The Competitive Advantage of Learning Differences

Is your struggling learner super competitive?


Before you get mad at me for misinterpreting the term “competitive advantage,” I promise I’ll talk about what gives students with learning differences an edge up in life.


First, though, let’s talk about how to use your child’s competitive nature to your advantage.


Two boys in karate gear sparring together, leg to fist block, blue background, one red belt, one blue belt. Caption above image reads: The Competitive Advantage of Learning Differences.

Time to Win!

Personally, I love to win.  I don’t know many people who don’t.  I don’t consider myself to be all that competitive, though.  Some children are naturally competitive.  Some are not.


When it comes to students with learning differences, you can understand why winning might be exceptionally important.  A child who does everything in his power to succeed at learning, yet continues to “fail” without understanding why, likely feels defeated.  Seeking out opportunities to feel a sense of control and success seems like the natural thing to do.


If your child loves to win, let’s give him plenty of opportunities to do so.


Play to Learn

If you’ve been with me for a while then you know I love educational games.  Games can build processing speed, auditory memory, verbal skills, and so much more.


You might be thinking to yourself, “Yeah, games are great and all, but how do you measure progress?”


To that I say, let games just be fun!


We generally use educational games in therapeutic practice as extra support, as reinforcement for the skills we want to strengthen.


Games build confidence.  Games take the pressure off of learning new things.  Games teach us how to deal with disappointment.  Besides, games are just a whole lot of fun!


If you feel you MUST measure how well a specific game is “working” to strengthen a specific skill, measure your child’s baseline of that skill before you start playing.  (We tackle baseline measurement inside of online parent training here.)


Then, just be sure to play the game consistently for at least a few weeks before you measure that skill again.  I don’t normally recommend that you use games as your sole skill-building exercise.  However, if that’s the only way (for now) that your child will participate in learning activities, that’s one option for you.


Your Child’s Best Opponent

You don’t actually need a true game in order to tap into your child’s competitive nature.  If the goal is to improve time on a task, for instance, let your child compete against her own best opponent… herself.


How long did you focus on this activity yesterday?  2 minutes?  Great!  Do you think that you can beat your time?


If she’s the super competitive type, watch as she dives right in to best herself.


The Actual Competitive Advantage

Okay, okay.  I did promise that I would talk about what gives struggling learners an edge up in life.


Are you in the camp who already sees the gifts in the struggles?


Or, are you in the camp who doesn’t believe your struggling learner could possibly have an advantage over traditional learners?


Either way, here’s what I believe.  I believe that adversity is a good thing.  Adversity builds skills that are absolutely essential to life, to succeeding at life, and to actually enjoying our experience of it.


Children with learning differences learn something at a very young age that others may not: that they can do hard things.  They learn to overcome obstacles.  They develop exceptionally creative solutions.  If we guide them properly, they learn to appreciate that they see the world differently than others do.  They learn not to resist who they are, but embrace the differences.  They learn resilience.


How many adults do you know who still haven’t quite learned those lessons?


In this case, our children who learn differently are the clear winners.


Want to help them win even more?  Come see what online parent training is all about.