No doubt, it is disheartening to know that your child has a disability and will have to live with it for their whole life. But, that’s something you don’t have control over. However, it is completely in your control to help your child reach their full potential despite the disability and to build a loving bond with them. We understand that there cannot be a one-size-fits-all parenting hack, especially for children with disabilities. But, some common tips can help every parent with a child with special needs to give their child the best childhood they can have.
1. Accept Your Child the Way (S)he is!
The first and the most important thing about parenting is that you should accept your child for who (s)he is. Though it applies to all parents but it is more important for parents of a child with special needs because they may struggle to adjust to reality. Parents’ acceptance and love are the biggest strength for any child. Your acceptance will help the child to accept themselves and be confident about their identity. If you fail to show your acceptance, your child will struggle with a negative self-image for their whole life.
2. Focus on the Abilities of Your Child
We know every child with a disability is not blessed with some extraordinary abilities but every child is blessed with some ordinary abilities that can be polished and made extraordinary. If you are a parent to a child with a disability you should focus on their abilities. Let your child explore as many activities and hobbies as they want to explore and provide them proper guidance to master any of them. Even if you think your child cannot do something, let them try if they want to do it. Don’t limit your child with your limiting beliefs. The world has seen runners and dancers without legs.
3. Do Not Talk in a Negative Tone with Your Child
You might be distressed and helpless. You might not imagine a very bright future for your child with a disability. But, it’s never a good idea to put the burden of your negative beliefs on your child. You need to understand that your child is already dealing with much more pressure than other children of her age. The burden of negative talks, especially about her future, will hinder her growth potentials. Let the future be in the future; try to make your child’s present positive and loving. Do not tell your child what she cannot do or what she cannot achieve or how she is not up to your expectations. Do not do this to your child.
4. Do not be Overprotective for Your Child with Disability
Many parents tend to be overprotective of their children with disabilities. This might seem positive on the surface but it is not good for your child. You need to make your child as strong as he can be despite his disability. Your child needs to become strong enough to face the real world. This feat can be achieved only when you let your child grow and learn like other children of his age. Let your child play with other children and do not rush to protect your child if there’s any situation like playful fights among the children. Prepare your child to tackle bullies on her own. Let them understand that you are not going to be present everywhere to protect them. They need to learn to be as much independent as they can.
5. Do Not Make Your Special Need Child ‘Special’ in the Family
This point is very important if your child is not a single child. You need to give attention to every child. This is not just important for your relationship with your children but also for a strong siblings bond between your children. By giving equitable love and attention to every child you can build a support system for your children who will stand for each other in the future. Paying too much attention to one child is not at all good for the family. If you involve (you definitely should) your other children in household chores do the same with your child with a disability. If you keep doing everything for your child stating the fact that they have a disability, they might develop the habit of using their disability as an excuse. Provide the support and guidance but let them do things on their own. Nick Vujicic, who was born without limbs, was told to make his bed every day like his siblings, and that childhood training shows in his personality and achievements.
6. Tell Your Child Everything they need to Know about their Disability
Talk to your child about their disability and how it affects his body and everything that needs to be told. Just as you would teach any child about their body parts and their functions, you need to make your child aware of their disability. The disability is part of your child’s existence and she deserves information about it. While making your child aware of the disability you might like to tell them that it’s part of their existence but does not define them. It will be their ability to tackle things despite their disability that will create their true identity.
7. Do Not Compare Your Child with Other Children
By the way, it applies to every child – every child is unique and should not be compared. Anyways, let’s come back to our focus – children with disabilities. Your child might not progress at the pace you expect them or see other children doing it. Do not get frustrated or put over pressure on your child. Encourage your child to do better than she did last time and celebrate every small improvement. Make your child compete with their own previous performance rather than competing with someone else. Sometimes, the reverse comparison happens too. If your child with a disability is performing extraordinarily well, praise her but do not tell her siblings that she can do it despite her disability and you cannot do it despite being ‘normal’. Never do this. Comparison is bad regardless of being positive or negative.
8. Let Your Child with Disability make Her Own Choices
Decision-making is a skill that needs to be nurtured from the very beginning. Children who are not given opportunities to make decisions in their childhood struggles to do it their whole life. Even when they make a decision, they seek someone’s acceptance. To make your child with a disability ‘real world-ready’, you need to nurture their decision-making skills from their childhood. Let them choose the dress they want to wear or the toy they want to buy. If it’s needed, you can explain to them the pros and cons of their choice but let them make the final decision. Suppose your daughter uses a wheelchair and chooses a dress that might get caught in her wheels, explain to her the situation but don’t force her to change her decision.
Having said all that, one important thing remains to be said – Take time for yourself and take care of yourself. Having a child with a disability does not mean that you cannot have your own life. In fact, it is good for your child too. Unless you are not healthy and happy yourself, you cannot raise a healthy and happy child. Children learn by seeing, so give your child a good example to learn how to live and enjoy life with all the responsibilities.
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"Parenting Tips for Parents of Child with Special Needs." Wecapable.com. Web. February 23, 2024. <https://wecapable.com/parenting-tips-child-with-special-needs/>
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"Parenting Tips for Parents of Child with Special Needs." (n.d.). Wecapable.com. Retrieved February 23, 2024 from https://wecapable.com/parenting-tips-child-with-special-needs/