It’s normal for parents to go the extra mile to make their children happy and healthy. But, how many stroke survivors with serious impairments can do that? Not too many.
Raising children is challenging under any circumstances, but even greater obstacles for parents after their strokes. Depending on the nature of your stroke-led disability, any task might be more challenging for you – picking up your child or running after a toddler.
Luckily, knowing your limitations and working with them can make things easier for you and your children. 9zest shares some successful strategies.
1. Help your child understand disability
Openly discussing your condition with your child can help him/her understand your limitations (such as reduced mobility or physical pain).
Explain the changes you are experiencing after stroke. It’s important for them to understand that you may not be able to do the same things as before. Talk about problems that cannot be seen such as memory issues after stroke and fatigue. Explain what a stroke is by using words. Of course, how much you want to share largely depends on your child’s age.
2. Seek help
Seek an occupational therapist’s help to adapt your physical environment to your current needs. There are many technologies and assistive devices that can help you in that respect.
Luckily, there are many stroke support groups too that can help you navigate the challenges posed by parenting. Talking to a disabled parent (if you know any) who has already been through the experience of pregnancy, childbirth and bringing up a child can be extremely valuable.
3. Involve him/her in your treatment
You may involve your kid in supporting and caring for you. Helping with chores around the house can help children develop an understanding of responsibilities. As children feel a sense of worth from their role, they nature higher self-esteem. Involve him/her in parts of your therapy. If important, teach him/her how to handle emergencies. He/she will know how to respond if another stroke occurs.
4. Reserve fun time
Make time for your child. Include having fun as part of the routine. Joking with your kids helps set them up for social success. When parents joke, it gives young kids the tools to think creatively, make friends and manage stress.
During this time, ensure low distraction. If possible, switch off your phone. Remember, your distracted presence can take a toll on the child, who might feel less valued when your attention is divided.
5. Sign up for a playgroup
If your child craves to play with you all the time, find other ways to ensure that he remains playful even without you. Find out the types of playgroups available in your local area. Playing with other kids will help him/her de-stress.
6. Keep lines of communication open
Give your child a chance to express his/her feelings and concerns once in a while. Be open, sensitive and honest. Young children tend to blame themselves if something bad happens in a family. Tell them that no one caused the stroke and no one can be blamed for it. Use your children’s talents. You might use his/her ideas to solve problems.
7. Stay strong
It’s natural to feel low after stroke and very common to engage in negative attitude. Showcasing your helplessness may instill a sense of weakness and dependence in your kid. Never refrain from exhibiting self-determination to defeat stroke, optimism, and self-efficacy (even if you are vulnerable inside). This will save him/her from social awkwardness in the future.