Q: [Parents] My child has a disability, and I want to make sure I set them up for success. How can I be supportive and help with overcoming adversity?
A: Every parent hopes that their child grows up to be happy, healthy and successful. Parents of children with special needs may worry that their child’s path toward these goals will be obstructed by difficulties associated with having a disability or special needs. While all parents encounter challenges navigating through parenthood, the challenges faced by children with special needs and their parents are especially unique. With guidance, encouragement and support, the possibilities of what your child can do and overcome (with you by their side) are endless!
Challenge Creates Growth
To some, “special needs” indicates limited potential. As a parent of a child with special needs, you can challenge this idea by serving as your child’s advocate and coach. Help others and your child to realize that all children, regardless of their ability, have limitless potential. Think of ways you can challenge your child to grow and learn. Seek opportunities to teach them a new skill or further develop a current skill. Foster their curiosity by introducing them to new places, activities and experiences.
The Power of Positivity
Growing up in the face of adversity is no easy task. Your child will need your love, encouragement and support to successfully tackle the obstacles presented to them. The unconditional love they receive from you will give them a feeling of security and comfort while your gentle support will allow them to feel confident in facing these challenges head on. Take advantage of opportunities to provide your child with positive encouragement to help build their confidence and create a parent-child relationship built on trust and love. Thank them when they are helpful. “Thank you for helping mom with the dishes!”
Ria Tirona is the program director of the YMCA of Orange County’s Y Inclusion program, which provides 1:1 support to facilitate the inclusion of children with special needs ages 3 to 17 who are enrolled in a preschool, child care or community program setting throughout Orange County.