It is known that warm and responsive parenting is optimal for child development. A study* has found that “the parents of children with disabilities and suspected delays evidenced significantly lower levels of warmth and less frequent parent–child activities compared with other parents.”
With studies like this it is always a case of the sample utilised, and obviously you will have parents that don’t fit the “norm”. With two boys classed as disabled myself, I am always determined to be the Oddball in this case, and not fit the mould.
One way I make sure I have plenty of parent-child time is to let them help around the house, as this can be fun and not just a chore. See my previous post on why this is beneficial to them.
Another way is through cooking. I always remember receiving a book called “Cooking with Mother” when I was first a parent (at 18 years old). It was full of THE most basic recipes ever. I actually felt insulted, and thought they were telling me that I couldn’t cook the most basic thing. Now I realise that actually it isn’t about the end product, it’s about the process. The time spent together, the confidence boosting, the self-esteem building.
Also we know that children model our behavior, so showing good organisation/preparation skills, to wash our hands, clean up as we go along, are very important too.
I have to put my hands up here and say that I DO need to start making more healthy things with my younger children, because I’m more likely to indulge them into a spot of cake or biscuit making. I really want to look into making my own pizza bases, but even if I just started with buying a base and letting them decorate them would be a good start.
My oldest is now 16. He has Aspergers and struggles a bit more than the average teen with life skills (I’m sure though that most mothers of teenagers will relate to all this though). He seems to think that the cereal box, orange juice just refill themselves, for example, and has no concept of actually going out and buying food, never mind planning it, and cooking it. So we decided to try to slowly help him learn a bit more about being a grown up. We aimed to build up to him planning, buying and cooking a meal: But one step at a time!
Initially he would make sandwiches for lunch. But we decided that he needed to move onto hot things. Giving him plenty of warning that this is what would be happening, we started by suggested that he make beans on toast for the whole family (there’s 6 of us). The ingredients and equipment were all ready for him, plus we were at hand to guide him through the stages. We made these steps (or cooking days) to always fall on a Saturday, so he knew when to anticipated when it would be happening. Next he made spaghetti bolognaise, using jars of sauce, and again with lots of help and guidance. Another week he made lasagna and this time we taught him how to make his own sauce.
Do you have any tips on helping your disabled child or teenager (or disabled teenager) develop life skills? Or do you have any other parent-child activity ideas?
*Eshbaugh, E. M., Peterson, C. A., Wall, S., Carta, J. J., Luze, G., Swanson, M. and Jeon, H.-J. (2011), Low-income parents’ warmth and parent–child activities for children with disabilities, suspected delays and biological risks. Inf. Child Develop., 20: 509–524. doi: 10.1002/icd.717