In the United States, statistics have shown that about 6,000 babies each year (about 1 in 700) is born with Down Syndrome. The average child with Down syndrome usually has low muscle tone, a small stature and other telling physical characteristics due to a chromosomal abnormality.
It’s true that each child with Down syndrome is different. What does that mean if you’re a parent raising a child with Down syndrome? It means you should do all you can to help them learn about the world around them. Educate them, give them space to experience things, learn independence, learn new skills and learn appropriate behaviors.
If you’re a parent raising a child with Down syndrome, here are some tips that can help you and your child understand each other better:
- Educate yourself: If you’re a parent raising a child with Down syndrome, one of the absolute best things you can do for yourself and for your child is to learn all that you can about Down syndrome and Down syndrome education. It’s often said that knowledge is power and the more you know, the easier things will be. You can do online research, go to the library and check out books or even talk to other parents who have children with Down syndrome. Chances are they’ve experienced some of the same things your family is experiencing and can give you some invaluable information.
- Shower your child with love: If you’re a parent raising a child with Down syndrome, one of the best things you can do is shower them with love. Show them love all the time and provide and warm and comforting environment at home. How do you show them that love? You do the same things any parent would: spend time with them, take them on outings, play with them. For kids with Down syndrome, the world isn’t always the most welcoming place and by being there for them, they can learn to look to you for love and support.
- Let them learn: All kids, whether they have Down syndrome or not, need to learn how to figure things out for themselves at times. If a child doesn’t something wrong, show them how to do it correctly and encourage them to keep trying. Offer positive reinforcement when they do a good job. One of the best ways you can have a child with Down syndrome learn is with household chores. They can learn the importance of cleaning and they can get more comfortable with their home environment and learn new skills as they clean. It’s often the case that kids with Down syndrome are visual learners, so you can show them how to do something and then have them try it on their own.
- Support their independence: Kids with Down syndrome usually have some kind of cognitive delay, but they can still learn independence. If you are parenting a child with Down syndrome, you can teach and encourage them to do simple things like getting dressed and practicing good hygiene, all while offering positive reinforcement.
- Help them with school work: When it comes to learning, your child with Down syndrome can be helped extra if you can find ways to take what their learning at school and apply it at home. You can talk to your child’s teacher and have them help you figure out ways to apply lessons your child has learned. By doing this, you’re encouraging learning and staying active in your child’s education.
Even if your child has a cognitive delay, you shouldn’t hesitate to help them set goals and expectations. If you do this, be sure you’re reasonable about the goals. If your child is overstimulated, remove some of the stimuli. If they struggle with a certain subject or assignment, show them what they need to do. Again, kids with Down syndrome are more visual learners.
By encouraging your child with Down syndrome to learn, helping them learn and grow, giving them room to gain independence and showing them lots of love all the time, a kid with Down Syndrome can learn to understand and to navigate the world around them and live a healthy, normal life.