Recent research has focused on the role of self-esteem and self-handicapping strategies in the school domain. Self-handicapping refers to maladaptive strategies employed by adults and children for protection and maintenance of positive school self esteem. In this study the self-esteem and the self-handicapping strategies of children with dyslexia, reading comprehension disabilities, and mathematical disabilities were compared to a control group with normal learning. There were 56 children whose mean age was 8 (23 girls, 33 boys), attending Grade 3 of primary school. These pupils were selected by scores on a battery of learning tests commonly used in Italy for assessment of learning disabilities. Analyses suggested these children with dyslexia, reading comprehension disabilities, and mathematical disabilities had lower ratings of self-esteem at school and employed more self-handicapping strategies than did children whose learning was normal. More research is required to identify and examine in depth the factors that promote adaptive strategies to cope with children's reading difficulties.