3 Special Needs Resolutions for a New Year

by Dec 29, 2016How-Tos, Special Needs Parenting2 comments

These special needs resolutions for a new year are guaranteed to make parents' lives easier, rather than to stress you out!

Are you thinking of making a list of special needs resolutions before the new year begins? Guest blogger, Dr. Liz Matheis, is here with 3 resolutions guaranteed not to stress you to the max!

3 Special Needs Resolutions for a New Year

It’s the end of the year, and you as a parent, are beginning to reflect back and look at the upcoming new year. You hope it will be a better one. You hope it brings you, your family, and your child with special needs a bit more constancy than this year did.

As a parent of a child with special needs, you are likely traumatized yourself and don’t realize that you need to be kinder to yourself by engaging in more self care. Not only are you tired, but you are hard on yourself. You open up each year with big goals for your role in your family: what you will do for your child with special needs, for that child’s siblings, and perhaps for your marital relationship. Those goals are high. Maybe a little too high. Let’s try to set expectations for the upcoming new year with a bit more kindness, realism, and forgiveness.

Special Needs Resolution 1: Keep it Realistic

As you reflect on the past year, please realize that any progress that your child should have made was small but steady. That means you should compare where your child was at 6 months ago to today or even 1 year ago to where your child is today. But please don’t compare last month to today. Your child will make gains, but they may be slow without the big leaps that you hoped would be made. It’s natural to have high hopes for the expensive therapies started this year, but it’s won’t be quick.

Instead, assess and compare your child’s overall functioning every 6 months. At that point, you can decide if you’re investing in the right area. If your child has made sufficient progress, it may be time to challenge your child within the next area.

Be kind to yourself as you set your expectations, as this can serve to be stressful for both you and your child.

Special Needs Resolution 2: Do Less

When you think about investigating a different therapy for your child, how you will be better organized, prepare meals for your family, or have a cleaner home, I want you to stop.

Yes, please stop.

Please create different goals. Shift your focus from doing more to doing less. Yes, you heard me correctly. Perhaps it’s time to ask your family to take on more chores and responsibilities. Maybe it’s okay to not plan a play date, or a fun event on your child’s day off. It’s okay to spend the afternoon doing some bonding by reading a book together, snuggling on the couch while watching a movie, running errands, or making dinner. Please don’t feel like you have to make every minute of every hour count for something. Sometimes, it’s okay to keep it real and focus on doing less, which will be more beneficial in the long run.

Special Needs Resolution 3: Silence

Sounds silly, right? Who schedules silent time? Human beings require quiet time each day to decompress and allow the brain to process what has already happened. Doing so settles our thoughts and bodies so we can prepare for rest. We are not meant to be as stimulated all day long by texts, emails, activities, and appointments. A built-in quiet time allows you all to collectively be together without conversation. It also triggers creativity and problem solving. Did you ever notice that you come up with your best solutions in moments of silence? Electronics such as television, computer, iPads and iPods should not be used during quiet time as they tend to overstimulate the senses. As a family, you may want to build in 30 minutes of crossword puzzle time, reading time, time to work on a craft, knitting, or whatever will help to quiet your mind and body.

Try implementing each of these 3 special needs resolutions 1 by 1 rather than all 3 all at once. That way these special needs resolutions should reduce stress rather than increase it.

Your Special Needs Resolutions?

Have you made a resolution for the new year? Feel free to share it in the comment box.

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By Liz Matheis

Dr. Liz Matheis is a clinical psychologist and school psychologist in Parsippany, NJ. She offers support, assessments, and advocacy for children who are managing Autism Spectrum Disorders, ADHD, learning disabilities, and behavioral difficulties, as well as their families. She is also a contributor to several popular magazines. Visit www.psychedconsult.com for more information.


  1. Jolene

    That is a really good idea Jamie. Isn’t it amazing that what works for kids works for parents, too. And it’s a good example for them to see us implementing the same techniques we expect them to use, too. Jolene

  2. Jamie@TheMomGene

    Silence. Yes. I have a rule with my son to wait ten seconds after asking him anything before I ask again. Those ten seconds can feel so long, but they are worth it. I need to grant myself those ten seconds or ten minutes too.

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Meet Jolene

Jolene Philo is a published author, speaker, wife, and mother of a son with special needs.



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