7 Ways to Be a Positive Parent for Your Child with Special Needs

Connie Combs offers her expertise to help ensure a bright future for families

Parenting is hard, but parenting a child with special needs can be downright daunting. Too often, parents feel isolated and scared when their child receives a diagnosis. However, with the help of caring professionals, such as local expert Connie Combs, there is hope.

As Program Coordinator of Creating Brighter Futures, an Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) center-based autism treatment center, and a proponent of positive parenting, Combs shares the following ways to ensure you and your family not only cope, but thrive, with a diagnosis.

1. Build your rapport and relationship first.

It’s so important to meet children where they are. We can’t connect with them if we are always imposing demands. Instead, we should remember to enjoy time with our children and lean into their unique interests.

2. Be consistent.

Being consistent is the most effective way to create a predictable and stable environment for your child. It’s important to state your expectations clearly, give appropriate processing time, and then follow through. Try and avoid repeating your request over and over and remember the 1:1 ratio: one request, then action.

3. Be flexible.

While consistency is key, you also have to remember you’re not always going to get your way. If something simply isn’t working, don’t do it. Just as we ask our children to be flexible, we need to be flexible too.

4. Have a working relationship with your child’s school.

Remember that teachers are really on your side. You can’t just make demands. Instead, build relationships with the staff. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or to offer it. Act as a team to support your child.

5. Make time for your other children.

If you have other children, you know the guilt that comes with not devoting an equal amount of attention. To help, carve out some one-on-one time, even if it’s only 15-20 minutes a week. Start a tradition. Maybe every Monday, go out for ice cream, just the two of you. These moments can be very powerful and precious.

6. Be on the same page as your partner.

If you have a partner in parenting, it’s important to check-in with each other. If you don’t have the same goals in mind, you’re going to struggle moving forward. Consider seeing a marriage or family therapist, even if it’s only once a month. It’s a chance to check-in and ask, “Are we okay?”

7. Be mindful of the day.

When we have special needs kids, we tend to get in the habit of predicting to avoid issues. We pre-worry so much that we often forget to enjoy the day and cherish our children in the moment. Remember too that if the day is not going well, tomorrow is a time to start again, refreshed. Show yourself some grace.

Parenting a child with special needs requires special parenting. Try not to become discouraged if you don’t immediately see results. As Combs reminds us, “Parenting rewards often come much later. Do not despair! Your hard work will pay off.”

For information about how to enroll your child in Creating Brighter Horizons, visit the website creatingbrighterfutures.com or call 734-926-0740.

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