Parenting a child with a learning or physical disability can be challenging, but there are things you can do to help your child to thrive.
No doubt, raising a child is a huge and challenging responsibility. These challenges can look even greater when your child has a physical or intellectual disability. Parenting a special needs child can often feel like you are on an emotional rollercoaster — sometimes you are up, other times you are down. Fortunately, there are things you can do to help your child with a learning disability develop the skills they will need to succeed in life.
Here are 8 practical strategies to help a child with special needs succeed:
1. Don’t Compare Your Child to Others
All kids will grow at their own pace whether they are different, typical, or have some extra challenges. If you feel your child is not meeting a development milestone that you have set, rather than getting upset, talk to your kid’s doctor. If you compare your child with a sibling, cousin, or even another child with the same disability, you are setting them (and yourself) up for disappointment. Your child is unique with his/her own challenges and strengths, so try not to compare them to anyone else.
2. Provide Your Child with a Calm Environment
If your child has a learning disability, chances are that he/she easily gets upset or discouraged. To avoid this, it is important to provide your child with a calm work area that is quiet and free from distractions. Organize your home so your child easily gets whatever he/she needs without asking or searching endlessly. When it comes time to provide feedback or guidance to your child, use a positive approach that minimizes stress and blame.
3. Identify Your Child’s Learning Style
When it comes to learning, everyone has their own unique learning style, whether or not they have a disability. Some people learn best by seeing; other people learn best by listening or doing. Whether your child is a visual learner, auditory learner, or kinesthetic learner, find which technique works best for your child and then make sure to apply that in a classroom or home study setting.
4. Forge a Partnership with Your Child’s Education or Childcare Provider
If you want to make sure that your child gets the support they require, it is crucial to have a close relationship with your child’s teacher or childcare provider. By working as a team with an open flow of communication, you can give them regular updates and encourage them to give you the same. As a result, the provider can customize the curriculum to best meet your kid’s needs. This will give your child the best opportunities for social integration, relationship building, literacy, and numeracy.
5. Properly Understand Your Child’s Disability
Try to learn as much as possible about your child’s disability. Remember, the more you know, the more you will be able to help them. A deep research dive will help you to find professionals who can help you understand your child’s disability, as well as support networks that can provide you with information and access to the latest therapies suitable for your child. Along the way, be open to innovative developments, such as reading tutoring for students with learning disabilities.
6. Socialize with Other Families
Socializing with other families who have children with similar disabilities will provide you and your family with much needed emotional support. It will also let your child interact with — and potentially build strong connections to — people whom he/she can relate to personally. This will expand their social circle as well as help in their emotional development. Seek out groups and clubs that engage children with learning or physical disabilities with sports or recreational activities in line with their interests and abilities.
7. Emphasize Healthy Lifestyle Habits
Your child’s diet, sleep, and exercise routines are very important for their emotional, mental, and physical growth. In order to better focus on study and other activities, your child with learning disabilities needs to eat a well-balanced diet and get 7-8 hours of sound sleep. These healthy lifestyle habits will definitely aid your child’s emotional and physical growth and development.
8. Remember to Take Care of Yourself
While taking care of their children, parents often forget to take care of their own needs. But when you ignore your own wellbeing, it is extremely difficult to create a healthy environment for your child to thrive. That’s why it is okay, if not essential, to ask for help from your spouse, friends, and family members. Make it a priority to take good care of yourself by eating a nutritious diet, getting enough sleep, and doing proper exercise. And give yourself permission for a time-out now and then to relax and decompress. Your child will thank you!
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