There are 3 E’s that I believe affect every parent-child relationship. That said, we are focusing on the importance of these 3 E’s for you as a parent of a child with special needs.
They follow in a cycle for every challenge you and your child endure. The important thing is to remember you can reference these 3 E’s to help you push through any and all challenges that lie ahead.
So what are the 3 E’s?
Embrace, Empower & Encourage.
Let’s dive a bit deeper into each one.
The dictionary says to embrace is “to accept someone readily or gladly and hold them in your arms expressing love.” Your biggest challenge may be learning to embrace your child and their differences, but it is an important step to help them push forward in this challenge we call life. You have the strength to embrace all that your child is and all that they can become. Believe, hold on tight, and push through with acceptance. It may not be easy to begin here but you CAN do this. Connecting with other parents on a similar journey may help propel you forward. There is power in numbers and a support group online or in person will help you learn to embrace your child and your relationship with them.
The dictionary says to empower is “to give power to someone.” Give your child power to help them take baby steps toward success. This might look like giving your child a perceived sense of control over their little world. What does that mean? Let them think that they are in charge (when you really are). One of my best tips for this is to give them two choices at all times. Tip: Make sure you are happy with both options presented so whichever they choose still has them doing what you ultimately wanted them to do in the first place. For example, if you want them to eat a snack you might ask, “do you want yogurt or apple?” and they can point to or tell you which they want. You are okay with both options and they feel like they had control over their decision! When they have the power to choose, they are empowered and more willing to push through other challenges. Seeing your little one happier and empowered will empower you, too!
The dictionary says to encourage is “to make someone more determined, hopeful or confident.” Once we have embraced and empowered our child, it’s time to encourage them. We have accepted them, given them power, and now we are giving them their own
independent feelings of determination, hope and confidence. These are very important traits to instill in any child, but especially a child with special needs that has a bit more to conquer in their little world. So what can you do daily to help encourage your child? Celebrate their baby steps of success, cheer them on, be there to remind them that they are doing a great job and you love how they cleaned up, took a few bites of food and so on. You might celebrate baby steps toward a skill that you are working on or it may just be something random they do during their day that made you feel happy. Whatever it is, continue to encourage them and they will want to do more of it! In turn, this will encourage you to want to push forward, too!
These 3 E’s work in a cycle. The more you do of each one, the more you will want to do!
That said, you will have days where you want to throw it all out the window and hand your little sprout over to a babysitter. That’s totally normal. For those days that you can’t get a babysitter, print out this article and stick it on your refrigerator. When you start to feel lost, confused or like you just can’t do this anymore, read this again. It will help you get back on track and keep pushing forward with your little sprout. They need you and their success depends on you. It’s a big responsibility to bear but YOU CAN DO IT! I believe in YOU!
All the power to you super mom and dad! You got this!