Parental Resources for Students with Emotional Impairments

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

As a special educator who works with students with emotional impairments, one of your important jobs is providing support to parents. This lesson discusses some resources that will help the parents of students in your class.

Why Parents Need Resources

Rachel is a special educator who works with students with emotional impairments in a self-contained setting, where they learn and grow separately from their typically developing peers.

For the last few years, Rachel has been focusing on improving her ability to meet her students' academic, social, and emotional needs. She feels good about her professional capacities in these realms.

However, now Rachel is starting to notice that her students' parents are often floundering. It can be really challenging to parent a child with emotional impairments. Behaviors can be difficult, it is common to feel guilty, worried, and even angry, and many parents might feel very stressed about their children's futures.

Rachel can see that to help her students continue to grow, she also needs to help their parents. She starts learning more about the different resources available for parents of students with emotional impairments.

Supports for Behavior

First of all, Rachel knows that many of her students have very difficult behaviors. They might engage in frequent tantrums, tend toward oppositional behavior, and even get aggressive and violent toward themselves and others. The following suggestions can be very helpful to parents when it comes to these behaviors:

  • Remain as consistent as possible in your response to problem behaviors. Explain to children what is expected of them, and follow through with predetermined consequences when they act out.
  • When possible, name and address the feeling behind a behavior. Tell a child, 'You must be very angry right now' to teach them, gradually, to use words, rather than feelings to express their behaviors.
  • If you feel like you might get violent, take a break. Make sure your child is safe, and leave them alone in a room while you calm yourself down.
  • Use positive reinforcement systems like behavior charts and simple rewards to encourage the behaviors you do want to see.
  • Try to prevent difficult behaviors before they occur by avoiding triggers such as overstimulation, hunger, and fatigue when possible.
  • Remain in consistent communication with your child's teacher, therapists, and other support providers about the behaviors that are concerning you.
  • Make sure your child knows that you love him, even when you are angry and frustrated about his behavior.

Supports for Communication

Some of the parents of Rachel's students have told her that they are also struggling to communicate with their children. This can be for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, emotional impairments are comorbid with language delays and difficulties. Other times, students with emotional impairments may shut down or seem unwilling to listen to their parents. Rachel recommends the following strategies:

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