Parenting Tips for Special Needs Children: Dealing with the Stress

By Cina Coren

Have you ever wondered how you make it through the day in one piece? Twenty-four hours in a day is never enough time to finish everything we plan to do while offering us far too much time for worrying and stressing. Which is what most of us do, day in and day out. We all have our challenges, and despite telling ourselves over and over again that others have it worse than we do and that somehow or other we will deal with these challenges, it doesn’t take more than a few minutes to arrive back at square one: our trials are great so how are we going to stop stressing over them?

Everyone focuses today on work related stress—how a job is a constant nerve-wracking experience or how juggling a job and a home is a never ending trauma. But an even greater challenge is a personal one and demands total discipline and resolve to cope with—i.e. bringing up a child with special needs.

special needs child and mom

Questions Abound

Even the smallest imperfection takes on major proportions when dealing with special needs children. Questions of procedure constantly bombard our mind—should we devote more time to this child at the expense of the other children in the household? Should this child be put in an environment with other youngsters with similar problems or should he be integrated into a regular system so he learns how to deal with the situation? What if his problem is border line? Will he be mentally confronted sufficiently in a totally defined circumstance?

The parents of a special needs child worry continuously that they are not meeting the needs of their child. Too much attention or too little? Make demands or pull back? Be strict or lenient? Allow a certain amount of aggressive behavior or let him direct his frustrations in a more suppressed manner?

When a special needs child is first diagnosed, most parents experience shock and a host of other emotions. Anger that this should happen to them; fear that they won’t be able to handle the social reaction attached to their child’s different status; the added financial expenses that they are likely to incur. Stress and concern dominate the scene and fear and anxiety are the immediate reactions. Only when they have calmed down somewhat, will they turn their focus on the child and how he/she will go through life dealing his/her difficulty.

Love and Care

In years gone by, these special children were placed in special institutions and hidden away from the public. Fortunately, society today is more caring and concern for both the child and the family are dominant issues. Government and private services are now available and once the family realizes that this is a mutual problem between them and the child, and that the challenge is not going away but must be met head-on, only then will they turn to the right channels for advice and assistance. Knowing that there are professionals in the field who are there to provide help and support and can take some of the burden off their shoulders is a major stress reduction in the lives of all those affected by this situation.

Times have certainly changed and today’s approach in the home and outside is to shower these special children with love and affection. Physical contact is essential and warmth and tenderness must overflow. Direct communication is a key component to bringing up these children.

We all know families who are confronted with the difficulties involved with raising these wonderful kids and we empathize with their hardships and efforts. And while deep down we are thankful that we are not the ones going through this ordeal, we can ease their plight day by day by offering them just the right amount of comfort and understanding they need. Reducing one’s stress takes both physical and mental discipline and hard work is needed to make it a success.

Cina Coren is a contributing editor to Daily Forex and a freelance writer for several financial and educational publications.

Do you have any additional parenting tips for special needs children?