We should make the world more inclusive for children. That’s our top priority. Imagine a world where mobility challenges are not roadblocks, but stepping stones to boundless possibilities.
As parents, we instinctively want to help our children and protect them from harm. Sometimes, we end up creating a paradox. We build walls of dependence instead of bridges of independence.
We want our children to rise beyond their limitations. We want them to chase butterflies and enjoy pool time. To do that, they need to experience the exhilarating thrill of self-discovery and the grit of overcoming personal hurdles. How can we help them achieve that?
The key is to find the sweet spot between providing assistance and empowering them with mobility aids. We need to let go of our anxieties and hope for a more independent life for our children.
First, let’s explore why independence is so important.
Importance of Fostering Independence
Physical and social constraints in early childhood can affect a child’s overall development. Independence boosts curiosity and self-initiated mobility with simple steps like making bathrooms more accessible can significantly improve cognitive, social, language, and motor skills.
On the other hand, the consequences of restricted mobility are:
- Reduced sense of autonomy: children may feel frustrated and isolated. This has an impact on their self-esteem and overall emotional development.
- Lack of emotional resilience: they would be unable to cope with everyday situations.
- Diminished desire to explore: lack of curiosity can impede motivation to partake in what may interest them.
- Learned helplessness: a child may believe that their actions have no consequences in the world, leading them to seek assistance even with tasks they could do. This affects their problem-solving skills, resilience, and willingness to attempt new tasks.
- A passive approach to life: the child may not want to interact socially, participate in activities, or show eagerness to learn, leading to apathetic behavior.
How to Foster Independence in Children with Mobility Aids?
Provide positive values in encouraging your children to be more independent. The following are ways you can do that.
Avoid Doing Things for Them
Whether it is brushing their teeth or carrying them to school — we do it instinctively because we believe it’s faster and more convenient. Unfortunately, this way your children will not be able to learn the necessary skills. You can start small, like letting them dress up, do their hair, or operate their wheelchair.
Mobility Aids such as a wheelchair allow children to navigate their school life independently, participate in the playground, play with their toys, and eat. At the same time, you can have some time to work for your family to provide your children with more freedom and the support they need.
Rather than letting a child face the world without much experience, it’s better to control a situation while providing choices to help them learn necessary life skills. Ensure these choices are ones you are comfortable with. Start small by letting them choose their next healthy snack of the day.
On days when you feel a bit more adventurous, ask them where they want to go — it could be the beach to find some new sea shells or to the mall to play some arcade games. With a mobility stroller, you can navigate smoothly over pavements or rocky terrains with ease, providing your child with the necessary interaction with the outside world.
Homes and offices with changes in surface heights can use some modifications to help children easily navigate the building.
You can incorporate:
- Ramps: Children using wheelchairs and scooters may not be able to manage stairs, which is why ramps are more accessible to them compared to stairs. Those with walkers, crutches, and canes may also find them more accessible. Ramps can also be installed in pools, allowing children to enjoy their summer afternoons in the water.
- Handrails: Along with accessibility aids in the bathroom, handrails can provide much-needed support and stability, fostering independence. They can also be fitted by the entrance or where necessary.
- Stair Lifts: These make longer stairs more accessible for those using wheelchairs. These are installed along the stairs to help people move up and down the stairs with ease.
Common Misconceptions About Mobility Aids
When children start mobility aids, they might encounter misconceptions associated with specific devices. Mobility aids don’t have to be stressful or embarrassing. Let’s debunk these myths together so that you can instill a positive mindset in your children regarding the idea.
Only for Certain Kinds of Disabilities
These tools are for whoever wants to benefit from their use. It is just equipment that aids you in improving mobility.
It’s like Giving Up
Your child may feel like they are giving up on their ability to walk and move unassisted; however, explain to them that it is to help them stay active without risking hurting themselves.
Makes You Weak or Sick
Mobility aids provide freedom. They allow your body support through injury, prevent further deterioration, and allow your body to heal. Not only does it help your children preserve their independence, but it also improves it.
Need to Use it Forever
Not all disabilities are alike. While some children might need to use it daily, others may only need to use it occasionally or for specific activities like using the toilet or going up the stairs.
Your children need mobility aids to help them when they face challenges, and they should be proud of using them. Every child deserves to feel independent and have a sense of autonomy.
Help your child practice how to use mobility aids correctly, so they can avoid fatigue and injury. But don’t be too over-protective or pushy with your assistance.
If your child is new to using mobility aids, you can make them more fun by decorating them or letting your child pick their color.
Mobility aids are a wonderful way to feel independent, stay active, and to conquer the world, one small step at a time.