Between the daily routines, occasional errands, and endless snacks, parenthood is filled with both perfect, bright-shining moments and challenging days that can feel 30 hours long. It’s so important to celebrate successes and bask in the good moments because we know that we’ll have harder days, too. For parents of kids with autism, there are plenty of tougher days.
As we begin the school year and routines change, it’s common for kids—and especially kids with autism—to have a few rough days as they adjust. Please remember: You’ve got this! At Innovative Behavior Options, we’re here cheering you on. From our ABA therapists and parents of kids with autism, here are a few tips to help you make it through the tough days.
Take a Step Back
Helping your child work through a tantrum can have you feeling like you’re caught up in a whirling tornado. Especially if it’s the fourth tantrum of the day. It’s easy to get frustrated and to feel completely abandoned by the rational, decision-making part of your brain.
Just as you might take your child out of a situation that’s over stimulating, allow yourself to take a step back and regroup. In the heat of the moment, it’s easier said than done, but getting a little perspective will help you and your child.
And when the storm passes, find an opportunity to recharge. Whether it’s a few minutes reading a book, watching tv, or a little exercise, do something small that’s just for you.
Practice Positive Self-Talk
Positive thinking is powerful! Replace negative thoughts with regular reminders that you’ve got this. That you’re exactly the parent that your child needs. Increasing positive self-talk and positive feelings will better equip you to manage the stressful situations as they arise.
Call in Reinforcements
No one can do it all alone. On days when things are really tough, don’t hesitate to jettison any and all nonurgent errands and ask for help with anything you can. Opt for take-out (or better yet, delivery) for dinner—preferably something that is both comforting for your child and a nice treat for you. Cancel the play date. Put off the grocery store for another day.
If someone else can watch your child—even if it’s after their bedtime—take a moment to get out of the house alone (maybe a walk or a short drive) and recenter yourself.
Take a Deep Breath… or Several
Breathing exercises can lower stress. And what’s more stressful that a tough day for your child? When you have a moment (you only need a minute!) focus on your breathing and relax your body (do you hold tension in your jaw? Your shoulders?) and reset yourself so you’re ready for whatever comes next.
We all have hard days. This probably isn’t your first, and it certainly won’t be your last. Identify strategies that work best for you ahead of the next rough day, and in the middle of it all, remember that you’re a great parent!
At IBO, we want you and your family to thrive. If you have questions about ABA therapy, please send us a note at Robin@BehaviorOptions.com or give us a call at 770-250-0093.