The Dragonfly Forest

They have been given names such as devil’s darning needle, ear sewer, horse stinger, skeeter hawk, and the snake’s servant. Actually, Dragonflies are beneficial, peaceful, and stunning. You are a Dragonfly if you are: ADD/ADHD, dyslexic, dysgraphic, Asperger’s, NLVD, autistic…

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

5 Ways a parent of children with special needs can reduce the pressure

This post is targeted to parents!  

As parents we have a lot of weight and responsibilities on our shoulders!   We have to work so we can afford to live and raise a family (job duties & responsibilities).  We run a household ~ shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry, maintenance, organizing, and juggling the finances.    We raise children to become positive and productive citizens, as well as, spend quality supportive time with each of them.  Unless we homeschool our children we are sending them off to school to obtain an education.  Yes, we are there to help with homework but for the most part we as parents expect the teachers will be providing our children with a solid educational foundation.

This doesn't always happen however when your child has a learning disability.   We now have even more responsibilities that add extra stress to our lives.  As parents we have to spend countless hours researching evidence-based programs so our children can learn; we become experts on our child’s disability; emailing teachers and special education coordinators to make sure our children are learning; spend extra money and time on private tutoring and therapies; devote extensive time re-teaching the class material and subjects that were not learned in school; providing emotional support since our children know they are different; and limitless other responsibilities.   
Normal life causes us as parents to break but there’s even more weight when you are a parent who has children with learning disabilities.

I love this video as an example of what our children expect from us and how as a parent we sometimes just can’t handle the pressure. 

So, what can you do?  Here are 5 things you can do to reduce this pressure.

1.  Take care of yourself first!  Yep that is right, I said it – you must take care of YOU.  Just like in airplanes you need to put on your oxygen mask prior to taking care of your child’s-- the same goes for here.  If you are not able to breath, you will fall apart and what good is an unconscious parent, especially for a child with a disability?  Plus, if you don’t take care of you then who will?

2.  Have a support system!  This support system needs to be made up of others that have similar lives, children, and experiences.  It feels terrible to have to listen to parents go on and on about their “perfect” children when we just spent 3 hours battling with our child about homework, chores, eating, and so on.  When overwhelmed call someone from your support system and complete the next step.

3.  Put a time limit on your venting and make a written list of the positives.  The more we vent the more we feed negative feelings and emotions so tell your support person you are only going to vent for 10-20 minutes and then that’s it, no more.  Once the time is over you can only talk about solutions not problems.  After you have vented you need to reframe life back into positives.  Write a list of positive things in your life.

4.  Keep your list of positives with you so you can look at them when you are feeling depressed or anxious.  Remember what we focus on expands so focus on the positive things we have in our lives whatever they may be.

5.  Find ways to mentally escape!  As parents of children with learning disabilities we take on a lot of extra responsibilities and need time to mentally escape so we can relax.  Make a list of ways that you like to mentally escape: Songs that make you feel good and/or pump you up; books that have nothing to do with parenting and disabilities (eye-read and/or ear-read); TV shows or movies; exercise activities such as walking in the woods, aerobics classes, biking…; or other activity that reduces your stress level.

Remember that you don’t want to be like Frankie from the TV show “The Middle” shown here in this video where you snap.  If you can take care of yourself then you can reduce the chances that this will happen to you.  

Finally, know that you are doing a great job!  You have the hardest job in the world and just by showing up everyday fighting the fight you are a great parent!  Kudos to you!!!