5 Things to Stop Doing to Make Your Special Needs Child Healthier

5 Things to Stop Doing

When it comes to paying attention to our own health, many of us have already developed bad habits. These can range from eating too much junk food to skipping meals. They could be spending too much time watching TV or surfing the web. When you allow this to happen, you might not realize it, but it can lead to poor health for your child over time. There are a few things you can stop doing to make your special needs child healthier.

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Children turn to their parents for guidance and as an example of how they should act. It is up to you to provide your special needs child with the best possible example. You can’t afford to do anything less. Your child is going to pick up on your bad habits far faster than your good ones. This is just a fact of life and is the same for “normal” and special needs kids. The big difference is that you may find it harder for your special needs child to “unlearn” bad habits.

Here are five bad habits for child to stop doing to make your special needs child healthier:

Stop Unlimited Screen Time

TV can be a great learning tool for all children, but especially children with special needs. Signing Time, Baby Einstein, Dora the Explorer – all these and more can be great stimulants in moderation.

The problem we run into is that, after work, it’s tough to muster the energy to physically play with our children or engage with them. Sometimes – or more often than sometimes – TV, video games and mobile games become our substitutes.

If the show or game encourages physical activity or interaction, this can be helpful. However, the number one thing to do to improve your child’s health is to stop allowing unlimited screen time. Consider setting specific times of the day when they can watch TV. Alternatively, try giving them a set number of “TV hours” each day. You can work with your child to help them choose when and what to watch.

Stop Giving Food as a Reward

In American culture, it’s the norm to use food as a form of celebration. When we’re having a holiday get-together, we eat. If we do something great at work, we’re rewarded with food. It’s no wonder we continue this habit with our children, rewarding them for their good behavior with unhealthy snacks and desserts.

There’s something to be said about rewarding your children with healthy snacks. But, overall, it’s important to encourage your children to eat when they’re hungry. You should not use food or snack as a reward or form of entertainment. Doing so can lead to bad eating habits (something that is hard enough to deal with when you have a special needs child).

If you must give your child treats as rewards, try giving them healthy snacks like veggies and dip or fruit. Not only do these make tasty treats, but they are also less likely to lead to issues such as childhood obesity. This is one of the top things to do to make your special needs child healthier.

Stop Fast Food for Convenience

In a similar vein as unlimited screen time, fast food is a convenient, easy way to make sure everyone in your family eats something that they enjoy. It’s tough to get your child with special needs to try new things. If they’ve already formed a habit of eating McDonald’s every night, it can pose serious risks to their health. Habits like this can be very challenging to break.

There is absolutely nothing healthy about the foods you can find in just about any fast-food restaurant. They contain excessive calories, carbs, and fats, but they contain very little in the way of nutrition. Much like using food as a reward, feeding your child to much junk food can lead to poor health. It can also lead to an increased risk of childhood obesity that will plague them as they reach adulthood. This is one of the most important things to stop doing to make your special needs child healthier.

You might try weaning your child away from the habit of eating fast food regularly by:

  • Taking a trip to the grocery store to shop regularly for healthy foods, or
  • Trying to make your child’s favorite fast food at home, using healthier alternatives.

Stop Doing Everything for Them

Your child has developmental delays that can cause them to perform their daily tasks at a rate much slower than you’re used to. This can tempt you to do just about everything for your child. You might tie their shoes to help you get out the door faster, maybe you run out of patience and clean up their messes. This is another one of the many things you can stop doing to make your special needs child healthier.

Chances are good that your child is perfectly capable of handling these tasks, they just need more time to get them done. When you allow them to do things for themselves can boost their self-confidence and exercise their brains. It might take a little extra time. But if you build this time into your plans, you won’t feel like you must constantly rush around.

Stop Neglecting Yourself

Your children model everything they do after the things that you do. You can tell them to eat healthier and to do more physical activity all you want, but if they see you eating fast food and watching several hours of TV every night, then that’s what they’ll be inclined to do too. Take care of yourself so that you can be an example of healthy behavior for your child with special needs. You are the only one who can set the right example for your child, be sure you are doing your best at all times. Do the right thing for your child;  try these things to stop doing to make your special needs child healthier.

If you’re ready to improve your child’s health, even more, sign up for private training sessions or local group classes with Special Strong. We’re passionate about making fitness accessible for all.

Empowering Change: Stop Doing to Make Your Special Needs Child Healthier”

1. Stop Overloading Schedules: One of the most significant shifts you can make is to stop overwhelming your special needs child with a jam-packed schedule. Allow for more unstructured time that caters to their unique needs. Overloading can lead to sensory overload and heightened stress levels, so providing ample downtime fosters a healthier environment.

2. Stop Neglecting Self-Care: As a caregiver, it’s easy to prioritize your child’s needs over your own. However, neglecting your well-being can compromise your ability to provide optimal care. Stop putting self-care on the back burner; prioritize your mental and physical health to ensure you have the resilience needed for the challenges you may face.

3. Stop Relying Solely on Professionals: While professionals are essential partners in your child’s care, actively engage in their well-being beyond appointments. Stop relying solely on experts; educate yourself about your child’s condition, therapeutic techniques, and potential interventions. Becoming an informed advocate empowers you to contribute significantly to your child’s health journey.

4. Stop Ignoring Mental Health: Physical health and mental well-being are interconnected. Stop overlooking the importance of mental health for both you and your special needs child. Incorporate activities that support emotional development, consider counseling or support groups, and prioritize mental wellness as an integral part of overall health.

5. Stop Comparisons: Each special needs child is on a unique trajectory, and comparisons to others can be counterproductive. Stop measuring progress against external benchmarks and embrace your child’s individual journey. Celebrate the small victories, focus on personalized goals, and appreciate the uniqueness that makes your child exceptional. This shift in perspective fosters a positive environment that promotes their overall well-being.

How to stop doing bad habits for Children with Special Needs

Breaking bad habits can be challenging for any child, but for children with special needs, it might require extra patience, understanding, and customized strategies. Here are ways to help children with special needs overcome bad habits and develop healthier ones, fostering their growth and self-esteem.

1. Understand the Underlying Causes

First, it’s crucial to understand what triggers the bad habit. Children with special needs might engage in certain behaviors due to sensory issues, difficulty in expressing their needs, or as a way to cope with stress and anxiety. Observing when and why the behavior occurs can provide insight into what the child might be trying to communicate or what need they are trying to meet.

2. Positive Reinforcement

Focus on reinforcing good behaviors rather than punishing bad ones. Praise or reward your child when they engage in positive behavior. This could be verbal praise, a favorite activity, or a small treat. Rewards make the positive behavior more memorable and likely to be repeated.

3. Create a Structured Environment

Children with special needs often thrive in structured environments where they know what to expect. Maintaining a routine can minimize anxiety and reduce the occurrence of bad habits that arise as coping mechanisms. Visual schedules and clear, consistent rules can help maintain this structure.

4. Model Good Behavior

Children learn by imitation, so it’s important to model the behavior you want to see in your child. For instance, if you want your child to learn to calm themselves in a healthy way, show them how you take deep breaths when you’re upset.

5. Offer Alternatives

Instead of just telling your child to stop a particular behavior, offer them a suitable alternative. For example, if your child has a habit of biting, provide them with a chew toy that is safe and acceptable to bite. This meets their need while steering them away from the bad habit.

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