Parenting is hard. Parenting a child with special needs is super-hard; so hard that it catapults your parenting karma into superhero status. We know that there is nothing that we can say to take away all of the heartache, pain, and frustration of being a 24-hour caregiver to someone with special challenges. But, that doesn’t mean that we can’t try! So, here are six really important reminders to tell yourself when the road gets rough.
You Are Not Alone
According to The Department Of Health And Human Services, approximately 11 million American children, or 14% of kids in the United States alone, endure some kind of special challenge. There are many online support groups available for you to join. There is a group for everything from ADHD to vision impairment and anything in-between. Talking with other parents who are in a similar situation can be extremely effective, and a great place to blow off steam.
Mistakes Are Part Of Learning
If there is no guide-book for parenting, in general, there is certainly no proven method for parenting a special-needs child. Recognize that you are doing your best, and that this includes making mistakes from time-to-time. Remember that children are resilient, and that your child will actually benefit from seeing how you handle your less-than-perfect parenting moments.
Forgiveness Is Everything
Some people say that marriage is a constant exercise in forgiveness. We believe that this is also true of parenting. Not only will you be asked to forgive your child for doing illogical and sometimes irrational things, but you will also need to forgive yourself for how you react to such things. Be gentle with yourself; you deserve it!
Play-Time Is Therapeutic
Make time to simply sit and play with your child. Even though there are a million things you probably need to do, remind yourself that playing is learning and vice versa. Plus, playtime allows for extra bonding moments, which are ripe with those spontaneous and hilarious antics that your child is known for. Let yourself laugh with abandon, and feel your serotonin levels rising!
Compassion Is Key
There is a whole movement called “Compassionate Parenting,” (sign up here for weekly tips), that advocates for nonviolent and loving ways of raising children, and we love it! This approach works for any and all children, and we are including it here to remind you that you and your child deserve a life filled with love and compassion. An example of compassionate parenting may be to teach your child to care for a household pet by modeling good caretaking behavior. If age appropriate, you might even assign your child the job of watching for when the food bowl is empty. Science has already confirmed that practicing compassion makes us happier, so this is a wonderful tool to share with your child.
Listen To Your Heart
Most importantly, listen to that small, still, voice within that reminds you that you know your child better than anyone. Doctors, nurses, pediatricians, teachers, and other parents are all well-meaning, but only you live with your little bugger. Anoint yourself an expert on the subject, and trust what you know. Because as Dr. Seuss said, “There is no one alive who is you-er than you!”
If you would like to learn more about parenting a child with special needs, contact us. We are here to help!