Confidence is not a parenting skill parents are born with, but rather a skill that is learned over time. Being the parent of a child with autism can challenge our confidence, but you must understand that this skill is vital in helping your children live better lives.
When you show your children that you are confident, as parents, you make them feel safe. Each child needs to feel that their parents can help them express themselves and handle everything thrown in their direction.
The diagnosis of autism, of course, will change your life and the way you will parent. But it will also give you added motivation to fight for your child and the life he/she deserves to live. You will not always have the answers and there will be plenty of times when you will have to show yourself as confident, despite feeling lost, confused or scared.
How do you become a more confident autism parent?
We have a couple of suggestions for you. The message to take home is: confidence is not necessarily always having a response to a certain situation. It is more about being there for your child, no matter what, and especially when he/she is having a hard time.
Even though this is not necessarily an autism parenting secret, it is something we often forget. Living with autism, and the sometimes difficult behaviours presented by a child with this diagnosis, it is easy for parents to fall into a path of negative thinking and lose confidence along the way.
Positive thinking, on the other hand, can help you to become more confident in your skills and your parenting abilities. It can be useful when it comes to the way you respond to challenging situations.
You are not a bad parent
Every parent has been there. You felt inadequate, believing that your children deserve better parents. Just because your child has autism, does not mean you are a bad parent.
Whenever you feel terrible, like you have failed your child, remember this – children need love above all else. They need us to be present and show them how to live in a world that seems foreign.
Do not be afraid to ask for help
If you feel like your confidence has been shattered, it is time to get help. This can come from a family member, a friend or even a mental health professional. You might find help in joining an autism parent support group. Your child most likely benefits from therapy, so you should not hesitate to use this form of support as well. Respite might represent an option for you, so that you can have some time for yourself. In time, you will become a more confident parent, one who is calm and supportive of his/her child.
Don’t bend to peer pressure
Autistic children have meltdowns and tantrums, and these often take place in public. If possible, try to go home or choose a private place to help your child calm down. Do not allow others to dictate what you should do, and keep in mind that getting the child out of the respective environment will be quite useful. All children have tantrums, and it just happens that it’s your child’s turn today. Many parents are kind and empathetic in these situations, so just ignore the ones who aren’t!
A lot of parents make the mistake of thinking that they must always find a solution to a potential challenging situation the child is going through. Sometimes, this only adds pressure, causing your confidence to go down.
Instead of forcing yourself to come up with an answer, try to be there for your child. Do not let your confidence suffer, but rather offer your physical presence and this should be enough. Help your child calm down by being calm yourself.
Control your emotions
It goes without saying that no two children are the same, especially when they are autistic. Anger can only damage your confidence, since it will cause you to feel out of control. If the situation seems impossible to handle, it might be best to take a step back. Always try to acknowledge your emotions, but without giving into them.
What does an autistic child need? A confident parent! It might take time and you will make plenty of mistakes along the way, but you need to work on becoming more self-reliant. The bolder you are, the easier it will be to become the advocate your child needs for a better life.