8 Tips for Developing Patience with Your Child
Parenting a child who is on the autism spectrum requires a lot of love and patience. The love comes naturally; the patience is something you learn to develop and cultivate. Because there are so many complex layers involved, it can be emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausting. Planning and preparation help stave off some of the chaos and frustration. With that in mind, here are eight tips to help you develop patience with your child.
8. Remember to Remain Calm
Repetitive behaviors and having to repeat instructions can induce stress, catching you off-guard, and resulting in your own outbursts that just make things worse. One way to manage the situation is to take a few deep breaths, give yourself a time-out to assess the situation, and remember to remain calm. Help your child use their coping techniques or try distracting them. When you focus on the needed outcome, your calm reasoning filters out behaviors that prolong your child’s emotional crisis.
7. Ask for Support
When you need support, ask for it. Whether you seek support online or in person, reaching out to friends, family, and professionals can help you cope with your needs so that you can meet your child’s needs. If you can find a support group, you may discover an outlet for sharing information and advice with other parents who have children with autism. Assess what you need to lighten your load, and ask for help.
6. Do Something Else that Is Relaxing
You don’t have to wait until you’re at the end of your rope to tie a knot and hang on. When you hit an impasse with your child, try to do something that relaxes you. Call a friend, listen to your favorite music, or get on the computer until you relax. Sometimes, you just need to get your mind off the stressful situation for a little while in order to deal with it logically and calmly.
5. Look at Things From Your Child’s Perspective
Childhood isn’t all fun and games, especially for children with autism. When you and your child are in the throes of dueling meltdowns, you are the one who must figure out how to turn it around. It helps to stop and look at things from your child’s perspective. Use your empathy to ask why they’re behaving this way. Ask yourself what kind of response you can give to make the behavior better. Lower your voice, measure your words, and work toward showing your child that you understand and want to help.
4. Break Big Hurdles Down Into Small Steps
Any problem can seem overwhelming when simply looking at the big picture, but you’ve got to start somewhere. Chip away at those obstacles that seem so daunting one step at a time. Just like children with autism may need the big tasks broken down into smaller steps, sometimes, so do you. Each small step is a chance for you to accomplish something bigger and greater. Empower yourself by taking care of the little things, and work your way up to the bigger things.
3. Focus on the Positive
Keep your focus on the good things that happen as often as possible. It boosts your mood, sometimes even in the most trying of circumstances, and can become contagious. Look for ways to reward your child’s good behaviors. When you praise your child for their successes, you both win.
2. Seek Momentary Refuge
During a meltdown, reasoning is the last thing on your child’s mind, and it is of major importance to refrain from unleashing your own frustration on them. If your child is too combative to go into a time-out place to have their meltdown, leave the room. Go into the bathroom or outside if you must, but remove yourself from the immediate situation when you feel your frustration surging too high. Do what you need to do to avoid having a meltdown of your own at your child.
1. Consider Respite Care
If you find yourself especially worn down, consider respite care. This is when you engage a responsible caregiver to stay with your child to give you a break. You need this chance to do things that are restorative to your own health and well-being, allowing you to return home refreshed, renewed, and ready to help your child.
Developing patience with your child doesn’t happen overnight. Give it time. You’re learning as you go, while trying different approaches, treatments, and techniques to help you determine what works best for you and your child. If your child doesn’t respond to a particular technique, try to stay positive and empower yourself by having a backup plan ready to take its place. It’s easier to stay calm and patient when you know that you have coping techniques to manage your frustration, planned responses for your child’s tantrums, and resources for support when needed.