All children need discipline. They need a certain amount of order and structure, and they need to know that there are consequences for their actions. Disciplining children can be challenging for all parents and teachers, even under the easiest of circumstances. When disciplining children who have special needs, discipline can be even more challenging, as there are other circumstances to deal with over and above discipline and correction. This is a reality that top special Ed teachers throughout the country understand and contend with every day, and it can be especially difficult for parents, especially for parents whose special needs children have siblings. It’s important for parents of children with special needs to remember to gain as much knowledge as possible when learning to discipline their children. Following are some tips from top special education teachers in the area for parents of children with special needs that can help when it’s time to discipline.
The first and perhaps most important step in learning how to effectively parent a child who has special needs is to learn as much as you can about your child’s specific diagnosis. It’s vital that you learn about your child’s condition because, without this knowledge, it’s easy to forget the contributors or typical patterns or situations that accompany each diagnosis. For example, a parent who hasn’t read up on their child’s condition may fall into the trap of thinking that whatever behaviors their child is currently exhibiting can be ‘grown out of’ or that their child is acting out on purpose. Additionally, it’s important to discuss your child’s condition with her doctor. Be sure to have all your questions answered and ask if there’s any additional counsel they can give. Speaking with other parents whose children have the same diagnosis may also help, as sharing experiences can spark ideas. However, it’s also important to remember that your child is an individual and, just as with all children, it’s better to steer clear of doing too much comparison.
Consistency and consequences
One of the most vital things you can do as a parent when it comes to disciplining your child with special needs is to be consistent. Naturally, all children need discipline, and when it comes to developing structure in a child’s life, consistency is key. If your child learns that you’re not going to be consistent in your expectations of her, it will be much easier for her to try to get away with certain behaviors. Correction and discipline are about building that structure that helps to make them feel secure. Of course, all kids will test boundaries, and they can’t learn where their boundaries are set if you don’t set them and stick to them. When they step outside the boundaries you’ve set, it’s equally important that they learn there are consequences for their actions. And, when you tell your child ‘no,’ try substituting a ‘yes,’ or a substitute behavior, for the situation.
Rewards and encouragement
Of course, all children need love and encouragement, and this fact is especially evident when it comes to raising children who have special needs. Give your child opportunities to earn rewards for positive behaviors and for moving to the next level in school and other important areas such as in toilet training. Rewards and encouragement can go a long way when a child is attempting to expand his world and move to the next level in any area. Give small rewards for small milestones such as stickers or watching their favorite TV show when they get over a small obstacle. Give bigger rewards when they reach bigger milestones, such as for pooping in the potty for the first time.
Children who have special needs are capable of learning effectively and expanding their worlds. They can learn to communicate and build skills that will help them grow and develop. Just as all children do, kids with special needs learn better when they’re encouraged to move to the next level. But they can’t move to the next level if they don’t learn that certain behaviors are acceptable, while other behaviors are unacceptable. If your child has been diagnosed as having special needs, top special Ed teachers in the area recommend that you talk to professionals in order to learn how to discipline your child effectively.