Helping young people rise above the pressures of daily life is more important now than ever. Around the world, at least 1 in 10 children and young people are affected by mental health conditions. Those with intellectual disabilities are 4 to 5 times more likely to develop mental health issues. The pain of labels, social stigma, rejection and abuse can tip people over the edge. How can you help your child develop resilience and thrive amidst adversity? Parents of Special Olympics athletes share their experiences on how they raised resilient children.
- Provide them space to discover their talents
“I’m so proud of my child. It’s never crossed my mind to hide him from the world. Get to know him and you’ll realize how kind, sociable, fun and loving he is,” says Marcia Lai of her son, Filmer, who was shunned by people because of his intellectual disability.
When Marcia discovered Filmer’s love for cakes, she decided to teach him to bake instead of simply buying him desserts. They experimented with recipes at home, and shared their cakes with friends and relatives. Filmer has a disability with his left hand, and struggled with tasks like cutting fruits, cracking an egg or folding the batter. Marcia sourced suitable equipment to help him with these tasks. After years of practice and encouragement, Filmer is now a confident and competent baker. What started as a hobby has even grown into a full-fledged online business known as Filmer’s Chiffon Cakes.
- Allow them to fight their own battles
Akiko and Chips Guevara give their 5-year-old daughter Sachiko, who has Down Syndrome, the same opportunities and experiences as her two older brothers.
“Noah and Elijah are typical boys and play rough with each other. They don’t treat Sachiko any differently. In fact, she is totally able to hold her own, and sometimes we find Elijah crying because she had bitten him or pounced on him,” says Akiko. “The boys are her best friends and therapy. She sees them climb the bunk bed and just follows right behind. They are really good brothers to her, though I think in the end, she may be the ‘boss’!”
- Be a positive role model
Noraini Amin wants her youngest daughter Hadbaa, who has Down Syndrome, to have the courage to pursue her passions, no matter what others say. She teaches Hadbaa resilience by setting a good example, and not reacting emotionally to naysayers.
“I remember an incident when we were in an elevator with a young couple with a child. Hadbaa was only 3. The child pointed at Hadbaa and said, ‘Why does she look like that? What’s wrong with her?’ I was shocked when the parents turned away from us quite rudely, and told the child not to look at Hadbaa. I stared at them in silence, not knowing what to say,” recalls Noraini. “Hadbaa’s siblings were indignant and furious, but I told them not to retaliate. It would affect Hadbaa. These days, we ignore all these stares and whispers. I refuse to let the judgment of others affect how we live our lives.”
We celebrate all parents who teach their children never to give up, standing strong while fighting for a more inclusive world. Support us in our cause, and find out how you can be an ally by following @humanraceasia and @soasiapacific.