As parents, you must have hopes and dreams for your children. You want the best of everything for them and want them to be perfect. Having a child who has special needs may be more demanding on the family’s efforts. It is clear that the additional demands on parents of chronically ill children cause stress that affects the whole family. So how can you deal with the problems of a special child? Trying to focus on the here and now, enjoying the good times, and figuring out how to make the challenging times better can help you in the longer run.
Here are some tips to deal with the problems of a special child
Understand your child’s special needs
Acquiring knowledge about your child’s needs is an important part of becoming an effective voice for your child. There are many types of resources available – parent networks, paediatric help, books by specialists, etc. Even support from friends, relatives and other resources or seeking appropriate professional help can turn the tide. Professionals can tailor programs and therapies to cater to the specific needs of children with special needs. Be prepared to describe your child’s behaviours, language skills and social skills when you seek professional help for your child.
Don’t compare your children
While it is easy to drift towards comparing your child’s performance with their siblings or other children, it is counter-productive. It can seriously setback the achievements that your child is striving for. Helping the child to negotiate social issues becomes more important and challenging as they grow. Encourage the siblings and peers to understand the child by giving accurate information on their needs. Reconsider the content of the task if the child shows lack of interest or motivation rather than pushing for completion.
Speak your child’s language
It is assumed that children with special needs have trouble learning. But when you learn to speak their language, you will find out that they are actually very good learners. Learn to talk to your child in the language they understand. Children with low verbal skills can perceive well visually. Use pictures and write-outs to communicate effectively.
Keep up the discipline
When a therapist assigns your child with a task, it is important to do the assignments regularly and diligently. Start keeping a log of problem areas and accomplishments to watch out for patterns. Though it may be difficult and challenging, your child needs the guidance, direction and structure that disciplines them towards success.
Remember you are not alone
Being the parent of a child with special needs can be lonely at times and overcome feelings of guilt and isolation from the social circle. But the truth is that you are not alone in this parenting journey. Networking with support and parent groups can keep you abreast of the shared experiences. It is encouraging and comforting at the same time to get to know how other parents with similar challenges are coping with same issues on a daily basis.
Don’t give in to self-doubt
When you are striving hard alone in raising a child with special needs, moments of stress and self-doubt will be a norm. Always remember, you know your child better than anyone else. Proactively trying to avoid areas where doubt could show up is worth doing in order to protect your own mental health. Remaining light-hearted in times where you are being tested y your child can make them feel happy and fulfilled.
Pay adequate attention to your spouse and other children
Parents with special needs children should remind themselves to pay sufficient attention to their personal needs, spouse and other children. Having the balance in your life does promote effective parenting of your special needs child. Caring only for the child can take an increasing toll on the family as a whole. Especially the psychological health of other children. While maintaining healthy relationships with your family, gain their support and help in continuing the journey with your special needs child. According to the National Mental Health Association and the Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health (1993), parents who are caring for children with mental illness find it extremely difficult to get their own mental health needs met while trying to meet the mental health needs of their child.
Pay attention towards your emotions
Elgar and colleagues (2004) found that being a mother to a child with mental illness is associated with high levels of distress and depression. In addition, Barkley and colleagues (1992) found that mothers who deal with problems of a special child were two to three times more likely to be depressed than other mothers.
These simple coping techniques can help you cope with the problems of a special child and at the same time keeping your entire family strong and united.