There are always going to be plenty of reasons to worry

There are going to be hard days and tears. But when we stop to look and see how far we have come as parents in our understanding and skills, and how far our child has come, it will help us to persevere and keep taking positive steps forward.

Being the parent of a child with additional needs often brings extra doubts and challenges. Not to mention the constant feeling of guilt that somehow we aren’t doing enough to help our child.

It’s easy when you’re in the thick of it to get bogged down by the daily struggles, the disappointments and the crises. The paperwork and appointments alone are overwhelming. Sometimes it can start to feel like it is one negative thing after another. Those are hard days.

When we are able to stop and look at how far our child has really come, and how far we’ve come, then we can start to see some rays of hope emerging.

Have you seen the YouTube clip of the bear and her cub climbing a sheer snow-covered mountain? It’s a couple of moments captured on film that went viral. (The clip is not without its critics because of the way it was filmed.) The baby bear’s perseverance is inspirational. But for the purposes of this article I want to reframe it slightly and draw your attention to the moment when the camera pans back and you see how far the cub has come… how seemingly overwhelming the challenge was, but how high he has climbed and how much effort it has taken.

I guess it would make sense for you as a parent to identify with the mother bear at the top of the mountain: waiting, watching, willing that cub on.

There is no doubt you do plenty of that. But indulge me for a minute and put yourself in the place of the cub. What slippery slope have you been on? How many times have you nearly made it to the top only to slide back, seemingly further away from your goal than when you started? The mountain has been incredibly steep, the snow exceptionally deep, the top so very far away… but you kept going, you got some traction, gained some momentum, and with great perseverance and resilience you made it.

Look how far you’ve come!

  • You have learned so much about your child’s diagnosis that you are able to understand what the professionals are saying at appointments.
  • You can take a quick shower.
  • Someone has said something positive about your child.
  • Your son or daughter used a new sign or a new word.
  • Your child can do something on their own that they used to need help with.
  • You kept your cool during your child’s meltdown (note that I didn’t say “during every meltdown” – this is the real world and it’s okay not to be perfect!)
  • Your child made eye contact with you today.
  • You have taken a moment to genuinely laugh.

Today, I encourage you to allow yourself to celebrate every small step that has brought you and your child to this place, to this moment in time.

You are working hard for your child’s success. It’s okay to take a minute to acknowledge your hard work and hard-won accomplishments! You are doing a fantastic job.

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