The parents of children with developmental disabilities report feeling more pessimistic about the future than parents with neurotypical children. A key way to feel brighter about things to come is to encourage your disabled child to be as independent as possible. This will help build your child’s confidence and give you some valuable ‘me time’. Here’s some simple ways to do just that.
50% of disabled children don’t have any friends, according to The Globe & Mail. Sometimes the parents of a disabled child stop their child from making friends without meaning to. For example, you may not let them go to another child’s birthday party or play with other kids in the park because you worry about how other children will be. Friendship is a great way to help your child become independent, though. The best thing you can do is practise social skills at home with your child to help them understand how to interact with their peers. These skills will be valuable to your child throughout their entire life, so spend plenty of time working together on this.
Practice life skills with toys
Research has found that the majority of special needs parents feel they spend too much time caring for their child and not enough quality time with them. Having fun with toys is a great way to overcome this problem and you’ll nurture your child’s independence too. Basic skill boards help disabled children learn how to work buttons, zips, and to tie up laces. This will help them to dress themselves in the long run and may even give them the confidence to live alone as an adult. Exploring a range of therapeutic toys together can build confidence and independence as well. For example, musical instruments encourage creativity and develop sensorimotor skills. The beat will also make your child more comfortable at moving. You can have endless fun with building blocks and they’ll teach your child about patterns and spatial recognition.
Let your child take the lead
It’s common for parents of disabled children to take control of situations. As your child gets older it’s crucial that you let them take the lead. A good example is to offer choices, such as letting them choose between peas or carrots for dinner. This gives the child power, control, and confidence. In time, this will make them more independent and ready to face the challenges that come with adulthood. Another way to achieve this is to sit back and see what your child wants to do. Perhaps they’re keen to feed themselves but your default response is to spoon feed them. You need to adjust your mindset and focus on supporting your child rather than caring for your child. This way, they’ll be happy enough to look after themselves and make their own decisions as they mature.
It’s common for special needs parents to take on too much. It’s important you listen to and observe your child so you can see what he or she is capable of achieving. From there, you can support them and guide them to become more independent.