The Challenge of Discipline

Discipline is an interesting thing. Consider this:

Why is it that every species of animal can discipline their young with a quick nip or swipe with a paw?

How is it that animals are young and helpless for weeks or months, yet God made children young and helpless for years?

During my years in education, I worked closely with other teachers, administrators and faculty to create and perfect a discipline plan. Eighty percent of the time the plan worked great; but there were always THOSE kids who didn’t respond to the program.

Raising a child with Sensory Processing Disorder and ADHD, among other issues, opened my eyes to a whole new world. It was the world of the out-of-the-box child.

I was fortunate to speak with and be coached by professionals in the medical and behavioral fields.

And this is what they have to say.

A Good Discipline System Takes Work

Creating a discipline plan isn’t easy .

You have to think outside of the box when creating a plan for a child with neurological differences . They don’t respond in a predictable manner. Consequences that work for brother or sister may have a different meaning!

That’s why it’s helpful to consult with people who understand unique children.

You should address any underlying problems before deciding on a plan because your plan may need to be tailored to meet those quirks.

Meltdowns are separate from misbehavior. Medications can cause a rebound effect . Coming off of medications can be rough! Look for other triggers such as fears, anxiety, and inattention.

Discipline is where the teachable moments exist. It is where you can step in and teach self-control, cooperation, social skills, or self-soothing strategies.

Remember, they may not have a clue why they’re in trouble. To them, everything’s fine!

How We Did It

Looking back, I now realize that our daughter’s behaviors were driven not by a need to wreck havoc on our sanity, but by her own neurological differences. She was just trying to survive in a place that was unfamiliar and uncomfortable.

We ended up using a plan from a recommended book called Parenting with Logic and Love . As our daughter attended behavioral therapy, I was blessed to be able to ask questions and recieve coaching from her therapist at the end of her sessions.

You have to be comfortable asking for help from those who are qualified to give it.

To this day, I listen to audio versions of their books in the car when I’m frustrated with kids.

A Different Perspective

For the child with Autism/Aspergers, ADD/ADHD, and other disorders , the world is a place where people speak in a different language, use strange social cues, and the environment is agitating!

For the child with Sensory Integration Disorder, the world is a place where clothes feel like sandpaper, people yell at you through megaphones, and you are being constantly attacked with stimuli. It is nerve-wracking!

For the child with ADD/ADHD, the world is a place where 8,000 things are shouting for your attention at the same time, and it is competing with the 800 thoughts running through your head!

For the child with Anxiety or OCD tendencies, the world is a place of worry. Things won't line up the way you like them, you don't know what's coming next. It's very scary!

They need you to provide them with some scaffolding to bridge the gap between what is known and what is not.

Do you see how many of these issues mingle together? All children need to learn to have self-control, and for children with neurological differences, it’s going to take more time. They are dealing with distractions, impulsivity, intense reactions to stimulus, and in accurate perceptions. They need help separating and managing those issues.

Observation Logs

Observation logs are a methodical way to help you pin down a behavior pattern. They can help you discover what types of structures you child likes best, which routines work, and how they like to operate.

You can use the log to see if a child has low points after school each day. In that case they may need some decompression time. Giving them a chance to play outside (no TV) and have a snack may be all they need for a successful. Look for clues to how your child likes to do things; maybe using checklists, routines, timers, or bouncing from one item to the next. They will all give you insight and a starting point.

If your child seems to like checklists, then use them. Believe it or not, there is comfort in using routines and lists. That may also be a clue that he or she is a concrete thinker (which would help you decide which plan to use).

Punishment and Discipline are NOT the same.

The research is clear and consistent.

Punishment and discipline are not the same thing. Punishment requires children to suffer from their mistakes; whereas discipline teaches children to learn from their mistakes.

Spanking a child will stop undesirable behavior…temporarily.

Guess what else it will do? It will teach them to be more aggressive, even as toddlers. They do what they see. Spanking reinforces negative memories. Mom and Dad become associated with physical harm.

It devalues both the parent and child, AND it will not improve behavior.

Don’t get the wrong idea. Children should experience logical and natural consequences for their behavior choices. When the consequences are connected to the crime, and are delivered with lots of empathy, then important lessons about real life can be learned. And that’s what parents need to teach: lessons.

The Miracle of Chores

Chores and Discipline

According to Foster and Cline, if you want to have children who are responsible and well behaved, make sure they have chores(not slave labor). Kids who have meaningful chores and responsibilities feel that they are needed. It builds self worth, which is a building block to a positive parenting relationship.

Remember, any program will be successful when used consistently. Give your children a personal cheerleader, always remembering it is THEIR problem or issue.

Look at your child through the eyes of God...imperfect, unfinished, and full of possibilities.