Every stage of childhood has its joys — and its challenges. That precious baby may cause you sleepless nights and dark circles, but those warm snuggles and the sweet smell of the top of their head make it worth it. Toddlers are notorious for tantrums, but they also help us see the beauty of the world through fresh eyes. And teens? Well, what a gift to see them exert their independence — and what a nightmare.
Parenting in general comes with blessings and challenges, but that is especially true for parents of children with special needs. The key to amplifying the good, minimizing the struggles and saving your sanity is tapping into some tried-and-true tips.
The Kaufman Children’s Center in West Bloomfield is one of the country’s premier pediatric special-needs centers. Its founder, Nancy Kaufman, and her expert team of speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists and ABA therapists have helped families in Michigan, throughout the country and even abroad find the tools and techniques to help their children with special needs live their best lives. Their decades of experience have helped them to identify the following simple but important tips that could benefit all special needs families.
1. Make sure your child gets plenty of sleep
Sleep is important to EVERYONE – young and old, whether you have special needs or not. But it’s particularly important for children with special needs. A lot of parental challenges, like behavioral issues or resistance to therapy, stem from your child being over-tired. Unfortunately, kids with special needs sometimes struggle more with sleep difficulties. It’s important not to surrender to sleepless nights — for you and your child — and find a sleep solution to benefit the whole family. If your child is struggling to sleep better, the Kaufman experts have some sleep advice to help.
2. Broaden your horizons
Kids with special needs can be very routine-oriented and change can cause some challenges. As a result, sometimes parents avoid anything new — and that includes traveling with their kids. It’s nice to go on a trip and see the world beyond your neighborhood, so many parents of special needs children can feel like their life is limited and repetitive. The same routine in the same place day after day. Break free of the monotony. These tips from the Kaufman experts can help you make the dream of a family vacation a reality.
3. Help them make connections with others
Kids with special needs can struggle to make connections with others. For a child with autism, for instance, the issue can be their difficulty in maintaining eye contact and picking up on non-verbal social cues. Sometimes parents get in the way of their child connecting with other kids out of fear that they’ll be bullied or hurt. It’s all understandable, but it can also be avoidable. Helping your child improve their social skills, so they can make friendships, enhances their life and brings them joy, which can reduce stress and social pressure within the family. Get some Kaufman expert tips on helping your child make friends.
4. Don’t force your kids, motivate them
One of the biggest parenting challenges is getting kids to cooperate with tasks you need them to do for their own good. That’s doubly true for parents of children with special needs. You want them to participate in speech therapy or practice life skills at home and they don’t want to. What do you do? Yelling or trying to force them makes life miserable and stressful for everyone. Instead, some expert tips from Kaufman can help you pivot to a more persuasive approach.
5. Get help from professionals.
The biggest sanity-saving tip for parents of children with special needs is simple – you don’t have to do this alone. Whether it’s getting therapy from experts like those at Kaufman Children’s Center or connecting to friends, family and support groups, don’t hesitate to expand your network to find the help and support your family not only needs but deserves.
Learn more about Kaufman Children’s Center. Visit kidspeech.com.