Avoiding Parent Burnout

Parenting is difficult but parenting a child with special needs can be even more challenging.  If you are a parent of a child with special needs, you are almost certainly putting in more effort than any other mom or dad that you know.  And yet your child still may be at risk, struggling, or making less progress than his or her peers.  With all of this going on, how do you keep going without becoming exhausted?

Avoiding burnout requires a lot of effort!  It requires self-care, establishing a strong support network for yourself, and building a great therapeutic team for your child.  It also requires that you tap into one of the most powerful motivators on earth:  your love for your child.  So, let’s take a quick look at a few of ideas on how to avoid burnout.

  1. Make a list of your child’s strengths, even if they haven’t been visible lately.  Find ways to talk about them to your spouse, your friends or even your child.  Brag about your child!  All parents do it, and  so should you!
  2. Remembering fun experiences that you have had with your child can also help you avoid becoming burned out. Telling a humorous family story, or recalling a time you did something silly can help everyone feel more connected and at ease. Silly baby stories, school antics or memories of times when you embarrassed yourself are great ways to get started laughing.  Good times do happen!  And the more you recall them, the more you’ll realize that there are plenty of good times to hang on to, which in return will help you weather the more difficult periods of your life.
  3. Another idea to help you avoid burnout is to attempt to  frame your frustration as a puzzle to be solved. Be curious!  It’s helpful to remind yourself that not knowing how to make things better doesn’t mean you’re inadequate.  It just means you haven’t’ figured everything out yet.  Read up on your child’s diagnosis and be frank with their therapist. Let the therapist know that you don’t know how to handle your child’s behaviors or outbursts.  Learn and be curious!  Looking at all of the ups and downs of your special needs child’s life as a learning curve for yourself, can alleviate a great deal of insecurity and will make it easier for you to connect with the love you have for your child.

This Saturday is Christmas day, so I want to take quick moment to wish you and your families a Very Merry Christmas.  I hope some of the advice I have given you this month will help you make it through this holiday season and will help make it just a little bit easier on you and your child.  My hope for you is that this Christmas season isn’t something that you’ve had to “endure or “get through”, but something that you truly enjoyed with your child and your family.  Merry Christmas!!

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Jason Spear Miller
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