Caring for Special Needs Children and the Cost to Your Mental Health – Coping Strategies

Posted February 15, 2022

A mother holding their disabled child on a sunny day in a field while they both laugh and playCaregiver burnout is a real challenge for many parents with children with special needs. Caring for a child with special needs requires constant attention, whether your child has highly specific health needs, developmental disabilities that require ongoing therapies, or a combination of the two. You may spend your life advocating for a child with special needs. Worse, if you have other children in the home, you may constantly worry that those children will fall through the cracks.

The parents and, in some cases, siblings of children with special needs are more likely to suffer from a host of mental health challenges, including anxiety, depression, and fatigue. Siblings may suffer from higher levels of stress or even resentment related to the chores they’re asked to take on around the house, the need to help care for the disabled sibling, or the things they feel they have to miss out on because of the cost of caring for a disabled sibling.

With all those challenges pressing down on you, how can you cope?

1. Join a Support Group

Join with other parents or siblings of children with special needs. Not only can those support groups give you an excellent opportunity to talk over the frustrations you may find yourself dealing with, but other parents or siblings may also have ideas that can help you meet those challenges more effectively.

2. Work with a Therapist to Support Your Own Mental Health (and the Mental Health of Neurotypical or Non-Disabled Siblings)

Often, a special needs child’s health takes precedence over everyone else in the family. As you continue to juggle ongoing appointments, therapies, medications, and a host of other responsibilities, you may feel that any other appointments or needs must go on the back burner, either for financial reasons or because of the lack of additional hours in the day.

It’s important to carefully consider the needs of every member of the family, especially as it pertains to physical and mental health. Make seeing a therapist a priority for each family member, especially during more difficult or stressful times.

3. Keep Your Core Family Members Informed About the Latest Medical Needs and Procedures of the Special Needs Sibling

Sometimes, parents try to keep their other children in the dark about the medical challenges a sibling with special needs might be facing. However, in the absence of an explanation, children may start to imagine their own outcomes, and they’re often darker than the reality. Children often have very vivid imaginations, and they can imagine many negative scenarios involving a sibling with special needs. Keep your children informed about the latest changes in their sibling’s status so they can set aside those worries.

4. Build Your Village

When you have a child with special needs, you may quickly learn who you can rely on and trust and who you cannot. Your neurotypical children may discover who their real friends are, who they can trust to be around their sibling, and who they cannot rely on.

Build your village. Reach out to other parents in similar circumstances or whose children may face similar challenges. Lean on the family members you can trust. With a village behind you, you will often feel more confident in dealing with the other challenges you may face.

5. Take Advantage of the Resources Available to You – And Don’t Try to Do It All on Your Own

It’s common for one parent, often the child’s mother, to take on the full responsibility for everything involving a child with special needs. You may feel that you have no other options and that no one else can care for your child the way you do. That’s where your village comes in. Use trustworthy individuals that you can trust to watch your child. Call on family members to help out with your neurotypical children. When burnout starts to rise, ask for help with tasks that anyone can take on for you, including cooking and cleaning.

Furthermore, take advantage of the resources available in your community. Seek out a church with a quality special needs program so that you can attend the service. Take advantage of respite care. Look into the programs available through your school system. You may be surprised by what resources are available and by how much weight it takes off your shoulders.

6. Schedule Time with Your Spouse and Your Other Children.

Plan date nights with your spouse, even when it seems hard to get away. Set specific times to spend time with your other children. It may feel as though your child with special needs always needs you. To reduce burnout, take advantage of the options available to aid in care and spend time with the other members of your family regularly. Not only will it help strengthen your relationship with those family members, but it can also help decrease the risk of caregiver fatigue for all of you.

Parenting a child with special needs is a unique journey. Avoiding caregiver fatigue is an ongoing struggle, especially if you feel isolated from other people around you. With these strategies, you can reduce burnout and improve your overall mental health while continuing to support your child.

MHS Can Help

Many mental health activities can help combat the symptoms of mental health issues. You can sometimes benefit from additional treatment options such as therapy. MHS serves clients throughout the Apple Valley, MN area who seek support and guidance on their mental health journey. We offer dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) and other treatment options. Call us at (952) 835-2002 or learn more about us online.

Image Source: NDAB Creativity / Shutterstock

Does TV/Social Media Promote Anger in Children?

Posted February 15, 2022

Three children lean against a chain link fence staring and typing on their smart phonesAs research proves, parents are now more than ever worried about the kind of influence that screen media has on their children’s mental health, self-esteem, and interpersonal skills. Given the vast array of media options available today, children of all ages are exposed to plenty of online content. iPads, desktops, smartphones, and gaming consoles, for instance, are highly popular among children nowadays. Besides, Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, and Facebook are all experiencing rapid growth. This post discusses the level to which digital media can be too much and how it influences your child.

How Much TV/Social Media is Too Much?

How many hours each day should your youngster devote to social media? Read on to know what experts have to say.

Engaging for Over 3 Hours Every Day on Social Platforms is Harmful

Although spending hours scrolling through Instagram and Facebook may appear insignificant, the short- and long-term implications on the mind are severe. Notably, teens who devote over three hours a day to social platforms have a 60 percent greater risk of mental health disorders than those who do not use social media.

Experts widely regard this three-hour mark as the recommended threshold for all digital media consumers, as anything above this point negatively affects self-image and how one deals with fears and stressors. According to Inverse, more social media activity directly influences your kid’s emotional dimension. As a result, the more hours your child spends on social media, the more the feelings of tension, melancholy, and isolation they develop.

Experts Recommend Only 30 Minutes Each Day

Cutting social media use to 30 minutes per day, as per the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, helps boost mental health and clarity and positively influences your child’s overall health. The report recommends devoting about 10 minutes every day to three different social networking platforms to sustain participation without veering too much into the wrong path. Test subjects who followed the 30-minute principle exhibited reduced anxiety levels, despair, and tension, and they said they didn’t have as much FOMO (fear of missing out).

Does Online Media Affect My Child?

Your children risk getting detrimental health effects if they devote over three hours each day to consuming digital media. Not only can scrolling raise emotions of melancholy, stress, and loneliness, but it also has a physical impact. According to Forbes, digital media users who devote excessive time in front of screens are more likely to be overweight and risk developing chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.

Digital Media Induces Poor Self-Esteem

Within online spaces, teenagers are now subjected to social comparisons at school and on a 24-hour basis. High school students, for instance, can post a Snapchat of their newest Nike or perhaps their PS5 present as soon as they get them as a way of showing off. Additionally, platforms like Snapchat come in handy for kids and teens to exchange disparaging photos, harass, and impose peer pressure on each other, all of which are detrimental to a child’s self-regard.

Too Much Time on Social Media Induces Sleeping Disorders

Sleep deprivation causes significant health problems, along with affecting your child’s learning and development, conduct, appetite, despair, and general health. Besides, sleep is required for brain growth; the average child and adolescent need 9.5 hours of rest to foster growth and maturity.

Reliance on Social Media Causes a Loss of Independence

Screen time and social media use are inert pursuits that do not promote your child’s cognitive growth, as they do not prompt children to engage in critical thinking or hands-on study. Too much digital consumption causes behavioral issues, learning impairments, attention deficit disorders, and inhibiting overall cognitive growth.

Induces the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)

FOMO is a novel type of social panic that influences youngsters and teenagers. Parties, athletic tournaments, road trips, holidays, hangouts, trendy shoes, video game acquisitions, and so on all appear to be documented on social media today. Most kids see social media as their connection to the outside universe, so being cut off from it makes them feel cut off from life itself.

Reduces Opportunities for Physical Activity

Children and teenagers spend very little time engaging in outdoor play as they spend more time on digital media. Besides, they drink and eat carelessly when watching TV or playing games, which risks their health due to increased calorie intake.

MHS Can Help Your Child

At MHS, we focus on Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), chemical health solutions, and behavioral health interventions. Our holistic treatments deliver customized, high-quality psychological care to our patients, focusing on clinical success and coordinated care among therapists.

Our expertise enables us to help children and teenagers deal with troubling life circumstances and seamlessly navigate the respective life stages. Schedule an appointment with us today if you want to enroll your child.

Image Source: Twin Design / Shutterstock