I think we can all agree that parenting is a tough gig. There are so many things to learn without much time for a learning curve built in. Then, throw in a child with neurological challenges such as autism and parenting just got a whole lot harder and more confusing. One of the hardest parts can be remaining calm while parenting a child with Autism.
Today, I’d like to share 3 secrets to remaining calm while parenting a child with Autism.
Let Go of the Guilt Go ahead. You got this. I know it’s extremely hard to do, but I assure you that you are doing a fabulous job. Forget about how you lost your cool last night over dinner. Let go of how you broke down because you just needed a moment of silence. Let it go.
You, my friend, are a good parent. You are working hard every single day and this job you have been given didn’t come with the perfect set of instructions. We are all still learning and working through this together. So the next time your child starts to meltdown, remember that you are doing a good job! You do not deserve to feel guilty about how you are parenting your child.
Take the Oxygen Mask First You see, you can’t possibly be expected or try to take care of your child without your own needs being met first. Think of taking a flight. What is the first thing the flight attendant tells you about the oxygen mask? Take care of your mask first and then (only when you are taken care of) should you place the mask on your children.
The key to remaining calm during a meltdown or storm with your child with autism is to make sure you are filling your cup.
You need fresh air. You need exercise (even if it is just a walk around the block). You need a phone call with a dear friend. You need a funny show to make you laugh. You need your favorite book to make you smile. You need to sleep. You need to eat. You need a shower. Most importantly… you need a break. Walk away. Take a breather. Think about filling your cup.
Learn What Makes You Tick Finally, the last secret to remaining calm with your child with autism, is to learn your triggers. We’ve talked about how parenting a child with autism can be draining on your body and your mind and that it is imperative that you fill your cup. However, if you don’t understand the things that are sending you into a tizzy, you will never be able to remain calm during crisis mode and give your child the connection and attention they need. You will respond in a way that makes the self-doubt come flooding back in and you will feel guilty for taking time for yourself when you can’t even take care of your child when they need you most.
Many of us often remember the final straw that breaks us. We remember the sound of our child saying they hate us, or we remember how it felt to get hit by our child. Some of you might remember the helpless feeling of trying to get our child to unlatch from our legs. However, I am here to tell you that more often than not… your meltdown and loss of control was not caused by that one moment or action. Instead, it was a build up of trigger after trigger after trigger until finally your lid burst and you couldn’t remain calm and collected anymore.
Parenting is a hard gig. It can be even harder if you are dealing with multiple trips to therapy each week, an isolating world of new terms and appointments, and behaviors and meltdowns that are exhausting to the core.
Most of all, I want you to remember that you are not alone. You are not the only one going through this and together we can help remind each other how to fill our cups, take care of ourselves, and let go of the guilt so we can be the best parents our children deserve.
Dayna Abraham is a National Board Certified early childhood teacher turned homeschooling mom of three. She started blogging at Lemon Lime Adventures to share her real-life experiences with homeschooling and supporting her son with Sensory Processing Disorder as well as to share life’s sweet and sour moments. Her mission is to remain down to earth while providing ideas for intentional learning experiences ranging from science to sensory play. She is also the co-author of the best selling book, Sensory Processing 101 and the founder of Project Sensory.