Parenting a child with an intellectual disability requires special attention to ensure that your child develops into an inquisitive young adult who is ready to meet the challenges of daily life.
Your parenting style can have a profound effect on how your child develops and learns. Studies on the subject are sparse, but a recent analysis found that positive parenting can have a great effect on the development of a child with an intellectual disability. But what is positive parenting, and how can you create an environment where positive interactions with your child yield the right results?
What is an Intellectual Disability?
An intellectual disability, or cognitive disability, is a term used to describe a person that has limitations in certain mental functioning skills. These may include:
- Self-care activities
- Communication skills
- Learning styles and skills
- Social behavior skills
If your child is diagnosed with an intellectual disability, he or she may have difficulty learning and mastering these skills.
Developing a Parenting Style to Maximize Your Child’s Learning
When parenting a child with an intellectual disability, it is important to create an environment that is positive and supportive. Here are some things you can do to create a positive learning environment for your child:
- Give your child time and be patient. Sometimes your child will simply need a little more time when learning certain things. When your child is learning a new task or skill, you may feel the need to consistently try to help things along by doing the task over and over for your child. Step back, provide positive encouragement, and allow your child the time to work through the task. You’ll find that your child’s mastery of the task comes when they has the opportunity to work through the new skill on their own.
- Encourage independence. Everyone wants to feel like they have control over a situation, and children are no exception. Make sure you give your child some room to explore and learn independently. Give your child chores and tasks that are challenging but manageable, and then let your child work independently through the task.
- Work closely with your child’s teacher and school. If you are the parent of a school-aged child with an intellectual disability, communicate closely with their school to ensure that the positive environment you create at home carries into the school environment. Work with your child’s teacher to find opportunities for learning that can also carry over from school to your home.
- Find opportunities for social development. When we think about learning, we typically think about mathematics and reading. But children need to learn proper social skills to be successful in their community, too. Find activities and groups for your to child join, and give your child the independence to create and work through social situations. Stay positive, and be sure that leaders of groups you join understand your child’s specific needs and are aligned with your positive learning strategy.
- Seek help from other parents or support groups. Sometimes you just can’t do it alone. Seek out other people who are parenting a child with an intellectual disability, and share ideas with them. Take advantage of supportive programs that foster community with you and your child.
You may require professional assistance to help your child learn and master skills. For over 20 years, Integrity, Inc. has been providing support services for families just like yours. Contact Integrity, Inc. to learn about our programs for children with intellectual disabilities to see how they we can help your family create the best positive environment for your child.