As a parent, you are in a position where you are constantly caring for others. It’s a rewarding yet challenging role. Parents of children with developmental needs play the roles of therapists and caregivers as well, ensuring that their children are healthy, safe and equipped with skills to succeed as adults.

With these tips, parents of children with developmental needs can better manage their marriage and parenting journeys.

1. Ensure that Home is a Safe Environment 

Home is a safe place for your child – physically and emotionally. Find out what are the things that pose a unique concern or danger to your child. For example, you may need to paint your walls with a light and neutral colour to create a comfortable environment. Keep these guidelines in mind when setting up the home for physical safety: 

  • Use carpets for cushioning against knocks and bruises

  • Ensure that children are not left alone in a place, e.g. kitchen which can be dangerous;

  • Ensure that bathtubs are drained properly to prevent drowning; 

  • Install auto shut-off switches;

  • Provide chairs with arms so children don’t fall off;

  • Use safety gates at staircase areas;

  • Install outward opening doors so epileptic kids will not be trapped inside (e.g. toilet.);

  • Use plastic utensils with grips for easier handling;

  • Keep the house uncluttered for easy accessibility.

2. Empower Yourself to Manage Your Emotions 

When you learn to deal with negative emotions such as anger and bitterness positively, it can prevent you from making rash moves that you may regret later. Don’t forget to take care of yourself.

For example, this could mean asking friends or family to prepare dinner for your family every once in a while. Whatever helps you manage your feelings and schedules better, or makes you feel taken care of, go for it! 

3. Seek and Accept Help Whenever Necessary 

There will be times when you feel frustrated, disheartened or even alone. But remember, you are never alone. Many times, parents find themselves in situations where they may not know what to do or where to turn to for help.

Accept that this is completely normal. It’s important to talk to your spouse or trusted friends in times like these. Don’t shy away from accepting relevant help from professional therapists or caregivers as well. 

4. Plan Your Financial Needs Early 

Your child may require time and special effort for rehabilitation, therapy and medication. Depending on your child’s developmental needs, this may result in extra expenses that can take a toll on your finances. Be sure to assess your finances early. Parents may also visit the following links to seek financial assistance:

1) Ministry of Social and Family Development
National Council of Social Service
Online Caregivers’ Resources
SG Enable

5. Promote Independence and Communication in Your Child

Nurture your child on problem-solving skills. As your child solves a problem, he or she is learning to be independent. With practice and lots of patience, set achievable goals for your child to try to take up more tasks and new challenges.

This will teach your child to take up responsibility and boost his or her self-confidence. Be mindful of the goals that you set. You will need a prior understanding of the extent of your child’s ability.

6. Look Out for Triggers and Identify Coping Strategies 

By measuring the frequency and source of misbehaviours, parents can have a better understanding of misbehaviours and improvise ways to cope with them.

For instance, you can create a simple log to note the day and frequency when your child is misbehaving. This can be used to create a baseline, where you will be able to monitor future progress. Indicate the triggers as it happens. It will paint a clearer picture of the methods to overcome their struggles. Some methods can include deep breathing, positive self-talk and relaxation exercises. 

A strong parent-child relationship needs time and commitment to foster. Be patient and always be there for your child. No matter how tough the challenges will be, don’t forget to have a positive outlook. It’s your unconditional love that will do wonders for what your child can achieve.