No I haven't lost my mind (yet) but as a mom with a special needs child I have learned through workshops, classes and personal experience that punishment doesn't work, especially if you have a child who doesn't understand cause and effect. As a parent with a child who has special needs I already know that spanking doesn't work, taking privileges away doesn't work so what is a parent to do? We as parents know what things that worked and what doesn't work for your child. So, why do we keep doing the same thing over and over knowing its going work?
Special needs as well as your other children usually don't respond to punishment. Oh, they can pretend but do they truly understand why they are being punished? Its parents and friends around you who need to be very cautious around these kids. They are like a "copycat". If one is doing something wrong and getting moms attention most likely at some point your special needs child will try it to get the same kind of reaction from the parents.
Does punishment work?
Are you kidding me? Have you been the victim of a child putting holes in the walls, throwing rocks at your car, throwing his sippy cup as you are driving down the road? Me to, so you're wondering why is it that I don't use punishment. Why? Because it doesn't work. Many times children find a way of getting around the punishment. There are many reasons and many facts proving that punishment doesn't work. Things like going to bed early or sit in a time out chair but it’s all for the sake of the parents. They want to please us so bad they will do whatever they can to get approval.
Please let me assure you, I'm writing from experience not just from reading books or taking hour class. Most of my knowledge is with my own special needs child and what I’ve learned from him, good and bad.
Finding what works for your child
What does work? You child has so many good qualities focus on them. He wants to please you and if all it takes is a little praise and bragging to others about how well he is doing so be it. Find something the child is good at and praise them for every positive task and behavior change you see. It’s kind of like the term "catch them being good". It can change his way of thinking next time and change his who attitude altogether.
The biggest thing we need to concentrate on is that there are natural reactions to everything they do.
Praise the child who has done what was asked of him or her. So how do we raise a child who assumes responsibility? Give guidance on moral principles with the hope that the behavior will result in appropriate behavior you are striving for.
Stay connected with your child.
They may know what to do but cannot verbally express it. Stay connected, they are always wanting to do the right thing. Praise goes a long way for special needs as well as it works for others as well. Kids want nothing more than the approval from their parents. Teach them the tools to manage the impulse behavior. Mom is no teacher however you are actually the most important teacher there is. Role play works well in teaching your child right and wrong. Finally, give them the support they need to make the best moral choices possible.
One of the first step in moving forward is changing the way we do things. When dealing with children who have severe behavior problems the parent has to do the changing. They can't self-regulate their choices therefore it’s really hard for them to make decisions until someone comes along and encourages them to participate in something they shouldn't. Ask yourself, are you expecting too much for them, teach them to do what you say. This is one place role play comes in.
I just can't say enough about role play with these kids. They are watching everything you do and you say. The good and bad behaviors.
Now, I'm going to contradict everything I just told you. The whole point of punishment is so that it fits "the crime" and the problem behaviors will decrease and even stop. If the child is comfortable and refuse the new way of doing things both home, church or out in public that is a whole new problem.
Remember the saying what the definition of insanity means. It means doing the same thing over and over expecting a different outcome. It’s not going to work. Avoid punishment when you can. You feel it is no longer working most go the way they were doing things although it was counterproductive then.
Here are some ideas and examples.
1. Punishment often fails so find another way to get your point across.
2. Others are watching you in order make decisions.
3. Parents can help children in dealing with teaching coping skills.
Your child needs you more than anything else to be their advocate and hopefully make school something they enjoy participating in.