Why Children Hate to Read the Medical and Psychological Determinants

Children may hate to read because of psychological and physical reasons Children need help to motivate them to read

It’s a parent’s nightmare, it is homework time and their children just refuse to read. What could be causing this outright refusal? The founder and executive director of the National Reading Styles Institute, Dr. Marie Carbo is often asked why children hate to read. She maintains that being able to read well at a young age will ensure a successful reading outcome throughout life.

Psychological studies have shown that children who become adults who do not read very well are less successful in life than their peers.

Of course we can break the reasons why children hate to read down to both medical and psychological factors:


They may have difficulty seeing the text and need glasses. Or they may have an organic brain disorder


They may be a developmental or learning disability such being mentally handicapped or they may have a learning disability such as dyslexia making it extremely difficult to read.


There are many reasons why a child refuses to read. Children with low self-esteem will not want to read in public fearing that they are not good enough.

In turn, they might be severely chastised or ridiculed by some parents when they make a mistake while reading.

They may feel embarrassed to read out loud which is also related to self-esteem. Some kids will say they don’t like the sound of their voices. They may compare themselves to better readers and feel they are not as good. This may not even be the case. They may be just as good as the other readers. Only, they just fail to see it.

Dr. Carbo states that much focus is placed on children who cannot read well. This includes children who have a medical condition preventing them from reading successfully. However, a growing concern in America is that there are children who do read well, but just refuse to do it. She says these kids simply get turned off.

Other psychological factors

Dr. Carbo states that kids simply are distracted. In the past there were less distractions. Today there is TV, video games, and so on, which can take them away from reading.


They also get bored with reading and once children lose interest in reading it is hard to get them back on board. Some of this boredom can be attributed to the dullness of the classroom reading assignments which have very little to do with the lives of the students who are reading them.

Lack of practice and motivation

If children are not motivated to read they will not practice. Dr. Carbo maintains that motivation decreases with age. Even high school students who are good readers can feel like they are climbing a mountain when they have to read a chapter from a book. Without practice students will not develop the required skills and ease of reading. They will not read fast and later on in life this will also affect their university studies when enormous amount reading is requires in many disciplines. The ability to read well and comprehend what is read is also crucial for adults in the work environment, social environment, and at home.

How parents can distinguish between a psychological reason for not wanting to read or a brain disorder

If you find that your child is struggling with school material and age appropriate material from the library you can ask the librarian to point out age appropriate material. Or, if your child is reversing letters such as b’s and d’s it may very well be a physical reason. Make an appointment with the school and your child’s pediatrician to further investigate the problem.

If your child complains of physical ailments such as stomach cramps when trying to read or in anticipation of reading, there can be a psychological reason behind the refusal to read.

How parents can motivate children to read

Children role model and so you should read in front your child and discuss what you have read with the child. Read your own reading material to them don’t be limited to children stories, just make it is age appropriate.

Have the child read from his or her book and engage in conversation about the story just read. Make reading fun. My son did not like to read and what I did was to read a sentence and then get him to read a sentence from his book and it worked out very well. Remember not to be judgmental because your child’s self esteem is at stake.

Children may find their reading assignments boring; therefore, supplement those assignments with books that captivate your child’s interest. Consult your local librarian for fun reading material, which is age appropriate. You may even be able to find good reading material online.

If you find that the child is stumbling too much on the reading assignment read it out loud for the child one or two times then have the child read it. Reading should be fun for children not torture.

Ask for help

Discuss the problem with the teacher and ask for tips and strategies to help your child succeed at reading. Do a Google search for reading tips, or purchase some books by experts on the subject.


When Kids Hate to Read


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M 5446
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