5 Tips for Parents of Children with Special Needs
Parenting a child with special needs, like all parenting, is full of highs and lows. It is important for parents to recognize that these highs and lows are part of the journey. Over time, you will learn to celebrate the highs and find coping mechanisms and develop resiliency when facing the lows. Here are some tips for parents:
1. Be mindful of good moments throughout the day
Train yourself to pause, be aware of, and take pleasure in the good things. Try to stay positive and think of all the small accomplishments and victories.Have fun with your children.At the end of each day, look back and think of all the positive things that happened that day.
2. Find support systems
Recognizing when you need help and asking for it can make life much easier. Ask professionals for more information about your child’s needs and what steps you need to take to help him/her. When you have this knowledge, you will feel more confident in helping your child. Ask family members and friends for help with errands or child care so that you can focus on what needs to be done or take a much-needed break. Find a support group.
Meeting with other parents can be helpful, giving opportunities to share experiences and learn from each other. Just knowing you are not alone makes things a little easier.
3. Be flexible and choose your battles
When things do not go as you expected, try to go with the flow so that you do not experience added stress.Prioritize when something is worth the “fight” or not so that you can save your energy for the things that truly matter.
4. Take care of yourself
You will not be able to be there for your child in the best way if you are not well physically or emotionally.
- Eat well and drink lots of water
- Get enough sleep
- Take 5-10 minutes each day just for yourself.
- Do something relaxing (read, drink a cup of coffee, or mediate).
- Exercise, even if it is only 10 minutes
- Plan an afternoon/night out: a coffee with a friend, a massage, a movie
- Be kind to yourself always. There are no perfect parents and we all are doing the best that we can.
5. Take care of relationships
Take time out to nurture your relationship with your spouse.Prioritize time alone together.Understand that you each may have a different way of handling things but that you are a team and both want the best for your child and family.
Between doctor appointments and therapy schedules you will be spending much time and focus on your child with special needs. Be sure to spend quality time alone with your other children. Always answer questions honestly and ask them for their opinion if appropriate. Help build strong relationships between your children. Introduce them to other siblings of children with special needs.