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Parenting Impossible – The Special Needs Survival Podcast

Dec 3, 2020

The holiday season can be stressful enough without a global pandemic adding to an already tense situation. In this episode of Parenting Impossible, Dr. Rebecca Branstetter shares her tips to help parents and school psychologists manage stress in healthy ways in front of kids. 

Whether your children are stressed about school, the loss of traditions or the holidays, their negative emotions towards those times can take a toll on their mental health. But more than providing information to parents and professionals to improve mental health, Dr. Branstetter wants to bring transformation to schools and homes. 

In the midst of these trying times, she recommends using these three hidden blessings as teaching moments for yourself and your kids: 

  1. Teach Empathy 
  2. Teach Flexibility 
  3. Teach Self-Compassion 

Many children who are facing stress either act out or internalize their emotions. You can teach them empathy by co-regulating the situation; you have the power to bring calm to the chaos. Unstructured time can be challenging, especially for children with disabilities. You can ask them to sketch themselves in their imagined future (ex: their ideal holiday season) and then help them manage their expectations. Thirdly, you can only help your child through their stress if you take care of yourself in your stress. You should practice self-compassion through your behavior to show your child how to respond to stress as well. 

If your child is especially stressed about the new format of online school, reach out to your school psychologist to create a working partnership for the betterment of your child. They may feel bogged down in case after case due to the unfortunate cycle of their role, but these professionals want to help your child reach their full potential. 

In addition to reaching out for support to help your child, you should make sure that you are taking care of yourself. Dr. Branstetter says, “When you find you are criticizing yourself, add the phrase ‘in a global pandemic to the end of it.’” This practice puts everything in perspective and adds context to your current stress. 

You can download Dr. Branstetter’s free resource for parents and professionals at the bottom of this page, and you can join Annette’s Facebook group, “Circle of Care” for more information and support. 

You are not alone in your stress this holiday season. 

Annette Hines has been practicing in the areas of Special Needs, Elder Law, and Estate Planning for more than 20 years. Ms. Hines brings personal experience with special needs to her practice and podcasts as the mother of two daughters, one of whom passed away from Mitochondrial disease in November 2013. This deep, personal understanding of special needs fuels her passion for quality special needs planning and drives her dedication to help others within the special needs community.