While disciplining your child is difficult for all parents, those with special needs children likely find it especially hard.
However, even kids with disabilities or special needs need disciplining to teach them about boundaries and limits. We know it can be tough to discipline a child when you're not even sure he or she understands what they did wrong, but choosing not to discipline them does way more harm than good.
Here's a few tips from experts about how to positively manage your child's behavior.
Kids won't really believe in the limits you set for them if you only enforce those limits every now and again. Teaching children correct behavior is all about setting standards—and sticking with them. Believe it or not, kids who have trouble learning respond well to structure. Knowing what is expected of them each day is comforting to all children, even those with special needs. All kids crave the consistency daily standards provide. When they know what to expect each day, kids can take on the day with confidence.
Give Praise, Give it Often
More often than not, kids break rules because they want attention or are unsure what to do. By praising them when they do well at something, even little things, kids will feel less-inclined to seek your attention and approval in destructive ways.
Don't Wait to Discipline
Ever heard the statement, “Wait until your father gets home. He'll deal with you” when you were growing up. While some parents choose one to be the disciplinarian, this method can prove futile. Children learn consequences best when they come immediately following their questionable behavior.
Behavior Modification Methods
Create a positive behavior chart for your child at home. Place a star sticker on each day your child exhibits positive conduct and set goals with rewards. For instance, if your child receives three good behavior stars in a row, reward them with their favorite snack or meal.
Repeat Over and Over Again
For many kids with special needs, telling them one or two times about certain behavior isn't enough for them to get the gist. Once you've decided on a set of rules, spend the next several weeks teaching and repeating these rules to your child. Use methods like hand signals to help your child remember each rule.
Give Simple, Direct Instructions
It's always best not to complicate instructions. Likewise, don't give too many instructions at one time. For instance, don't just say, “Clean up your toys, then put all of your books back on the shelf.” Start out with, “Pick up and place all of your toys into the toy basket.” Once that chore is done, THEN you can move on to the next task of placing the books on their shelves.
If your child has a diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy what level of the GMFCS are they?