There is an epidemic of sorts in our offices these days.
We are seeing a steady stream of stressed out parents.
Generally speaking they have very good reasons for their stress. Most of them are doing what good parents do, figuring out how to make sure their kids get what they need.
It is a big job because children with learning differences need A LOT. They need help with meltdowns. They need help with organization, and they need help with transitions. They need help learning how to be calm and cope with frustration and fear. They need help with morning routines and they need help at bedtime. Often they need help to get the right supports and instruction at school.
There is a lot to learn about and a lot to do when you are raising a quirky kid.
They need you as a parent, to step up in ways that you may not have anticipated. They need you to learn about new things that may take you out of your comfort zone.
But there is one thing very important part of teaching and helping our children that is so core and so basic that we often skip right over it when we are advocating for all of the other things that they need.
It is really one of the most important parts of the foundation of parenting.
Your kids need you to take care of yourself.
Modeling self-care is just as important as all of the other things that you do for them.
Let me say it again. Your children need you to TAKE GOOD CARE OF YOURSELF.
Such a simple thing that is so hard for so many of us.
But the simple fact is that children learn by watching the adults in their lives
It is such a simple truth that sometimes we can forget.
Asking your children to find ways to self-regulate and self soothe, when you are not demonstrating good self-care is like telling your child not to text and drive but then reaching to check your phone when they are watching you from the back seat.
What do they learn then?
And believe me I get it. I am a parent and I know that it is hard to let go of trying to take care of everyone else. I know it is hard to prioritize basics like sleep, healthy food and time alone. Part of being a grown up is making sacrifices and getting what need to be done, well, done.
But if you find yourself constantly stressed out it is time to make a plan to do something about it. Your children need you.
They need your most patient, rested, well-nourished and best self.
They need you to do the self-care basics that allow you to be patient and tolerate frustration.
They need you to show them how to lead a balanced and healthy life.
If they do not see you at least trying then you are letting go of one of the most powerful teaching tools in your possession.
They are watching everything you do.
Let them see you lead a life where you work on having a healthy balance. This is one of the most important ways they will learn how to deal with a loud and overwhelming world.
Let them see you take time to re-charge. Let them see you say no to an outside commitment in favor of a lazy day in the back yard.
Let them see you leave the house messy after a hard day.
You get the idea. Oh, and also try to throw in some healthy food and some regular exercise.
In case you need permission, consider this post a call to action of sorts.
Take good care of yourself. It increases your chances of living a long healthy life and also it allows you to teach by example.
If you cannot do it for yourself then do it for your children.
Take good care, Dr. Allison