How to Successfully Raise Children with Special Needs: 10 Expert Tips You Need to Know

child with special needs giving thumbs up

Are you struggling with the challenges of raising a child with special needs? Millions of Americans are in your shoes and can relate.

Your love for your child is unconditional; you are a good parent. But, sometimes we all need a little help.

There are tons of tools and resources that can help make your life easier. If you're not sure where to start, you're in the right place. Keep reading for 10 of the best tips for parenting children with special needs.

1. Be Gentle with Yourself

Parents of children without special needs work hard. You're likely working twice as hard as them with a child who has special needs.

Before you lecture yourself for making a mistake or forgetting an appointment, stop. You may be a superhero to your kids, but you don't have special powers. You're human, and we all make mistakes.

Learn to be gentle with your self-talk. You can only do the best you can, and that's okay. Forgiving yourself sets an example of self-forgiveness for your children.

2. Find Support

There are tons of communities of other parents that you can find support in. Many of them are for parents of children with special needs.

Sometimes all you need is to vent to a friend who understands. Your tribe is out there, you just have to find them.

Start with searching online. Facebook has groups and communities based on all different lifestyles and topics. Plus, they can help you connect with supports in your city.

If your local community centers don't have any support groups, consider starting one. There are tons of other parents just like you looking for support.

3. Make Therapy Fun

Most kids with special needs have to go to some sort of therapy. If they don't enjoy it, they might be reluctant and resistant to going.

The trick is making therapy fun. Experienced therapists understand this and will make sessions enjoyable. This could mean incorporating a game into the therapy or a challenge.

You can do the same from home. If there's an exercise your kiddo needs to work on, turn it into a game. It'll become something they look forward to.

4. Celebrate Often

We all fall down the hole of negativity sometimes. It's often easier to see what went wrong instead of what went right.

It's crucial you celebrate the small wins. Even if your kiddo threw a tantrum and got sent home from school. What is one thing they did today that was awesome?

Children respond to their parents' attitudes. Your negativity can affect their outlook on life. The best thing you can do is show them the positive side of every downfall.

5. Stop Comparing

It's hard not to compare yourself and your life to other parents. Parents of kids with and without special needs may seem like they're luckier than you.

This type of thinking will affect your parenting. Kids can sense the comparison you see between them and their friends. It can discourage them from trying their best.

Instead, accept that every family has struggles. There are many different parenting styles.

And, children are all different; some walk right away, others take years. Focus on your own journey and ignore the other lanes.

6. Prepare Financially

Therapy and treatment for your child's special needs aren't cheap. They add up fast. Without financial preparation, like FamilyVest, you can find yourself in debt or worse.

Look for into government programs and specific accounts for families with a disabled member.

Government programs include supplementary security income (SSI), special needs trusts, and Medicaid. ABLE accounts are for families to set aside money for their child with special needs.

7. Focus on Siblings

The siblings of your child with special needs go through a variety of emotions growing up. They may feel jealous that their siblings get more attention. They may feel resentment towards them.

It's crucial that you spend individualized time with all your children. Discuss how they feel about their sibling. Explain their role in the family in a way they can understand.

When having family time, reward caring behavior from all children. It's important for them to learn to support each other.

8. Ignorance is Everywhere

As a parent of a child with special needs, you'll learn quite fast how much ignorance is in the world. People will stare at your child and ask rude questions. They'll pass judgments on you as a parent.

It is not your responsibility to educate these people. But, being able to explain your child's illness in a constructive way can help halt the ignorance.

You are an advocate for your child. In some cases, they can't stand up for themselves. You must be able to confront ignorance in a respectful and educational way.

9. Learn Always

Since you're an advocate, it's important to know as much as you can about your child's needs. Learn everything you can about their disease or illness. Stay up to date with new studies and tests.

The more you know, the more you understand the doctor's recommendations for your child. You don't have to always go with what they say. When you're knowledgeable, you can make informed decisions on behalf of your kiddo.

10. Parenting Isn't the Same as Caregiving

It can be easy to get stuck in a caregiver role. After all, you do a lot of the caregiving tasks for your child with special needs.

But, caregiving doesn't replace parenting.

Make sure you still discipline your child with special needs. They still need to learn gratitude and respect. These are things a parent teaches, not a caregiver.

Want to Learn More About Parenting Children with Special Needs?

The life of a parent isn't always fun. Especially for parents of children with special needs. You have to support your family, support yourself, and ignore judgment from the outside world.

Take advantage of all the tools and resources you can find. Any amount of help is worth it. Start by following the tips listed above.

For more information on how to be a good parent and raise a family, check out the family and relationships blog.


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