How I Stay Calm in the Midst of Turmoil While Raising a Child with a Disability:

by LisaMarie Bernardo

We all know that siblings can fight, argue and irritate each other. It can make for a very chaotic household environment. I find this even more challenging especially because my son struggles with a disability. I have tried for years to get my kids to get along but have yet to succeed. However, I have now realized that I can do something within myself to change my reaction to all of the bickering and fighting. I find that for me, when I hear the kids starting to ramp up, and I feel my stomach tighten and my heart skip a beat, then I know it’s time for me to be proactive and get in gear. Here’s a few tips of what works for me in those tense moments and what I do to de-stress when the arguments finish.

  1. First, I say a quick prayer for strength, peace and wisdom:

Sometimes no matter where I am, I just take a second to stop and say a quick prayer. I pray for strength to get me through another argument and I pray for wisdom on how to handle the situation. Sometimes I just close myself in the bathroom or my room for just two minutes to do this.

  1. I then take 5 deep breaths:

After I say a quick prayer, I take 5 deep breaths. I breathe in deeply through my nose and exhale a long breath out through my mouth. It helps to keep me calm and makes my body reset and recharge.

  1. I step outside for a couple of minutes:

There are times when I just need to step outside for two minutes to recharge and change the scenery. I sit on the porch and soak up the sun for a couple of minutes. Feeling the warmth of the sun on my body recharges and refreshes me. It gives me a quick pick me up so that I can go back and restart where I left off before the kids started arguing.

  1. I look at funny pictures or quotes:

If I’ve had a very stressful day or moment, I take a few minutes to look at funny pictures or quotes that I have saved on my iPhone. I have them saved under my Favorites Album so that they are all in an album together and organized. It uplifts my mood instantly. My humor has always gotten me through hard times and I still use it to this day. I’m a big Seinfeld fan so I save funny pictures from my favorite episodes. I also love to laugh at funny parenting memes on Facebook. When I laugh or giggle, it makes me feel so much lighter and happier. It helps me to unwind. I typically set aside a time right before bedtime to laugh so that it can help me sleep better.

  1. I look at uplifting and inspiring quotes and I put them as my phone wallpaper.

When I’m down and out and need a boost or encouragement after a very long, stressful and overwhelming day, I save uplifting and inspiring quotes on my iPhone picture album. I sometimes will put one of them as my wallpaper on my phone so that I can look at it often while I unlock and open my phone. Sometimes I even print them out and hang them on my refrigerator so that I look at them very often as I pass by. It gives me strength and it empowers me to keep my head up high and to remind myself that I am strong and I can get through anything that comes my way.

These are just some ways that helps to keep me grounded and focused when my kids argue and fight. I realized that I can’t force my kids to get along right now, but I can change my reaction to it. I hope some of these suggestions can help and inspire you to do the same.


LisaMarie Bernardo is a certified Special Needs Parent Life Coach, who has such a passion and drive to help parents and caregivers raising children with disabilities. LisaMarie graduated from the University of New Haven in 2001 with her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. She worked in the North Haven, Ct Public Schools as a Special Needs Paraprofessional for four years. It was due to the suggestion of a dear friend and colleague who persuaded LisaMarie to study and practice life coaching that gives parents raising children with disabilities the necessary resources support and techniques needed to combat the stress from everyday life. LisaMarie has enjoyed this decision immensely and has never looked back. Along with life coaching LisaMarie has two kids, Paul and Joey, ages 14 and 12 and has been married to her best friend, Russ for 17 years. All together, they live with three mini house pigs that they rescued two years ago. LisaMarie wants to live everyday giving parents and caregivers the vital resources that they deserve and need.