The biggest problem in raising a child with special needs is not always the disability on its own, but the need we parents feel to compensate for it by making our children’s lives easier.
Your child may have a disability, but by no means is your child disabled. This means, even if your child lives with a condition that makes his challenges more obvious, he has plenty of abilities. These abilities will need to be reinforced to enable your child to gain independence to the maximum extent of his or her personal abilities.
The Art of Enabling
To enable means to provide opportunities setting aside the special needs label. Here are some easy tips that can help you keep your expectations in the right place: as high as possible.
- Let them try. You will never know what she or he can accomplish if you don’t ever let them try. Don’t assume your child can’t do something and run to the rescue without even knowing if she or he even needs to be rescued. Instead, step back and let him or her try, over and over again, because with practice comes ability.
- Life is all about trial and error. Your child is going to make mistakes like everyone else before he or she is really ready to master an activity. A mistake is not an excuse to deprive him or her of more opportunities. Avoid the typical excuse of not wanting to hurt his or her feelings, because we all need to make mistakes in order to learn.
- Give him or her the chance to teach you something new (or something you already know!). Control yourself when it comes to correcting the steps they’re teaching you. There are plenty of ways to achieve the same objective! Believe in your child and, with love and acceptance, promote his initiative and unique abilities.
- Don’t succumb to the temptation of doing everything for him. Yes, it’s easier to feed him, to hold him to avoid meltdowns, or to give him everything he or she wants excused by the disability; however, every time you choose to do the easiest thing for yourself, you are teaching him or her to do the same.
- Give him responsibilities according to his abilities. Everyone is good for something, and we all feel empowered by having responsibilities. Be creative and let him or her get serious about this task that no one else can do better.
- Challenge him to do more. I know, this is hard! You don’t want to stress him out; however, if you don’t challenge him to give more, to learn more and to do more, you are limiting him.
- Don’t let anyone lower your expectations of your child because your expectations define his future. Over and over again you’ll face negative reactions from people who, based on their professional careers or personal analysis, feel the need to set limits for your child. Ignore them!! Because you can’t hurt your child by believing in him, but be sure you can limit him by not listening to your heart as a parent.