Self-Care Tips for Parents of Special Needs Children
written by Alicia Muñoz, LPC, posted on GoodTherapy.org
Being the parent of a child with a disability carries with it unique responsibilities, stressors, and rewards. It requires an extra dose of emotional resilience, perseverance, and resourcefulness. Powered by the same (or an even stronger) drive to nurture, protect, and empower their children as parents of kids perceived as normatively abled, parents of children with physical, intellectual, or developmental disabilities such as autism spectrum issues, spina bifida, or Down syndrome often face profound social and systemic prejudices. These “invisible” obstacles can be all the more agonizing when they are unacknowledged.
The Global Partnership for Education notes “children with disabilities remain the most excluded group [when it comes to educational opportunities], discriminated not only because of their disability but also because of lack of understanding and knowledge about its causes, implications, and stigma.” Even parents seeking to support their child with attention-deficit hyperactivity (ADHD) or physical conditions such as blindness or mobility issues can find themselves overwhelmed by the challenges of getting proper testing or access to a restroom or play space. When a child’s disability dovetails with preexisting societal or cultural prejudices related to gender, race, religious affiliation, or sexual identity, the challenges intensify, with an impact on parents that peers, colleagues, and others may not fully comprehend or appreciate.
As parents of children with disabilities proactively seek information and support and advocate for their children, they may discover frustrating limitations that reinforce a sense of isolation or exclusion and stoke emotions such as grief or anger. As a result of these and other factors, parents seeking support for their special needs children have special needs of their own when it comes to self-care.
How to Get Your Mind Off Something Or Someone
written by Hillary Gruener, published on Word From the Bird
How dare those unwanted thoughts slither through your mind, wreaking havoc on good sleep, positive thinking, and getting in the way of you living your best life. Yes, we’ve all been there — a thought that you just can’t get out of your head, whether it’s about a person, the lyrics of a song, or a replay of what you should have said that just keeps coming back. Whatever it stems from, you want it gone, and thankfully, I have some great ideas for you.
Everything starts in our minds, from our physical health to our well-being and happiness. So, as you know, a thought you can’t shake is just as frustrating as getting sick, if not worse.
When the thought is negative or unproductive, it can cause stress, keep you from sleeping, and affect your overall health.
What to Do (and Not Do) When Children Are Anxious
When kids are anxious, it’s natural to want to help them feel better. But by trying to protect kids from the things that upset them, you can accidentally make anxiety worse. The best way to help kids overcome anxiety is to teach them to deal with anxiety as it comes up. With practice, they will be less anxious.
When a child gets upset in an uncomfortable situation and their parents take them out of the situation, they learn that getting upset is a good way to cope. Instead, it’s helpful for parents to let kids know that they’re going to be okay, even if they’re scared. You can’t promise your child that nothing bad will happen. But you can express confidence that they can face their fears and feel less afraid over time.
You can show your child empathy without agreeing with their fears. For example, you might say: “I know you’re scared to get this shot. It’s okay to be scared. You can get through this, and I’m going to help you.” It’s usually helpful to avoid leading questions (“Are you worried about the test tomorrow?”). Instead, ask open questions (“How do you feel about the test tomorrow?”). You can use your tone of voice and body language to show your child that you’re calm, which can help them stay calm too.