Parenting children with developmental delays

During the growing phase, children develop multiple skills, such as walking, running, speaking, eating without support, and much more. These are known as development milestones that every child develops at his or her own unique way. Nevertheless, there is a standard age variation for different skills and when a child fails to develop those skills within that age bracket, or doesn’t develop them at all, then the child is known to suffer from developmental delays.

For parents and caregivers, bringing up a child with a developmental delay can be a daunting task. However, for effective parenting, one must be open to all the available resources and actively seek support from parent groups, counselors, as well as online and offline support groups to feel empowered and assured.

Here are some parenting tips that can help manage children with symptoms of delayed development:

1. Seeking early intervention: Early intervention can be very helpful in seeking a timely treatment plan and preventing the condition from worsening. Parents of children with delayed skill development must notify their pediatrician about their concerns as early as possible. The pediatrician might, in turn, refer the child to a development psychologist for additional assessment.

2. Breaking down tasks into simpler steps: To teach a new skill to a developmentally delayed child, it is essential to adopt a very simple stepwise teaching methodology. For example, while teaching a child about cleaning his or her room, one should say, “You put your books on that shelf while I arrange your toys”. One must let the child focus on one area at a time and never expect him or her to do multitasking.

3. Giving direct instructions: Children with development delay might have a difficult time comprehending idioms and metaphors, and might not be very good at reading facial expressions. It is, therefore, a good idea to use simple and clear set of instructions. For instance, it is much better to say, “Fill color in this drawing”, rather than saying, “complete your homework”.

4. Being patient and consistent: Children with development delays might need a lot of practice to master a skill, therefore, one must never lose patience for it might be very demotivating and painful for the child. In addition, parents should encourage their children to do a lot of practice because, many a times, even after perfectly learning a skill, special needs children might forget it very soon.

5. Rewarding frequently: Developmentally delayed children usually take a lot of time, in comparison to their normal counterparts, to learn and master a skill. However, they put genuine efforts, most of the time. It is, therefore, imperative that parents, teachers and caregivers appreciate even the smallest of the efforts that a child invests toward learning anything. Every little achievement must be attached to an award such as extra playtime, an extra bar of chocolate, etc., so that a child feels motivated.

6. Taking a break: Sometimes, looking after a special needs child can get overwhelming. Therefore, for a parent, it is very important to take a break, socialize with close friends and family, focus on eating good diet, and taking proper rest to channelize the energy.

Road to recovery

Parenting a child with developmental delays requires that a parent gets support from not only the teachers and family members, but also from the skilled professionals to relieve frustrations and doubts that come up regularly during this arduous journey.

Watching a child grow and develop as a normal family member is very satisfying for a parent, but unfortunately, for some parents, development delays of a child can become very stressful and might cause a lot of psychological stress, which if left untreated, can greatly affect the quality of life of the entire family.

Seeking out treatment for any psychological stress is paramount to living a productive and healthy life. Take the first step towards a joyful life and call the 24/7 Mental Health Helpline today. To consult with one of our mental health specialists, chat online or call our 24/7 helpline number 855-653-8178 to know in detail about the mental health centers near you.