New Year’s resolutions – good or bad for kids with special needs?

celebrationI have never been one to commit to a New Year’s resolution, in part because I would feel badly if I did not follow through and achieve my goal. Most of the time, my resolution was such an unobtainable goal that I set myself up for failure. Sound familiar?

Kids with special needs all too often face immense challenges and have to try and try again to reach goals that their peers seem to attain with ease. As a parent, it becomes very important to carefully pick and choose goals and to try to make sure your child is not facing undue hardship or repeated failure. As with any struggle, a little bit of a challenge is good – it spurs you to move onward and provides a huge sense of relief and pride when you reach your goal. But, too much struggle can bring exhaustion of body, mind and spirit, which will not help your little one in the long run.

As a parent of a child with special needs, it is important to set goals and have aspirations for your child. But it is essential that the goals are reasonable. There is no sense in whittling away at your child’s confidence by setting a bar too high and then having to deal with the negative self-image your child experiences if the goal is not achieved.

As you settle into the mindset of New Year’s resolutions, think of goals that are measurable and achievable. Perhaps set three small goals instead of one big goal. Or, let your child decide what he would like to focus on (if he is old enough to decide). For example, it could be that riding a tricycle is something he really wants to be able to do and will work on that goal for a few minutes every day with your assistance and praise. Or, it could be that dressing himself is something you really want to see your child master, so you may focus on one aspect of that task at a time (such as putting on socks, or pants), and gradually adding on other aspects of dressing as each small part is mastered.

Whatever the goal, break it down into smaller chunks, so that each week you can celebrate progress. A sticker chart can work wonders to help your little one see how far he has come. Just be sure to be consistent and celebrate each step as he inches closer to his goal. You can never do too many happy dances!

So, go easy on yourself and your little one as you glide into 2015. I wish you and your family many happy moments, continued progress and much success.

 

Note: This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – How to get help for your child. It was started in January 2013 and appears every Wednesday. While on News Moms Need, select “Help for your child” on the menu on the right side to view all of the blog posts to date. You can also view a Table of Contents of prior posts.

Feel free to ask questions. Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Tags: , , , ,

Leave a Reply