Episcopal Center for Children, a Treatment and Special Education Center in DC, Offers Advice for Parents and Guardians for National Stress Awareness Month

WASHINGTON– Parenting a child with special needs can be stressful for parents and guardians. The Episcopal Center for Children (ECC), a nonprofit organization providing mental health and special education services to children ages 5-14 in the greater Washington, DC area, offers tips to help caregivers manage their stress.

“I have met many parents and guardians who care deeply about their child and want to do everything possible to help them. But that desire and the challenges that face families of children with special needs can result in stress. Over time, stress takes a toll on you and your family and it can even lead to health problems for the parent or guardian,” said Dodd White, president and CEO of ECC. Here are the tips to help parents, guardians and caregivers:

Tip #1 – Take a little time for yourself. A small indulgence at home – like making a special pot of tea, a chat with a friend or family member, or a manicure can do a lot to lower stress.

Tip #2 – Get out of the house. Go out with friends, get a cup of coffee, or see a movie by yourself — whatever you enjoy. If you can’t make it every week, make it every other week.

Tip #3 – Join a support group. Try to find a support group for parents of children with special needs in your area or start a group. Online support groups allow you to participate from home and eliminate the need for childcare.

Tip #4 – Learn and use mindfulness techniques. Breathing techniques, quiet reflection, and meditation can help you focus on the moment and accept your own feelings, thoughts, and sensations.

Tip #5 – Get in touch with your faith. If you are part of a religious faith, you may find support in prayer, study or activities. Online study and prayer groups can also nurture faith connections.

Tip #6 – Read a book. Pick something enjoyable that is not related to parenting or your child’s condition. The public library has lots of options and many loan audiobooks and e-books too.

Tip #7 – Get some extra sleep. Go to bed early. Take a nap while your spouse or a friend takes the rest of the family out for a few hours.

Tip #8 – Start a journal or create an art collage journal. Writing can release stress and help you contemplate your situation. Get a journal to write in that makes you happy, or make an art journal that helps you express yourself.

Tip #9 – Get some exercise. Go outside and go for a walk. Join a gym or ask a friend to be your running or walking buddy. Try a new sport or pick up an old one. Check out an exercise DVD from the library or find some videos on YouTube.

Tip #10 – Pay attention to what you eat. Eating nutritiously can make a big difference in your mood. Try to eat nutritious meals. Resources are available at www.choosemyplate.gov.

About the Episcopal Center for Children
The Episcopal Center for Children (Center) is a nonprofit, nondenominational school and treatment program for children contending with emotional challenges from the greater Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. Accredited by the Joint Commission, the Center serves children who are 5-14 years old in grades K-8. The goal of the Center’s treatment, therapeutic milieu, and individualized special education program is to empower each child to function productively within his or her family and community. Building on strengths within children, the Center partners with families in treatment and focuses on enabling its students to access and become their best possible selves. More information is available at eccofdc.org and on Twitter and Facebook @ECCofDC.

Media contact: Ami Neiberger-Miller, 703.887.4877, [email protected].