Did you read my last blog post? If you did, awesome! Here’s the second part, the “how to” section.
If you didn’t read it, no worries! You can find the blog post right here.
Here’s a quote that summarizes my last post nicely:
“This mindset is not just about whether you like having a disability or not. It’s about whether you have a mindset of low self-esteem, blame, and getting stuck, or a mindset of self-acceptance, gratitude, and growth.”
But the question is, how do you help your kid develop a growth mindset? That seems like a tall order, right?
Think back for a minute to what your own parents said to you growing up. Is there anything they often said that now pops into your head from time to time? For me, I remember that whenever I was depressed, my mom would tell me, “It’s all about your mind. You have to tell yourself to be happy.” To this day, whenever I slip back towards depression, I remember this. It’s like she created a soundtrack in my head and whenever I am depressed, this is what I hear.
So I’m going to lead you through how you can create that soundtrack for them. But first, it’s going to require two major mindset shifts of your own.
The first major mindset shift you need to make is around your own view of your child’s disability. This can be very confronting for some people. Most of us have never questioned our beliefs around disability before. I went through the same thing with my sister’s disability; "You mean it doesn’t have to be a bad thing? But everyone tells me it’s so awful I’ve had to go through this. And some days it really sucks. Life isn’t exactly a walk in the park, you know?”
But what if we questioned this belief that disability is inherently bad in your life? What if instead we asked: How has your child’s disability improved both your life and theirs?
Think about the gifts it has given both you and your child. Patience? Understanding? Creativity? Love? If you really dig deep, there is something you’ve gained from it, and they have too.
What’s one good thing that’s happened to you because of your child’s disability?
What’s one good thing that’s happened to your child because of their disability?
Now, it’s time to create that soundtrack. The best way to do this, is to notice when things come up and mention it to them. “You were so patient there, I think your [insert disability here] has really helped you with that,” or “ I’m so much more understanding than I used to be, you have taught me that.”
How can you bring up good things about you?
How can you bring up good things about your child?
Second, you need to examine your own differences. One of the realities of being a non-disabled parent is that you can’t provide an example of how to have pride in your disability, simply because you don’t have one. (For more on people who can provide that, click here!) But what can you do is demonstrate pride in the things that made you different.
What don’t you like about yourself? Or what have you experienced that you didn’t like?
Now think about what those differences and difficulties in your life have taught you. What have you gained from them? Have you learned a lot of self-love techniques from that self-hatred? Did you learn about self-respect from that bad relationship? Did you learn mindfulness from that difficult bout with your mental health?
What is one trait that makes you different and what is one positive thing about it?
What is one difficult time you’ve been through and what is one positive thing about it?
Now comes the same work from before, creating that soundtrack. How can you bring up these differences to your child?
Bring all of those things up for your child to hear. Remember, doing these things once doesn’t have much of an effect, but sprinkle these little reminders in here and there throughout a child’s life, and poof! Suddenly they become 18 and have a whole list of recordings in their head that plays whenever something similar happens.
What do you want the soundtrack in your child’s head to say? Let me know in the comments below!