Color & Control:

The 10 secrets of unleashing your child’s superpowers

How to successfully launch your child from struggling to thriving in school and life.

By Ruthangela Bernadette

You know you’re a super mum, don’t you? Yes, you are a super mum, and you are going to help other super mums and super dads who are super-stuck right now, just like you were stuck for the longest time.

Right then, I’m going to give you the 10 secrets of unleashing your child’s superpowers.

The ultimate secret
By far, the most important secret: You, and you alone are the expert on your child. Nobody else knows more about your kid than you do. By no means am I suggesting you forge ahead with your mission without listening to experts in their fields. You are the expert on your child as a whole, but you need to listen to doctors, speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, teachers, etc. sometimes. Ultimately, it is up to you what you do with their advice.

Listen to your gut
Remember the old saying, “Mother knows best?” It’s true. When it comes to your kid, you do know best. Your gut will tell you if something isn’t right. It doesn’t lie. Sorry dads, but when God was handing out gut instincts, he missed most of you.

Ignore, ignore, ignore
Ignore the crabs. Ignore the naysayers. Ignore the well-meaners. Ignore the expectation-managers. These sorts are particularly adept at grabbing you with their pincers and dragging you back down into the bucket. Don’t let them.

Your child is a sensitive soul
Your child picks up on every nuance, inference, hint of annoyance/impatience/joy/ excitement in your voice and mannerisms. Autism or living with a disability does not equal stupid, and just because some of our children can’t speak, or express themselves eloquently, does not mean they don’t understand what is going on. They do. They get it. In fact, they are so intuitive that they appreciate what is going on in a much deeper way than you can even contemplate. If you are stressed, they feel it. If you are depressed, they feel it. Never ever talk about your child in front of them. Choose your words, tone, and body language carefully, and tell others to do likewise.

Start early
When I say “early” I mean when he or she is eighteen months old, not six-and-a-half. It’s easier and takes considerably less time and heartache. Nobody needs a diagnosis of any kind to start.

Choose a school like you would choose a spouse
Yep, it’s that important. And let’s face it, seven or eight years in any school is a longer time than a lot of marriages these days. Consider taking him or her out of school completely and home- schooling for a couple of years because you could cover much more ground in a shorter space of time. But, if you can’t afford to do that, and you need to work to bring home the bacon, I respect that. When choosing your child’s school, listen to your gut.

Dig deep
You will spend a lot of money. There is no way around this fact. You will have to dig deep into your pockets and deep within yourself for resources. Choose what you spend your money on wisely. Some parents have taken out a second mortgage on their home to fund their kid’s interventions, but many don’t need to take such drastic action.

This will isolate you
You will lose friends. You will lose acquaintances. You and your child will be marooned for a few years, especially if you home school. Let people think whatever they want because what they think is none of your business.

Make allies, not enemies
You’re in for a marathon, not a sprint here, and the more support you can find, the better. Don’t lose your temper with people who honestly believe they are helping you, even if they’re not. Don’t shoot your mouth off at them and burn your bridges, even if they do deserve it.

Newsflash! Not all teachers/therapists/ clinicians care about your kid. Sorry to have to break it to you, but it’s true. You’ll be able to spot them quite easily. They’re the ones who might look like they are listening to you when really they’re just waiting for their turn to talk. They don’t know any better, so go easy on them. Not all of them are as bad as that, and some of them are really talented.

So, do me a favour, will you? Squeeze out a semblance of civility with these people every now and again.


Look after you

Take it from me… looking after yourself is just as important as looking after your special child. If you are running on empty, it will show in your work with your child. Remember the safety drill on board the plane. “If travelling with a child, always attend to your own oxygen mask before securing theirs.” If you can’t find a good life coach, someone who understands the unique work that you are doing, then become a life coach yourself.

Teaching kids resilience

Here are a set of prompts to reflect on that could be used in simple interactions every day:

  • Give your child independence to try new things they initiate, such as climbing at the playground or opening a container, even if you think it is “too hard” for them.
  • Encourage your child to serve others or let others go first when sharing food.
  • Enable your child to give toys and clothes away regularly to charity, and teach them that material possessions are simply tools and not answers to happiness.
  • Give your child opportunities to help others younger than them, starting with simple ways, such as showing the other child pictures in a book.
  • Encourage your child to maintain a positive attitude about chores or homework by teaching them creative ways to find fun in work.
  • If your child is older, give them the chance to wait for family meals instead of snacking any time they want.
  • Remind your child to be patient with a younger sibling’s interference with their toys; teach them that relationships are more important than things.”
  • Help your child learn self- control regarding electronic mediums and entertainment by demonstrating your own restraint.
  • Allow your child to experience the extremes of temperature by dressing accordingly, not hiding away from the weather.

Excerpted with permission from Special Kid to Super Kid.

Ruthangela Bernadette’s passion is to inspire and empower parents, but her real job is to raise her eye-rolling, door-slamming, make-up wearing super daughter and of course saving the world before dinner time.

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