Sunday, 12 October 2008
Disciplining 'That Boy'
It's not that easy trust me! I mean you've seen how cute he is, right??
But beneath the cuteness lies a rather naughty, manipulative streak. He knows he's cute and plays on it; he thinks he can get away with murder - and he probably could! Yes, butter would not melt in that little boy's mouth.
Seriously - it is a known fact that all kids feel safer when those in authority over them deal with unwanted behaviour consistently and make the boundaries crystal clear. But with our Tom, it is all the more crucial to be consistent and straight down the line, because he forgets things quite easily from one incident to the next; and as he learns best through repetition, the way he is disciplined has to be consistent...
So if he hits, or throws, he has a warning and then goes straight to his room. If he refuses to eat, he can't watch TV. He's not allowed food in the lounge unless we specifically say it's ok and give it to him ourselves. If he gets up after we have kissed him goodnight, we shut his door.
And so on.
However it's all very well being consistent with Tom, but it is also just as important that his brothers are treated the same... And that's where it gets a lot more complicated! The other two boys are both on the Autistic Spectrum, and so have needs and difficulties which are completely different, sometimes even opposed to Thomas's. For example, if Ben has a temper tantrum, the trigger might be a lot less obvious, and the reasons much more complex - it could be linked to anxiety, or misunderstanding/ misinterpreting of a situation or something someone has said or done. So occasionally, I have to give him the benefit of the doubt, and respond to the tantrum with much gentleness and reassurance instead of shutting him out.
Still, with Tom, consistency works really well, and on the whole, we manage to get to where we need to be - although it might take some time if he isn't feeling cooperative!
So today, Sunday, was a week on from 'The Incident'... I had to be at church earlier than I normally am, and there was a high risk that he might 'reoffend' as I was having to watch all 3 of them. So I made it absolutely clear to him that he was not to leave the hall without mummy, and that he was not to go swimming.
Well I'm glad to report that the incident was not repeated, and that he didn't go swimming. I am pretty proud of myself...
But what about you, fellow-parents of a child with DS? What is your take on disciplining kids with special needs? Do you use rewards/ sticker charts/ any special systems...? What works and what doesn't? I really would be interested to read of your experiences - might even do a little summary in my blog of your thoughts, ideas, suggestions if there are a few. But please do share. This month after all, is in part about knitting us a little closer together as a community - and I for one am grateful for the opportunity to feel less alone.