This post was originally featured in my book >>THEY SAY I’M SPECIAL: 100 TIPS TO RAISE A HAPPY AND RESILIENT CHILD WITH SPECIAL NEEDS << but I believe it pertains just as much to raising children without special needs too.
If you are looking for tips and advice on how to be your child’s advocate and voice when they need you to be, you have come to the right place!
SO WHY SHOULD YOU BE YOUR CHILD’S NUMBER ONE ADVOCATE?
Parenting experts say we should raise children to be independent and self-sufficient but the reality is some kids will always needs a helping hand.
When they are still young, they need a voice too – your voice.
More than anything your child needs you to fight for the things they desperately need but can’t achieve without adult intervention.
They need you to speak on their behalf if their own voice can’t be heard.
They need you to communicate to those who can do something positive and productive about their issues – communicate all their frustrations and desires so their thoughts, dreams and feelings can be addressed taken into consideration.
If you don’t stand up for your children who then will?
Being an advocate for your child is one of the most important roles you will ever play as a parent.
If your child is having difficulties they need to know that their situation and feelings will be heard and respected by others rather than being brushed aside, ignored or dismissed.
To help you become a better advocate for your child:
Know your child’s rights
Take the time to learn and understand the rights of your child for his or her particular situation.
It is important you know exactly what your child is entitled to so that you don’t waste people’s time or your own sanity asking for things you aren’t permitted to receive.
Try to be understanding
I usually like to give others the benefit of the doubt.
I recognise that schools just like people are capable of becoming strained or buckling under pressure so I try to be understanding if they miss something when it comes to supporting the needs of my child.
That of course does not mean you shouldn’t immediately communicate to the school if your child is suffering for whatever reason but there is more chance of success if you do so from a position of calm and reason rather than attack or anger.
Work with the school rather than against them
Following on from the previous point it helps to know that the school is usually ON YOUR SIDE.
They want the best for your child, just like you do, but they must also take into consideration all the other students under their care.
It therefore helps to be open-minded when you are speaking to the school about options for your child – usually there is more than one way to help a child fit in and be happy.
Allow for the possibility of creative alternatives and be open to listening to what they have to say.
Always be prepared for meetings
Meetings regarding your child are an important opportunity for you to ask all the questions on your mind and finally get some answers.
So make sure to note everything you are curious, anxious, worried or concerned about down onto paper.
You want to use your time wisely as these opportunities to address issues head on are valuable.
YOU NEED TO ALSO BE YOUR CHILD’S CHAMPION
Every child deserves a champion – an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and who insists that they become the best that they can possibly be. Rita F. Pierson
It may sound rather over-the-top: being a champion for your child but the term champion here isn’t defined in the traditional sense of the word.
We usually hear it used as a noun (as a person who has surpassed all rivals in a sporting competition or other contest) but when I say champion in this context I mean it as a verb.
To be a champion of something or someone means to vigorously support, protect or defend that individual or cause.
In many respects this may seem similar to being an advocate for your child however I see it as something deeper, something much more than just speaking up for and supporting your child’s needs in the outside world.
To be a champion for someone means doing it even when there is no one around to see it, doing it at home, even when you are alone together, quietly uplifting and inspiring that other person who needs help to learn how to soar.
Being someone’s champion means listening to them talk, listening to their ideas, making them feel heard, accepted, understood, respected and supported.
Even if he or she doesn’t follow through on their plans, even if they face obstacle after obstacle after obstacle, your constant and patient “championing” of your child will have a positive impact.
Often the difference between feeling defeat and depression versus a serene sense of peace and hope is the supporter we have in our corner, cheering us on to never give up.
So feel free to be a cheerleader for your child – it is amazing how much a person can do when he or she has someone who believes in them, loves them unconditionally and encourages them to never, ever give up.
For more information on how you can raise a happy and resilient child with special needs, please feel free to check out my book THEY SAY I’M SPECIAL: 100 TIPS TO RAISE A HAPPY AND RESILIENT CHILD WITH SPECIAL NEEDS
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