Many of us have been the caretakers of children who others describe as “different.” Whether your child is developmentally delayed, mentally ill, or “quirky,” parenting can be challenging. This article will give you five helpful tips for parent the unique kid.
1. Don’t Blame Yourself
With rare exception, the parent is not to blame for a child being different from his or her peers. Usually, it’s due to biology or environmental factors outside of your control. Blaming yourself will only make parenting more difficult and can cause tension within your family. If you’re struggling with this, join a support group and let other parents help you.
2. Be a Sponge
It’s important to learn as much information as you can about the challenges your child may face and the strengths that he or she possesses. Learning disabilities and mental illness are common in many great minds. The more information you know about your child’s condition, the better you can help him or her succeed.
3. School Officials Should Know You by Name
Students of all demographics often struggle academically and socially. In addition, many children now spend more time in school than they do at home, (during the school year). Be involved in your child’s education. Ask them how their day was and follow-up with teachers, parents, and counselors if necessary. While you should teach your child to be assertive, don’t be afraid to intercept a situation if necessary, or ask for meetings with principals or parents. Joining the Parent and Teachers Association (PTA) can also help you stay aware of your child’s school environment.
4. Be Patient with Discipline
“What worked with my other kids just won’t work with this one” is a phrase many parents have said about their special needs children. Often, these children do not understand what they did wrong or why the discipline fits the behavior. Try to explain the reasoning of your choices and take disciplinary action as soon as the behavior occurs. Waiting may confuse the child who believes you are giving him consequences for what he’s doing presently. Patience is key to parenting different children, but especially in disciplining them.
5. Show the Love
Never underestimate the power of love and praise with any kid. Even adults want to be praised when we do something well. Don’t overlook the little things, whether she studied hard for a test or vacuumed her room, make sure your child knows that you appreciate her and love her for who she is.
Parenting is arguably the hardest job in the world and there is no curriculum to prepare you. Remember that it is a learning process, just like the rest of life. The bond between a child and caretaker is unique and an adventure. Enjoy the ride, keep your eyes open, and try not to scream too much.