Whether a child is an athlete or one who preferred staying home with video games, there is no doubt that adjusting to a wheelchair will be challenging. It is difficult for adults with well-honed coping skills to face the fact that they have limited mobility, so you may imagine how hard it may be for children who feel things so acutely without the benefit of experience. Try these tips to help your child make this transition as painlessly as possible.
Find Mentors for Your Child
While the internet has made parenting a modern child more difficult in many ways, it offers some priceless benefits. For one thing, you can easily sign online and find people all over the world who share interests and common ground. You can find other kids online who happen to also rely on a wheelchair to get around. Supervise your child and allow them to participate in online forums with other kids in wheelchairs. Your child may find great solace in asking their peers questions that they don't want to ask adults.
In addition to allowing your child to connect with others with disabilities online, you may also find an in-person mentor for your child. The Paralyzed Veterans of America reported how adults who are in a wheelchair can mentor young children who also rely on a wheelchair for mobility. Seeing adults who are living life to the fullest from their position in a wheelchair can inspire kids to do the same.
Show Your Child That Good Times Continue
When a child learns that they are going to be in a wheelchair, they may be devastated. It's not uncommon for a child to feel like their life as they know it is ruined, and the truth is that their life has changed forever. Be sure to encourage your child to accept the reality of the situation while pointing out many ways that they can continue to enjoy hobbies in a whole new way. For example, if your child loves Halloween, being in a wheelchair doesn't mean that their festivities are over. You can instead create costumes that creatively address the wheelchair. For example, you may turn the wheelchair into Cinderella's coach or place panels to represent a car over the wheelchair. Let your creativity shine.
Encourage Your Child to Express Their Feelings
It's a smart idea to take your child to therapy when they're facing this difficult life change. While it is true that many kids are resilient, addressing the emotional needs of your child during what may be the most difficult time in their lives is extremely important. In addition to taking the child to therapy, try to discuss your child's feelings on an ongoing basis. They may be hesitant to fully share dark feelings at first but are likely to come around with your caring persistence that they deal with the pain.