When you discover your child has Down syndrome, it can be extremely overwhelming. Parents often have concerns about medical needs and how to give their children the best life possible. Parenting a child with down syndrome comes with many ups and downs, but it is an amazingly rewarding journey. When it comes to raising a child with down syndrome, there are a few key tips that can help you along the way.
The first thing to remember is that your child is still a child, like any other. They will be full of love and energy and be amazed by the world around them.
Parenting a Child With Down Syndrome
One of you first resources you will have for parenting your child with down syndrome will be their doctors, therapists, teachers, and other specialists. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or take notes when you meet with them.
While these professionals will give you a wealth of knowledge, it’s not quite the same as living daily life. For the best advice, connect with other parents of children with down syndrome. There are groups locally and online that you can talk with, hang out with, and learn from when it comes to raising a child with down syndrome.
Raising a Child with Down Syndrome
Here are just a few tips to help you as you start your journey in raising a child with down syndrome. Remember that each child and family is unique, so don’t ever compare yourself to others. At the end of the day, you are the expert when it comes to your child. You know them best and are their first and best advocate.
Children with Down syndrome thrive on routines and predictability. Being consistent with the daily routine will help your child feel secure and know what to expect.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Have a bedtime routine, such as reading a story or taking a bath, and do it in the same order each night.
- Consider investing in safety beds.
- Be consistent with naps and mealtimes. Try not to let your child skip meals or snacks.
- If your child is having a meltdown, try to remain calm. Yelling will only make the situation worse.
Don’t Over Complicated Language
When talking to your child, use short, simple sentences. This will help your child understand the meanings behind what you are saying.
Additionally, remember these tips:
- Avoid using big words or medical jargon.
- Use concrete words instead of abstract concepts. For example, say “the sun is out” instead of “it’s sunny outside.”
- Use descriptive words to help your child understand what you are saying. For example, say “This is a big truck” instead of “That’s a truck.”
Giving your child choices will help them feel in control and reduce meltdowns. It will also help them learn to make decisions. When giving choices, make sure they are realistic and that you are okay with either choice. For example, “Do you want to wear a blue or red shirt?”
Here are some more examples:
- When it’s time to go to bed, give your child the choice of two books to read.
- At mealtimes, offer three different foods and let your child choose which one they want to eat.
Encourage Good Behavior
Children with Down syndrome often need extra praise and encouragement for good behavior. This will help them understand what behaviors are expected and appreciated.
Here are a few ideas:
- When your child picks up their toys, say, “Thank you for picking up your toys.”
- If your little champ shares something with a sibling, say, “I’m so proud of you for sharing your toys.”
- After your kid goes potty, say, “Good job! You used the potty like a big kid.”
Use Visual Aids
Visual aids, such as pictures or videos, can help your child understand what you are saying and follow instructions.
Here are a few ways to use visual aids:
- Use a picture schedule to help your child know what activities are coming up.
- Make a social story to teach your child about a new situation, such as going to the doctor or starting school.
- Use pictures or videos to show your child how to do an activity, such as brushing their teeth.
Children with Down syndrome learn at a slower pace than other children. It is essential to be patient and not compare your child’s development to other children. Every child develops at their own pace.
Additionally, keep these things in mind:
- If your child has trouble learning a new skill, break it into smaller steps.
- Be patient when your kid is practicing a new skill. They will eventually get it.
- Encourage your child by telling them that you are proud of their progress.
Parenting a Child with Down Syndrome
Raising a child with Down syndrome is not always easy, but it is rewarding. It is essential to be patient, use simple language, and be consistent with routines. Additionally, giving your child choices, encouraging good behavior, and visual aids can help your child thrive.