November 5, 2020

When I began teaching and still in my “green” phase, I was confronted by students exhibiting with meltdowns, oppositional outbursts, lack of motivation and a variety of behaviors that were entirely foreign to me.  These instances gave me pause and a new kind of stress to respond equal to the task.   I was now a “professional” and I was the one who was supposed to have the answers…but, I didn’t.  How can anyone know the best way to solve a crisis without an accumulative set of experiences that were yet to be realized? Read all you want. Listen to varying opinions. In the end, it comes down to you and your gut.

I want you to imagine a young man equipped with both a Masters degree in Special Education and two years working as an assistant teacher at the same school where he would eventually teach, being as green as a Crayola when the rubber hit the road and he was now the person in charge. And then recognize how it makes mountains of sense that you as a parent, with absolutely NO background, intention, foreknowledge or plan for being a parent of a child with special needs, would be even LESS prepared for what was to come. So, forgive yourself your natural unawareness, self-doubt and humanness.


So, what was it that ultimately got me to a place of understanding which would allow me to manage the challenges of my job with confidence? In my opinion, there is only one true measure and tool for success with our children; that is the relationship we create with them. And this is healthiest when we are mindful of who we are in relation to ourselves and children and respectful of who they are as their unique selves.

MINDFUL or CONSCIOUS PARENTING begins with an understanding of yourself.  It is informed by your relationship to you.  To gain the confidence and experience that would lead to professional  success for me, I had to work at allowing a deeper acknowledgement of who I was; in my mind and in my heart, with respect to my kids, when I entered into their world.  And this took years.

When I realized that I had an ability to connect with kids and gain their trust it was due to the fact that I was gaining in self-trust.  As I grew, I was aware of trying to let go of presumptions, standards, expectations and, greatest of all, demands.  Again, this took a long time. Years of deciphering what worked and what didn’t. Years of honing my skills and comprehension.  And, years of constant reflection. Did I judge myself along the way? Was I hard on myself? Absolutely.

I cared and wanted to do my best.  And I know that is what you want for yourself and your child. And in order to be successful, I suggest that we open to being mindful.

Mindfulness is: “The practice of living in the moment. Where you are in the world, what you’re thinking, and how you’re feeling on the inside and out. “ …“Looking at the world with less judgment and more acceptance. “  Ashley Marcin

Mindful Parenting  is the practice of responding thoughtfully and not with a knee jerk, emotional reaction to your child’s behaviors. …“It’s about accepting whatever is going on, rather than trying to change it or ignore it.”  The Gottman Institute

As I infuse mindful parenting into this and future writing, I recommend that you research it further. The authors and blogs I reference here are excellent sources for going deeper than I can in one blog post.  Shefali Tsabary is a PhD and has a book, “ The Conscious Parent.” I recommend it.

Why do I favor Mindful Parenting?  Because as a teacher, without knowing of it’s concept, I naturally evolved to it’s tenants.  I want to introduce it to you, or remind you of it, in order to give yourself space to grow.  I hope for you that you will not judge yourself for your innocent, initial parental missteps.  And, I hope for you, that you will accept or come to accept, who your child is as a sovereign being.

Mindful parenting a child with special needs, like all things special needs, requires adaptions and interpretations.  But knowing what to do for your child is common to all parents. How you choose to approach your child mindfully, is universal. You, as the parent, can make a conscious decision to allow your children to lead by recognizing their capabilities and limitations and by not forcing your will upon them.  When we try to fulfill our unfed ego through our children we tend to fail them by being unable to connect with them.  Children do not belong to us. They are not here to meet our needs.  They are not here to fulfill our wants, hopes and desires.

Children must be allowed to lead, to the degree that they are physically, emotionally and mentally able.  There are thoughts, hopes and desires no matter the depth of involvement from a disability; from a stoke of the hair to feel loved and relaxed, to wearing a favorite Disney princess dress, to watching the same ten second snippet of “Shawn the Sheep” a hundred times.

We must allow our children to tell us who they are.

Developing the ability to listen begins with ourselves; start with you. The bad news, for lack of a better word, is that as a parent of a child with special needs, this requires a greater effort because of the disabilities demands. The great news is that the resulting connection to your child will be worth every second.

In future blogs I will speak to healthy outlets for you to engage in which will go a long way towards mindfully meeting yourself where you are and reacquaint yourself with the idea that you matter as much as anyone…because you do!

We are learning all of the time; whether we know it or not.  It does not stop once we become adults.  But if we are open and aware to this fact then we have the potential for exponential growth. I suggest that being mindful and staying open to learning is our responsibility as caregivers. It is the only way towards respecting our children as independent thinkers and life sources, and  developing and achieving strong relationships with them. Your child can be a source of your growth.  “A fully conscious parent respects kids as individuals in their own right. As much as we are here to teach our children, they are here to teach us.” Shefali Tsabary


by Alfie Kohn

  1. Be reflective.
  2. Reconsider your requests.
  3. Stay focused on your long-term goals.
  4. Put your relationship first.
  5. Change how you see, not just how you act.
  6. R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
  7. Be authentic.
  8. Talk less, ask more.
  9. Be mindful of your child’s age.
  10. Attribute to children the best possible motive consistent with the facts.
  11. Don’t stick to no’s unnecessarily.
  12. Don’t be rigid.
  13. Don’t be in a hurry.

“Once you accept your children’s basic nature, you can contour your style to meet their temperament. To do so means letting go of your fantasies of yourself as a certain kind of parent and instead evolving into the parent you need to be for the particular child in front of you.”
― Shefali Tsabary, The Conscious Parent: Transforming Ourselves, Empowering Our Children

“to enter into a state of pure connection with your child, you can achieve this by setting aside any sense of superiority.”
― Shefali Tsabary, The Conscious Parent

 Peace and Keep Rising


So much to talk about!  I have several topics that I will be covering in the coming blogs but I want to invite you to ask for feedback on something that is of interest to you or ask a question you might have. Leave your suggestion, question or thoughts in the contact section.  I look forward to hearing from you!


Published by riseup20

I am a retired teacher with a creative bent and I am excited to bring attention and assistance to parents and caregivers of children with special needs. Mark

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