Sunday, 12 October 2008

Disciplining 'That Boy'

Get It Down; 31 for 21

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.


  1. It's so funny that you mentioned this. I was sitting here not 5 minutes ago thinking about a post on this topic of discipline.

    Braska's still young, obviously, but we've already set up quite a few rules and boundaries, and she knows well, in my estimation, what is expected of her in certain situations. She gets in trouble. She gets reprimanded here and there when appropriate. Our therapists have mentioned how helpful it is that we have set certain limits early on in that it helps their sessions to go more smoothly than when the kids are kind of allowed to be disagreeable without response.

    I won't take up a whole ton more space on details, but I'll have to put a post together in the next few on this. One small example, though... since communication is her strong suit, she is not allowed to grunt or whine at all to request something or refuse something. She must sign or say "down" if she wants to be put down. She may not just do the stiff back thing to wriggle out of a lap. If someone is speaking to her (grandparent, therapist, etc) she must face them. She tends to want to turn her back, scoot in a circle to avoid, and that is not allowed. She must face them and listen or respond politely, and she can request for her dad or I to remove her if she really wants out of the interaction.

    She's great at this stuff. She never has to be told more than once really. I'm thankful that we started early and that we are both quite consistent with her and what's expected.

    Ah! I just kept typing! Sorry! You hit a good spot in my brain. :o)

  2. I agree with you on consistency. It is so important. It's also important to not let Peanut get away with it, even once. It's so much harder to correct a negative behavior. It's not just us, either, her preschool teacher is wonderful with Peanut. We are firm, but loving. She recently started at a new daycare and she is taking a class in Love and Logic. I've not officially taken the class, but I basically follow the concept. I know Peanut tests the limits and tests them hard so it is important to not let her win. And like you said, she's so darn cute it's hard not to give in.

    I found it very interesting to see how you have to deal with your sons differently. Autism is a whole other ballgame!

  3. RK - I love your last line!! I wish there were a few more 'good spots' in my brain, but I'm glad I hit one of yours!! It sounds like you're doing an amazing job with Braska, and having started so young, I'm sure you will have a very compliant, polite, respectful, and pleasant little girl under your roof; you should be proud!

  4. My daughter is 9 and she has a very strong will tempered by a great sense of humor and sweet nature. I pick my battles carefully where I will go toe to toe, I try to anticipate points of conflict and give lots of warning, I try to use her love of routine to reinforce positive behavior and then, I am human, and get pretty stern when I've reached the end of my rope! One of her new fav things to say is "I tell ---- on you!" when she doesn't like what I have to say. I have a terrible fear of her becoming very balky (I've seen other kids like that)to the point of cement couldn't move her so I started with a low tolerance for those kinds of stubborn behaviors early. More to learn I'm sure...


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