Help Your Children with Special Needs Thrive Throughout Their Lives

Re-issued from Congress Park News, Summer Edition, Page 14

By Jackie Waters

Parents of children with special needs strive to ensure their needs are met far into the future. You document your children’s medical history, advocate for them, secure caregivers, meet with educators and doctors, and draft wills, trusts and guardianship with lawyers and financial planners. In addition to planning for the future, you also need to use the time that you have now to teach your child skills that will help him be as independent as possible so that he can thrive throughout his lifetime.

Let Your Child Try and Fail

It is easy to fall into the trap of being too overprotective or too helpful if you have a child with special needs. Teaching him that it is okay to try and fail until he learns how to do things himself, within his abilities and realistic expectations, is critical to giving him a foundation to thrive his whole life. It is difficult to stand back while a child struggles, but it is valuable to let him learn to fail and recover. He will become more tenacious and independent in the long run.

Teach Your Child to Break Tasks into Smaller Chunks

Sometimes, kids with special needs quit before they even begin, overwhelmed by the size of a task before them. Help your child identify the series of smaller bits that make up the entire task and understand that each completed piece puts him one step closer to finishing the job. These smaller chunks will be much more manageable for your child and help him maintain both a positive attitude about his abilities and the motivation he needs to complete the whole task. Strategies that help your children become independent are some of the best things you can teach them to help them thrive throughout their lives. Show them that it is okay to try and fail until they can accomplish a task and help them approach larger tasks by breaking them into smaller chunks. Baking or similar projects can be good learning opportunities. The larger job can be broken down into manageable chunks, and if some flour gets on the counter and a few eggshells get in the mix, it can be easily fixed. But the satisfaction your child will have at saying, “I baked those cookies,” will make it all worth it.

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