How To Cope With Stress as a Parent of an Autistic Child
Raising a child with a learning disability can be an emotional and overwhelming experience, as the demands of parenting a child with special needs goes beyond common parenting challenges. Although the primary focus of programming at Transitions is focused on helping the child, we recognize parents need help too. Thus, learning stress management tips for parents of children with learning disabilities is hugely important. Knowing ways to effectively manage the inherent stress of parenting a learning-disabled child can help promote resilience, prevent emotional overwhelm and parental burnout, and increase positive parent-child interactions.
Common experiences and challenges of parenting a child with learning disabilities
- Anger-anger is a common reaction in parents of children with learning disabilities. Many parents feel angry about the additional financial stress and/or familial strain having a learning disabled child can cause. Or, in some cases, anger results from the fear parents feel about raising a child with a learning disability, or their inability to “fix” the child’s problem.
- Blaming others-some parents of children with learning disabilities attempt to cope by putting the blame on other people (i.e. – the child isn’t learning because the teacher is not doing his or her job). While natural, staying stuck in blaming others can prevent parents from focusing on solutions.
- Worry – parents of children with learning disabilities tend to experience a wide range of worries when it comes to their child. Some of the common worries surround things such as: the child’s social and educational development, the child’s self-esteem and confidence, the child’s ability to successfully achieve life milestones, etc.
Stress management tips for parenting a child with learning disabilities
Stress management is an important skill for any parent, but especially vital for parents of learning disabled children. Studies indicate parents of learning disabled children are at an increased risk of developing depressive symptoms. Depression not only affects the parent, but also the well being of the child.
- Assess your stress-be aware of what a “normal” or baseline stress level feels like for you, and notice when it starts to raise. Practice quick stress management strategies when your stress levels begin to elevate.
- Develop a strong support system-having friends and family to rely on can be hugely helpful in coping with the emotional challenges that arise for parents of children with learning disabilities. Joining a support group or a parenting class can also be a great way to develop a support system.
- Reframe negativity – catching negative thoughts (often the “what-if’s” or “worst-case scenario” thoughts) and challenging those thoughts can help parents decrease worrying and stay present with their child.
- Practice a healthy lifestyle-make sure your daily routine incorporates a healthy diet, and adequate sleep and exercise. Diet, exercise, and sleep are some of the most important components to one’s ability to manage stress.
Developing stress management tips for parents of children with learning disabilities can have a huge impact on not only the parent, but also the child, and family unit as a whole.
Find out more about our Transitions programs at (518) 775-5384.