My least favorite part of parenting is disciplining Cooper. I'm sure it's one of your least favorite aspects as well. While disciplining kids without special needs is no walk in the park, correcting a child with special needs is a whole other ballgame.
Kids with conditions like autism, Asperger's, and social, language, and cognitive delays can be especially difficult to correct. We have to pay close attention to the cause of our children's misbehavior, since so often it can be simple frustration over not being able to communicate their needs or wants.
With Cooper, we've found that the consequence and reward system works best.
For instance, if Cooper comes home with a red or orange marks on his school discipline chart, he gets his electronics privileges taken away for the rest of the day.
If he gets a yellow mark, which means he received a warning for his behavior, he doesn't get in trouble but he also doesn't receive a reward at the end of the week for good behavior.
If he gets green marks all week, we reward him with a new book or small toy or we take him to play games at Chuck E. Cheese. Sometimes we just reward him by cooking his favorite meals all weekend and watching his favorite movies, or allowing him to spend the night with a friend or grandparents.
Cooper also has to continue “green” behavior at home in order to receive his reward each week.
When Cooper was younger and still couldn't talk well enough to communicate, he would often cry or have a temper tantrum. This is a behavior he still turns to when he gets frustrated or angry, so my husband and I have been working hard to put an end to this method of expression.
Though we understand Cooper has trouble communicating, we are trying to teach him that “fit-throwing” is not the answer, so when he has a tantrum we send him to his room and ignore his cries until he calms down. Now, for me, this method of discipline is pretty tough for me as his mom, because I hate to hear him upset even when I know he's just doing it to get what he wants.
However, his fits are getting shorter and shorter as he realizes they get him nowhere. When he eventually calms down, Cooper is ready to help us understand what he needs or wants. We often go through this during homework time, though we've found after he's had his fit, he's able to concentrate on his assignment better.
These techniques are what works for my son, so if you are doing something totally different and it works, good for you, don't change a thing. Remember, discipline hurts, but if we are using it with love and in ways that teach our children to be better people, we are doing it right.
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