Raising children in general is mentally and physically taxing but it is also one of the most rewarding experiences one can have.
The first thing new parents check when their child is born is for a healthy heart beat, strong lungs, along with ten fingers and ten toes. The life long journey for both you, your partner, and your child begins.
So, what if your child has Down Syndrome? Are all of your expectations for being a parent and a teacher going to change? Some people already feel underqualified for taking on the role of Mom or Dad, but now they have to completely shift their gears because their child has special needs. What does one do? Where do you even begin? We have spoken with parents, children, and counselors all around the states asking for the best possible tips when raising a child with Down Syndrome and we want to share them with you.
Educate yourself and your family members on Down Syndrome. First lesson, not everyone with Down Syndrome is exactly the same. Nor is any person exactly the same without Down Syndrome. Learn to celebrate your differences and similarities together.
Treat him or her the same as you do your other children who aren’t diagnosed with Down Syndrome. Not only does this prove beneficial for your child with the disease, but also it teaches your other children to be tolerant of others with differences and keep an equal mindset with their peers.
3. GOAL SETTING
Set goals for your child to reach, it is important that they learn to push themselves as well as experience the feeling of goal accomplishment and personal growth.
Be flexible with those goals. If a child with Down Syndrome cannot reach a goal, try altering the goal in ways which is more obtainable for them rather than discarding the idea altogether.
Encourage your child to be independent. Have them pick out their own clothing, dress themselves, and perform basic daily hygiene practices. As they get more used to the routine, add more responsibility to their list like helping with the dishes or feeding the family cat every morning.
Offer your help when necessary but remember failing can play an important role when learning. Teach your child to have patience and faith in themselves. Feedback in these times should be supportive. Instead of saying “no, that’s wrong” try asking them to try again and aid them through corrective yet positive feedback.
Take your child to social events to keep a comfort around other people and improve their social skills. This is a very important skill to constantly be improving. Your child may some day have the opportunity to hold a part time or full time job where basic personal skills are a plus.
The only thing you can be certain of when raising a child is to be surprised. You will be exposed to situations that may make you uncomfortable and push your limits. You may be blessed with experiences that enlighten and enrich your lives. Any time you are raising a child, with or without a disability, challenges come. Just remember to act with your heart and your mind rather than reacting with impatience and frustration.
Photo by: Annika Leigh