Being a parent or carer to a child with special needs is a challenge but can be an extremely rewarding experience. Schools have programmes set up to support children with special education needs (SEN), and provide support for parents. However, once school is finished and the child is back home, a parent may find it a difficult situation to manage. Continue reading our guide filled with SEN advice for parents, which can help make life that little bit easier.

Challenges of being a parent to an SEN child

Being a parent to a child with special education needs can be very difficult at times. There are usual challenges for parenting but SEN adds another layer of obstacles for many parents.

Parents of children with SEN face many challenges, including understanding your child’s disability and needs, as well as being aware of the type of support available to your child and how to access it.

Researching, locating and accessing effective treatments and resources can also be a challenge for parents, whilst also coping with the emotional and physical demands of their care is another.

Another thing many people do not consider when it comes to children with additional needs is the support and care that needs to be paid for that is not covered by the school curriculum.

Being a parent of a child with SEN can be stressful. Many parents may experience worry about their future and guilt towards other siblings, as well as having to adjust to raising a child with additional needs that requires support they did not envisage.

SEN advice for parents

Parents of SEN children often have very little time for themselves and are exhausted from the constant care they give. This can occasionally lead to some parents experiencing depression due to their inability to refuel and find time for self-care. Caring for a child with special needs can also be a toll on a spousal relationship and even affect a parent’s social relationship too.

To make a home situation easier on a parent, we have pieces of advice that can hopefully help. In a bid to find more time for themself, a parent may find the below helpful when caring for their SEN child.

  • Try to give positive feedback rather than anything negative. Try to speak quietly and softly and always try to avoid shouting.
  • Don’t always assume that the child is being ‘naughty’.
  • Always try to reward and praise the child after displaying good behaviour.
  • Ensure key needs are met. Some children’s behaviour can spiral when they’re hungry, for example.
  • Always try to remain patient and calm, even if you feel anything but.
  • Never worry about asking for help. It’s available to you either in the form of professional care or family.
  • Keep any instructions short and clear, and try to incorporate visual aids into conversation or teachings.
  • Try to help others understand why your child is displaying a certain behaviour, this will hopefully make them more empathic to the situation.
  • Try to find time for yourself, either in the morning or the evening. It’s incredibly important to look after yourself and do things you enjoy.

Hopefully, with these steps, life can become a little bit easier at home. It may seem like the opposite at times, but your child isn’t acting the way they are on purpose. Gentle love and careful care can go a long way, and parents of children with special education needs and disabilities should always try to find time for self-care.

Support at Seashell

Seashell is a charity dedicated to providing a creative, happy and secure environment for children and young people with complex needs and additional speech, language and communication needs from across the UK.

We are committed to delivering individually tailored family support and respite care services that promote independence and build confidence. We deliver this through the programmes of education we offer through our school and college and residential care we provide for children in our care homes. The work we do beyond our own facilities supports this approach and the specially tailored support services we offer to the children and young people we work with.

If you’d like to know more about Seashell and what we do, contact us today on 0161 610 0100 or email us at