can be very difficult and frustrating for them.
  • Impulsiveness and easily distracted: Children with dyslexia may have difficulty focusing and completing tasks. They may also be impulsive, acting without thinking first. This can lead to problems in school, such as not completing assignments or getting in trouble for talking out of turn.
  • Social withdrawal: Children with dyslexia may feel embarrassed or ashamed of their difficulties, which can lead to social withdrawal. They may also find it difficult to keep up with their peers academically, which can further isolate them.
  • Anger and frustration: Children with dyslexia may experience a lot of anger and frustration due to their learning difficulties. This can lead to outbursts of anger, tantrums, or other disruptive behaviours.
  • Low self-esteem: Children with dyslexia may have low self-esteem due to their struggles in school. They may feel like they are not as smart as their peers, which can lead to feelings of inferiority and worthlessness.

Are dyslexic children more prone to angry outbursts?

When a dyslexic child is feeling unhappy, their feelings may come out as angry outbursts. Often a dyslexic child may bottle-up their emotions during the school day, then come home and have angry melt-down.

Anger usually masks other emotions that the dyslexic child is feeling, these emotions maybe:

  • Frustration
  • Humiliation
  • Shame
  • Embarrassment
  • Low self-esteem
  • Fear
  • Sadness

Children with dyslexia may experience frustration and anger due to their difficulties reading. This frustration can manifest as aggressive behaviour.

Low self-esteem due to their struggles at school, can make them more likely to act out in aggressive ways.

Children with dyslexia may also experience social isolation due to their difficulties reading. This isolation can lead to feelings of loneliness and anger, which can contribute to aggressive behaviour.

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How to Help a Dyslexic Child Anger?

It is important to understand that not all children with dyslexia will exhibit aggressive behaviour. However, for those who do, early intervention is key.

Parents and teachers can help to reduce the risk of aggressive behaviour by providing support, before negative feelings bottle-up.

Here are some things that parents and teachers can do to help children with dyslexia who are experiencing aggressive behaviour.

  • Understand the triggers: Talk to the child about what trigger their aggressive behaviour. This could include things like reading in front of others, being asked to read out loud, or being put on the spot. See video below for 10 min activity to help and blog post for more: "Spot angry triggers".
  • Give support: Get the child with extra support and encouragement. Speak to their teacher about dyslexia assessments and ask for extra support in class. See blog post "Dyslexia Assessments" for more information.
  • Help the child, deal with their anger: Teach the child healthy ways for dealing with frustration and anger. This could include things like deep breathing, relaxation techniques, or taking a break from the task. See "Give Comfort" blog post for 10 minute activities to try at home.
  • Be Clear About Anger: Make it clear that anger and behaviour is something that the child can work on. That hitting and shouting, are not good ways to deal with emotions.  
  • Don't Join In: Try not to get angry yourself and react to the anger. Instead try to stay calm and talk to them about what they are feeling.

By taking these steps, parents and teachers can help to reduce the risk of aggressive behaviour in children with dyslexia.

Dyslexia and Behaviour Problems

Learn more about the link between dyslexia and social, emotional issue:

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