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How to Support Parents With Special Needs Kids

Special Needs Kids: MainDo you feel tongue tied when you meet parents with special needs kids? Are you worried that you might say or do the “wrong” things?

As the mother of a child with autism, I’ve seen a lot of people in your situation. And even though most mean well, sometimes friends and family do end up with their foot in their mouth.

My son Addy was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder about one year ago. I remember sitting in that doctor’s office, twisting a Kleenex in my hands to calm my nerves, feeling terrified to hear her say the words I knew were coming.

That day feels like a lifetime ago. The process of getting a diagnosis and taking the next steps was at times overwhelming, and it was an adjustment that took time not only for me, but for those closest to me as well.

Through mostly a process of trial and error, my friends, close family, and extended loved ones no longer worry so much about what to say or do when it comes to Addy. His autism is merely another part of what makes him who he is, much like his love of Thomas the Tank Engine and grilled cheese sandwiches.

According to CDC, 1 in 68 children is identified with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Today, I’d like to share with you, the best I can, what it is like to be the parent of a special needs child, and what you can do to support that parent in your life with a child like mine.

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How to Forge a Strong Family Using Good Old Family Stories

Family Stories: MainWonk. Bummy-wup. Giffis.

Do you understand any of these words? If so, then congratulations, you are a member of my family.

(If you’re not, FYI: the words mean milk, tuck in for bedtime, and breakfast, respectively.)

It was only when I got married that I realized how unique my family vocabulary is.

Almost daily, I would say something that would be met with a blank stare by my husband. So much so that I had to compile a “family dictionary” translating the distinct words, phrases, and inside jokes frequently referenced by my family.

All families have stories to tell—whether it’s about the origin of an odd word like “giffis,” or about how Grandpa survived a battle in WWII or Grandma battled cancer or Uncle Joe battled raccoons at a family campout.

If you identify, refine, and share stories about your family—triumphs and challenges, quirks and strengths—you can make your family happier and more resilient and close-knit.

Why Family Stories Matter

Your kids may yawn or even roll their eyes at dinnertime when you trot out the story of, say, how you met their mother.

Or they may not get enough of those tall tales and beg you to repeat them every chance they get.

Whatever their response, a growing body of research shows that teaching children about their family history yields just about every benefit a parent could wish for their kids:
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How to Love Unconditionally When Your Child is Being Difficult

How to love unconditionally when your child is being difficult - Main PosterSo we’ve all heard parenting experts tell us that the one thing children need most to grow and thrive is unconditional love from their parents.

It is easy to say that we love our children when they are being good.

Figuring out how to love unconditionally when kids are being really difficult is quite another.

I thought that I had mastered the art of teaching my children compassion, empathy and the love of family. I thought that unconditional love came easily for me.

But that was before I opened my home to my little four year old foster son, who came to me kicking, screaming and daring me to love him.

The first time I saw Frank, my new foster son, was at the Loxahatchee Feed Store. His former foster mother was dropping him off. He was too spirited of a child for her and her mother to take care of, she had explained to me over the phone. The agency had thought of me.

The little boy in front of me did not smile. He was a little bit of a boy, with curly black hair and large brown eyes. His skin was the color of milk chocolate. I had fallen in love with him the very minute that I laid eyes on him.

On the second day of my new foster son’s arrival I woke to the sound of screams. I ran to my living room. Frank had somehow broken my 16 year old son’s fish tank. Glass and dying, flopping fish were scattered across my floor. Ethan picked up the fish and ran to our canal in a futile attempt to save their lives.

A few minutes later I found Frank heading down my drive way, his backpack and Spider man suitcase in tow.

“Where do you think you are going ,” I asked him.

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How to Deal with Sibling Rivalry (Without Losing Your Cool)

Sibling Rivalry: Main PosterHow do they do it?

How do siblings go from playing perfectly to fighting furiously, in a matter of seconds?

Not only is the shift quick and pronounced, but kids seem to have a built in timer — they know the exact moment you sit down for a quiet cuppa; that moment when you relax, and it seems so hard to get out of your chair.

And you wonder why the peace was shattered, and how the change happened so suddenly.

And then you remember: nobody can fight like family.

It’s sibling rivalry, it drives parents nuts, and it’s inevitable if you’ve got more than one child in your home.

So how do you handle it, without losing your cool and making the situation a whole lot worse?

There are probably loads of ways, but here are some tactics, well suited for those of us striving to be positive parents, that I’ve tried and can vouch for –

#1 Insist on a hands-off policy

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Are These Character Education Mistakes Sabotaging Your Family?

Character Education Mistakes: Main PictureWe saw several articles this month outlining a variety of ways to build character in our kids. But, what if none of our efforts seem to make any difference?

What if our kids continue being mean, in spite of our attempt to teach them compassion?

What if our kids continue to be bossy, in spite of our attempt to teach them politeness?

What if all our attempts to teach them to be responsible come up short?

As parents invested in raising kids with good character, this can be very frustrating.

But the reasons for these setbacks may actually just be us unintentionally sabotaging our character education attempts with some common mistakes.

Check below to see if any of these mistakes are holding you down:

Mistake #1: Believing how kids act on the outside mirrors who they are on the inside

A child with good character is not a child that is perfect all the time.

Successfully building character in your children will come with a lot of mistakes. Kids are learning everyday – and character building is a part of that learning process. Children’s brains are not wired to understand impulse control and selflessness from the beginning. These are actually learned traits that parents are responsible for instilling in their children.

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