All kids are special, and most kids need specialized help whether that’s glasses or speech therapy. But what do you do when you notice your child needs a bit more assistance, additional practice to master a skill, or just cannot do what’s expected?
As an early childhood educator, I encourage parents to pay attention. Listen to that inkling that something is not quite as it should be with a child’s behavior or learning ability. Trusting instincts and searching for answers is a good way to either put your mind to rest or get your child the necessary assistance to be successful. Here are some other tips to help you help your child.
1. You know your child better than anyone. Be a watchful “student” of your children. Watch for discrepancies, differences, and delays.
2. Listen to your child. Does your daughter complain about not being as good at reading as her classmates? Does your son mention being distracted in school? Listen for clues as to how your child feels about school performance. Kids may not know what’s wrong, but they sometimes realize something is interfering with academic performance.
3. Investigate if you think there may be a developmental issue. Good starting points are your child’s pediatrician and classroom teacher. Ask questions. Share concerns. Give concrete examples of what you’re observing at home. The more information the doctor and teacher receive from you the better the learning disability, behavioral concern, or developmental delay can be diagnosed and addressed.
4. You are your child’s first and best advocate. Be firm about wanting to get answers and advocate for your child in school and in extracurricular activities. But be polite. You’ll get further faster with kindness and respect when addressing school officials and others.
5. Early intervention is key. Finding coping strategies, learning tactics, medication, and learning plans as soon as issues arise can help the child navigate more easily. Be prepared to try new ideas and methods to help your child do well.
6. Don’t get hung up on labels. They don’t matter in the long run. It’s far better to get your child the help he needs than worry about a label. As your child matures, educators will be better able to meet the needs of the child if all the information is available.
7. Get support for yourself, spouse, and child. Two organizations I highly recommend are Rising Above Ministries and Snappin’ Ministries (Special Needs Parent Network). Connect with 1Corinthians13Parenting.com for more articles and ideas for families of special needs children.
8. Trust God. It’s most often through the difficulties we learn. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” Romans 8:28. Rely on God to make the most out of tough circumstances.
Becky Danielson, M.Ed., has two of the best job descriptions, wife and mom. She is also a licensed Parent & Family Educator, co-founder of 1 Corinthians 13 Parenting, and the co-author of Raising Little Kids with Big Love and Raising Big Kids with Supernatural Love along with Study Guides. The series is available on Amazon. Becky and her family live in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Subscribe to the parenting newsletter at FaithFirstParent.com and the quarterly newsletter at 1Corinthians13Parenting.com for parenting tips, strategies, and resources to equip and encourage you on your parenting journey.