The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Parents Raising Children with Special Needs
The 7 Habits
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People written by Stephen Covey. Self-help bestselling author whose books have sold in excess of 20 million copies in 40 languages, inspired me when I was starting out in the business world. After re-reading “ The 7 Habits,” I could not help but to see the parallelism for parents raising children with special needs.
1. Be Proactive
This should speak volumes to parents raising children with special needs. Be proactive; recognize that you are “response-able” to help make a better life for your child. It is most definite that you will probably have to do things outside of the normal. Translation: think outside the box. Educate yourself on your child’s disability. Do your homework. Research. Familiarize yourself with services available to you and your child.
2. Begin with the end in mind.
This is based on imagination. What kind of life do you envision for your child as an adult? Imagine them going to college, living independently, having a social life. Imagine a great, world changing….and then see every detail through to the end. Develop a plan, path or road map to your child’s future and work towards the plan.
3. Put first things first.
Remember to try “to live a more balanced existence, you have to recognize that not doing everything that comes along is okay.” Life management — it is okay to not do everything that comes along. Set priorities for the “day to day” and long term, so you can live a more balanced life. Try to maintain a sense of normalcy. Don’t forget other family members or others in your life.
4. Think win-win.
The phrase “win-win” may be ubiquitous today, but it’s likely popularity came from Covey’s fourth habit, which means “agreements or solutions are mutually beneficial and satisfying.” Think “Win-Win” every time you are negotiating. Which can be almost daily when advocating on your child’s behalf. Keep the “win-win” habit in mind when working towards solutions or agreements that will be both mutually beneficial and satisfying.
5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood.
Seek first to understand, then to be understood. This habit can be used in all areas of our children’s lives. We need to become good listeners to our children, which may require more intent observation to their behaviors, schedules and activities in order to understand and respond appropriately, not just respond! This habit encourages helping our children to be understood better in their daily lives.
“Synergize” assemble and build a winning and diverse teamof all-stars. Choose, not only, the right doctors, therapists, teachers, aides, tutors, and coaches, but also, family and friends that will be effective in helping your child reach their potential.
7. Sharpen the saw
Sharpen the saw…you are your child’s best advocate. You must find ways to preserve, enhance and renew yourself on a daily basis. Without you where will your child be?
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This article originally appeared in 2012 on Parentingspecialneeds.org, two days after we learned of the passing of Stephen Covey.