Being a parent isn’t easy in any way.
The saying goes, having kids will not only be the most challenging thing you’ll do in life, but also the most rewarding. As a parent, you take on a tremendous responsibility for your child’s well-being. Everything you do and say helps to shape or hinder your child’s development and personality. The job becomes even more challenging when you have a child with special needs.
A parent’s role is ever-changing where every day is a new day with a new set of challenges, and a new set of praises as well. You have to give love, support, and guidance to your loved ones through the easy and tough situations throughout their lives. But parents are amazing and with a little help, you can do it and be an excellent parent for your child.
Learn More about Your Child’s Needs
Knowing the specific needs your child makes taking care of them a little easier. The more you know about their needs, the better you can prepare to help your child. Learning about various autism and disability needs will also broaden your perspective.
If you don’t learn, you will focus more on what your child cannot do. You will constantly compare your child with another child. It’s not only unfair but also counterproductive and will hinder your child’s development.
Just because your child has a specific way of doing things, it doesn’t make him/her unfit. They do certain things differently and that’s absolutely okay! Don’t get upset and look down on your child. Embrace the new normal, stay positive and fair.
It wouldn’t hurt to adjust the expectations you have set. Having a special need doesn’t mean being unsuccessful in life. You also need to be mentally and emotionally strong for the sake of your child.
Get a Referral for Evaluation
In most cases, it’s the teachers who give a referral for a child’s evaluation of any special needs. If you notice or feel your child needs an assessment, It’s best to seek out a professional. The specifics around your child’s special needs will be revealed in the evaluation. It will help you understand your child’s differences so you can plan for his/her future better.
Enroll in Special Needs Education
As a parent, you want to give your child the best education possible. So, make it a priority to enroll him/her into a special needs class. That way the teachers can prepare your child for an Individual Education Program (IPE). The IPE is specially designed to help children with specific needs.
Help with Homework
Set a specific time for doing homework with your child. Ask questions and be patient while they figure out the answer. Don’t forget to praise them for their right ones. This will encourage their learning drive and make them more confident.
Help Build Self-Confidence
Children don’t like to think that they are different. It puts a dent in their self-confidence and makes them struggle in the classroom. This doubt will also affect how they interact with their peers. Talk to your child and try to understand why they are feeling down and encourage the dialogue. Through this process, they feel unheard and most importantly, shows to them that you genuinely care about their well-being.
It’s only natural that everyone will have strengths and weaknesses. Make them feel positive by teaching them not to give up. Set small day-to-day goals and by completing them daily, they will build up their self-esteem and rebuild their confidence.
Focus on the Big Picture
You are preparing your child for a better future. Perhaps it means having a job and a family and goes beyond just getting good grades in school. So, the main focus should be on helping your child become independent. So help your child succeed in life and not just in school.
Your child may have a special need, but he/she also needs discipline in life. This means that they need to understand and respect the rules set by their parents/guardians. You might need to adjust a few of them along the way to help their learning process.
Build a healthy life
Develop a healthy lifestyle that best suits your child. Possibilities around eating healthy, doing exercises and sleeping on time are some that helps encourage a healthier life. Also, perhaps helping your child to play outside can be another component that helps to improve their social skills. It will also help keep their mind fresh and focused.
Make sure your child is getting proper nourishment. Having a healthy meal plan is vital for their growth and development. Remember that children need a healthy amount of sleep to rest and recharge so we recommend to catch those z’s early!
Cut off screen time to make sure your child is adequately rested. A sleep-deprived child will have trouble learning in school. We encourage setting a bedtime routine, introducing it slowly, and transitioning your child to follow it.
You don’t need to babysit your child 24/7. Let them grow into their unique personality. Allow them some independence but if you’re not sure how much, please work with your respective clinical treatment team to assess what would be realistic for your loved one.
Take Time for yourself
Don’t forget to take care of yourself. It won’t do anyone any good if you burn yourself out while tending to your child’s needs. You need to be emotionally and mentally fit to create a healthy life.
Your child depends on you. You won’t be much help to your child if you are exhausted and stressed. So please take time for yourself. Do something fun that helps you relax. You should also eat healthy and squeeze in a good amount of sleep.
If possible try and join a support group. Talking and sharing about daily struggles will help you realize that you’re not alone. Other parents facing the same struggles will encourage and support you. Besides, you might learn a few new ways of helping your child thrive.
Ask for Help
You don’t have to be a supermom or superdad all the time. Ask for help. Your spouse, family, and friends can help lighten the workload. So, don’t shy away from delegating a few tasks to your trusted circle of friends and family.
Not all days will be the same. There will be good and bad days. Think of your family as a team, because you alone cannot win this battle – proper teamwork and support from your village will!
Raising a child with special needs can take a toll on you. Nevertheless, you play an essential role in your child’s development. You are your child’s best guide and role model.
We hope these pointers will help you plan a little better in taking care of your loved one.