Staying Positive: Tips for Parents and Teachers of Students with Special Needs

Anticipate Reality

While most people tend to desire instant gratification, this is not always feasible in the real world. Understand that progress does not always have to be measured in leaps and bounds but can be measured in steps and hops. Instead of striving for perfection, aim to accomplish a little part of your goal each day. Talk to others who have been where you are and who have experienced the set backs you are experiencing. Use books, blogs, teaching guides, friends, and colleagues as resources. Keep in mind that every situation and every child is different so some adaptation will be necessary.

There is a reason you are here

In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it’s easy to lose sight of the positive aspects of being a teacher or a parent. Remember that there is a reason why you are teaching or parenting. Presumably you are a loving and attached parent who wants to do what is best for your child or you are a dedicated teacher who understands the nobility of the profession. Maybe it is simply because you love the look on a child’s face when he learns something new or maybe it is because you want to be the kind of parent yours were for you. Whatever your reasons are, write them down so you can reflect on them to give you inspiration when you feel doubt creeping in.

One Day at a Time

When trying something new, there is always the possibility that it will not work out the way you had hoped or that it will be met with by resistance. When this happens, it is helpful to start small. Try assigning a new task or piloting a new technique just for one day. This lightens the burden of taking on an entirely new project all at once. Apply this concept to yourself as well as to your charges.

The Drawing Board

Don’t be afraid to go back to it again…and again. There’s no crime in admitting that you’re wrong, only in not recognizing it. By figuring out what is and isn’t working, you can fix issues that could arise from poor techniques. Even if it means going back over something you spent weeks planning or devising, if there’s a better way to do it, then do it! Don’t be hard on yourself. Be Kind!

At Stanfield, we know that being a parent or teacher of a child with special needs, although highly rewarding at times, can also be one of the toughest jobs out there. Let’s face it; you are not just a parent or a teacher. You are also a coach, a nurse, a therapist, a cheerleader, and at times, possibly even a janitor. As with any tough job, you probably experience stress, discouragement, and frustration. While this is natural, remembering the guidelines above can help even the most stressful parts feel worthwhile as well as help you to stay positive even when you’re at the end of your “rope”. We hope you found these techniques useful!

©2012 James Stanfield Company. All Rights Reserved.


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Dr. James Stanfield, Ed.D.

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