Teen’s Tips for Raising Confident and Independent Children

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a man in a power wheelchair smiling

As a young adult, Abdi’s loving parents have helped to shape him into a confident and independent person. Growing up with cerebral palsy, Abdi has some perspectives on how parents can support their children with disabilities, so that they “are safe, happy and as independent as possible.”

The value of love

Abdi’s parents helped him grow into an independent young adult. They were active in finding resources for Abdi, such as equipment and support services. In addition, as Abdi got older, they allowed him to take on more responsibility, such as booking his own transportation. This helped foster a sense of independence in Abdi. And throughout Abdi’s life, his parents have provided him with unconditional love. 

“Your kids can probably tell by what you do and how you talk to them that you love them, but I think it’s a good idea if you tell your child every day that you love them.”

Abdi’s experiences with his parents have also shown him how parents can further support their children in becoming more confident adults.

Tips for parents

Expand your child's social circle.

His own parents are protective and cautious of him making friends. “They don’t always feel comfortable letting me make my own decisions when it comes to my social life,” he says. However, friends are essential, and in Abdi’s case, his friends “make [him] laugh and make [him] happy to come to school every day.” Parents should allow children to be more outgoing and give them more freedom to build solid friendships.

Engage them on their future plans.

Abdi has concerns that "[his] parents don’t think that [he’s] going to have a career or be able to continue [his] education after high school.” His parents do not ask him about his plans, one of which is to “live independently.” Asking children with disabilities about their future goals enables them to realize that they can strive for bigger dreams in life.

“So please, talk to your kids and teens about what they want to do when they grow up and finish school. Help them dream."

Remain calm.

Encourage you child not to shy away from asking for help. Abdi observed that his parents usually panic when he gets into accidents when driving his power wheelchair. “It makes me feel upset,” he says, “and that makes me more likely to have an accident, because I’m anxious about what they’ll say.” If parents remain calm and assure their children that it is okay to ask for assistance, everyone can relax. 

“My message to kids with disabilities is that their disability shouldn’t stop them from their dreams and aspirations. Keep on fighting and never give up. Stay positive—that attitude always helped me work hard and become a better person,” Abdi shares.

“I want you to take a look at your child and smile and tell them you love them. To me that is the best way to stand alongside your child with a disability and to make sure that your child is safe, happy and as independent as possible.”

Share this post with other parents of children with disabilities to remind them of the important role they have to play in building up their children’s confidence and independence!

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