Being a parent to any child is filled with challenges, but raising a child with physical disabilities presents another level of challenges.
You want nothing more than for your child to lead a normal life, be happy, fit in, and be proud of who they are as individuals, however, you realize it may not be as easy.
Though your child will develop a sense of self and confidence around the same time as any other child, it’s not uncommon for a child with disabilities to have lower self-esteem as a result of their challenges.
Finding out that your child has a physical or learning disability is beyond emotional. Though you love your child with all your heart, essentially you go through a mourning process.
You’re grieving the loss of the healthy child you always prayed and imagined you would have. As you get help for yourself to get past this feeling, it is especially important that you show your child that you accept them just as they are.
Showing acceptance means expressing your love for them, having realistic goals, and never comparing them to other children. In doing this you help your child to accept and love themselves despite their challenges.
Once you learn that your child has a disability it is important to educate yourself on their condition, the challenges ahead, and solutions to resolving each.
Though you may not be able to do anything to change your child’s condition, the more you know can make it easier for you to provide them with a comfortable environment to grow up in.
Whether this means giving them a bedroom on the first floor to make getting around easier, installing grab bars and railings throughout the house to reduce their risk of falling or buying AFO brace socks to ease the comfort from their leg brace, these things will reduce their agitation with their condition and help them to feel more confident.
Spend Quality Time with Them
It is extremely important for your child’s esteem that they feel loved and equally appreciated by their parents as they learn to love and accept themselves. Having family time is great, but nothing beats that one-on-one time between parent and child. Try to find time in your schedule to check in on your child through quality time. Do something that interests them and just enjoy your time together. Use this time not only to talk about what’s going on in their lives but to let them know you’re always there to support them. Have fun, laugh, play, and just be in the moment with your child so they always remember they’re special to you.
Hone in On Their Talents
Being disabled doesn’t mean your child can’t do anything. There are likely some hidden talents in your child that are just dying to get out. To boost your child’s confidence, it is ideal to find out what they’re good at. Whether it’s playing a musical instrument, painting, drawing, reading, or math, tap into that as much as you can. The more exposed your child is to things that they’re good at the better they feel about themselves. Especially when mom and dad are cheering them on.
Allow them to Connect With Other Children
Keeping your child isolated from others can hinder their self-esteem. It is important for your children to interact with others so they can learn to identify themselves and their uniqueness in the world. Try to expose them to positive environments with other children. As they socialize and build relationships with healthy and similarly disabled children and healthy it boosts their mood and helps them to develop positive socialization skills they’ll need to navigate throughout life.
Naturally, children with disabilities see themselves differently and become frustrated by their physical or mental limitations. As a parent, you don’t want your child’s disabilities to hinder them from seeing what a great person they are. Though the road won’t be easy for you or your child you can help them feel more positively about themselves by using the tips mentioned above.