- Lillian Brooks
Teaching Self-Care Techniques to Your Special Needs Child
Some special needs children may have some difficulty mastering certain self-care skills. Nonetheless, if you can teach your special needs child these techniques, this may help them become more confident, less anxious, and better equipped to deal with whatever the day may bring. Helping your child practice and master these skills may come with additional challenges.
However, setting your child up with their own self-care techniques is something that can empower them in numerous ways. It just may take a little extra time and effort.
The importance of community support.
Parents of special needs children can benefit from seeking support from other parents, professionals, and from programs that exist to help them as they work to give their children the best parenting possible. It will be easier to teach your child the self-care skills they need if you aren’t trying to do everything alone. It may be a truism that you have to care for yourself if you want to care for others – but, it’s a truism because it’s true, especially in this case, since parents of special n
eeds may be especially tired and prone to frustration. This can be especially true if you work from home; take some steps to lessen the stress by setting healthy boundaries and setting a routine with your child so they’re occupied while you’re in the office.
Some self-care techniques for stress relief and mental wellness.
Some kids may benefit from certain self-care rituals that can be calming, and induce a peaceful, positive mood. Sometimes something as simple as deep breathing exercises or simply taking a stroll around the block or at a neighborhood park may help. Dr. Nicole Beurkens notes that your child may also benefit from very simple, calming, meditation practices. Many children with special needs can find art and music to be therapeutic and calming, so if your child is drawn toward a particular art or music genre, help them make a habit of practicing or accessing it.
Life skills as self-care.
Don’t forget that a lot of what we think of as basic life skills are actually components of self-care. This includes physical hygiene, good eating habits, and keeping one’s home and personal areas clean and tidy. Helping your child achieve independence with simple tasks like dressing themselves properly or brushing their teeth can help them be more confident, alleviate stress, and set them up for a more promising future.
It can be especially important, when you have a child with special needs, to keep the space they live in clean and decluttered. Remember that keeping a clean and healthy home is about maintaining it as a positive and nurturing environment as well as making sure everything is tidy and dirt-free.
One way you can pass on helpful self-care methods to your child is to practice them yourself. This can include a range of
activities that promote a healthy lifestyle, such as drinking plenty of water (in place of sugary drinks), eating healthier snacks, and getting in some exercise on a regular basis.
Keep in mind, of course, that some kids with special needs may not learn through imitation in the way other children do, and sometimes may be less invested in ideas about fitting in or being like others. So, if modeling self-care doesn’t immediately pay off in terms of your child picking up a good habit, that’s okay. Just keep doing it for your own sake, but also help your child understand wh
at you are doing, and why, by using other teaching methods as well.
Some alternative methods for teaching self-care to special needs children.
Many kids with special needs may benefit from a careful and analytic breakdown of the tasks at hand, as well as a straightforward explanation of why you are doing them. For other kids, LessonPix points out that visuals can be especially useful. This can involve you showing them what to do step by step, but it could also involve using illustrations and pictorial guides. Or it may be helpful for you to situate the lesson in a story.
Depending on your child’s learning style, some of these approaches may be more or less useful. You know your child and probably have a good sense of what might be effective for teaching them, but you may also want to carefully try new teaching methods, also, if you feel they might work.
It may take significant patience and determination on the part of parents who may already be overwhelmed, but keep working with your child, and seek support systems when you can. Helping your child master self-care will allow them to be more confident and independent as they grow.
Two Hearts Therapy offers several different programs that can benefit children, including music therapy and play therapy. Contact us today to learn more.
Written by Lillian Brooks