Sunday, April 21, 2013

Dare To Do Your Best: See It Big, But Keep It Simple - Part I

By George M. Graham Jr.

Stephen R. Covey, in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, refers to human nature as being four dimensional. He identifies the four dimensions as body, mind, heart, and spirit. As parents, we should endeavor to address our children’s needs and wants in each of these four dimensions of human nature. This will help our children to become well-balanced and more prepared for all aspects of life.

In my previous article, I talked about all children having basic needs and wants that must be addressed in order for them to be able to grow, develop, and become successful. In this article, we will specifically be looking at some of the basic positive, practical practices that parents can implement to help their children. These practices, along with those that will be shared in the next several articles, will address ways of impacting the four dimensions of body, mind, heart, and spirit.

Before we move into the positive, practical practices, I would like to focus on the first hurdle that parents of children with disabilities must overcome. It is the hurdle of the initial discovery that their child has a disability. Parents may experience one of many possible emotional reactions to this discovery. One of the factors that may impact their reaction may be the severity of the disability and/or the type of disability the child may have.

Parents may become increasingly aware of something being different or unusual about their child. They may observe that their child is struggling academically, or behaving in a fashion that would be considered as beyond the ordinary type of behavior, or possibly the child may have something physically going on that is obviously not quite right. When they are finally able to find an answer to their growing concern, some parents experience the emotional reaction of being very relieved.

It is not relief in knowing their child has a disability, but they are relieved to finally know the cause of the problem they have observed. This scenario can be compared to a person who has been suffering certain physical symptoms and is not sure what may be the cause of the symptoms. The person may spend hours being worried and concerned about all the possible things that could be wrong. Once the doctor makes a diagnosis and the cause is known, the person has a feeling of relief. Sometimes it is the “not knowing” that causes a great amount of stress and concern. Even if the illness may be serious, it is finally having an answer and knowing the cause that can reduce the stress and concern.

For other parents the reaction can be that of the emotion of grief. They may initially ask themselves questions like: Why is this happening to me? What have I done to deserve this? Why is this happening to my child?

We have all had to deal with grief to some degree or another. It can be compared to what you may have experienced when you have lost a loved one. This can cause deep emotional wounds, and a person cannot experience real happiness until the wounds are healed. Therefore, it may entail a process of moving through the five stages of grief.

The first stage is the stage of denial, when you are in disbelief and experiencing numbness to the situation. The second stage would be anger, when you are blaming others for what has happened. The third stage is bargaining, when you are begging wishing, and praying for this situation to change or be different. The fourth stage is depression, when you are in a depressed state and experiencing sadness and/or crying. The fifth stage is acceptance, where you can finally come to terms with the situation and move on.

It is possible that parents may experience some overlapping or a combination of these stages at the same time. Another possibility is that they may become fixated on one stage for an extended period of time before being able to move through the process. In some very extreme cases, parents may get stuck in one of these five stages and never be able to overcome that stage. In any of these possible scenarios it is important to remember that it will take time for the healing process to occur.

No matter what may be the reaction to the initial discovery of their child having a disability, parents come to the point of saying, "OK, now what do we do? They will need assistance in seeking out help and support for their child. Even as important as getting help for their child, they will need help and support for themselves. There are many organizations and support groups available to parents that can assist them to find help and get the support they need.

Parents need to know that there is always hope! They need to know there are others who understand, who empathize with them, and who care! They need to know they can get help for their child and themselves.They need to know there are steps that they can take to help their child!

One of the most basic positive, practical practices that a parent can implement is to ensure that their child gets sufficient sleep. Unfortunately, in our hectic, fast paced society people tend to forget the importance of sleep. Research has documented the seriousness of sleep deprivation and the impact it has on adults as well as on children.

Many children simply do not get the proper rest that they need. Their little bodies need time to rejuvenate and restore themselves while they are sleeping. It has been proven that chronic sleep loss can contribute to some serious health problems as well as contribute to irritability and behavior issues.

There are differences of opinion as to what constitutes the proper amount of sleep that an individual needs. It is true that it may vary from individual to individual. However, many sources agree that children ages 3-6 need from 10 to 12 hours of sleep per night. Children ages 6-9 need approximately 10 hours per night. Children ages 9 through their teens need approximately 9 hours per night.

It is amazing the difference that can be observed when a child is getting the proper amount of sleep on a consistent basis. They can perform better in every way. More importantly it will improve their quantity and quality of life.

In Part II of this article, we will be looking at additional positive, practical practices and the importance of incorporating these into daily living (habits.) Mastering these basics can be life changing for anyone who chooses to pursue them.


  1. Great GRIEF article, so true. Teacher empathy and understanding promotes connections with parents. When movement through stages is arrested, it is clear that other help or "supports" are necessary, in situations. Worry will not help the problem(s)one may face tomorrow, but it will ruin happiness today. Specific strategies (such as ensuring adequate, quality sleep) are concrete ways to set-up children for success in daily living.
    Thanks, George!