Parenting a Disabled Child: 6 Tips Every Parent Should Know

Being a parent is hard work. Being a parent of a child with a disability can be especially challenging. Even if you don’t have a job other than being the primary caregiver for your child, that alone is often a 25 hour a day eight day a week type of job. There is just never enough time. Here are a few tips to keep in mind to help make life just a little bit easier:

  • Ask for help
  • Don’t neglect yourself
  • Choose your battles
  • Empathize
  • Watch out for bullying
  • Don’t forget about others

Ask for Help

Many parents of children with special needs feel uncomfortable asking for help for one reason or another. They may feel like their skills as a parent aren’t strong enough if they have to ask for help. They might think that nobody else is up to the challenge of helping with a disabled child. Whatever the reason, a parent of a disabled child should never feel like they can’t ask for help.

Friends and family know that you are facing a difficult situation, and most of the time, they would like to help. However, they are not sure exactly what they should do or how to go about offering help. Ask for specific assistance, and you will often find they are more than willing to pitch in.

Beyond your pool of friends and family, there are several programs out there available for disabled children and their families to help them get along. Enroll in as many assistance programs as you can early on. Even if you end up deciding that the program is not right for you, it is much easier to opt-out later on than it is to opt-in.

Don’t Neglect Yourself

Parents of children with disabilities often put everything into their child’s well-being and don’t pay any attention to their own needs. This is a terrible move that is likely to lead to the parent burning out. We all need to focus on ourselves from time to time in order to keep our sanity. Parents who don’t make room for themselves in their life may even grow to resent their child, which is the last thing they want.

Whether it is through help from friends and family, special programs, or simply sitting your kid in front of the television for an hour, find a way to get some time to treat yourself.

Choose Your Battles

Deciding when to push back with your kids and when to let them simply do their thing is a challenge that all parents face. This challenge is often amplified when your child has special needs. You can’t win every battle. Make sure to focus on the most important ones, such as the ones that affect their health and safety.

Empathize

Empathy is a tool that you will need to put into practice often. Children with disabilities often have the same needs as anyone else, just on a grander scale. Think about the rituals of routine that you may need in your life, to understand the much deeper need for routine in the life of your child.

Watch Out for Bullying

Children with disabilities are often targets for bullying, as they are more susceptible, for a variety of reasons. Make sure to keep an eye out for signs that your child is being bullied. Remember, at the same time, though, while they are more susceptible, just because your child has special needs doesn’t mean they are necessarily being bullied.

Don’t Forget About Others

The same as parents can get lost in the lives of their disabled child and forget to take care of themselves; they can forget about others. Friends, family, partners, and other non-disabled friends can get neglected. While it can be difficult to fit everyone in, make sure that everyone at least knows that you value them and that you try to get time with them when you can.

In the case of siblings of your disabled child, it is especially important to make sure they don’t miss out on parental love because all of your time is focused on your child who needs more attention. Find ways to be inclusive.

Identifying a Child With a Disability

For parents who are worried that their child may have a disability, it is important to get them examined early. Seizures and developmental delays need to be immediately addressed before they cause further complications. Delays can make things much more difficult for your child down the line.

The most important thing to remember for a parent of a disabled child is that you are not in this alone. There are always resources available to make raising a child with special needs more manageable and make the best life for both of you.

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