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Behaviour Management

Behaviour Management

Here are some strategies to help parents discipline a child who has special needs.

Learn About Your Child’s Condition

To understand child’s behaviour, parents have to understand the things/conditions that cause it, what challenge your child faces and try to gather as much information as possible from the doctor/experts about the medical, behavioural, and psychological factors that affect his or her development. Do not hesitate to ask the doctor about anything you don’t understand. Also talk to members of your child’s care team and other parents (especially those with kids who have similar issues) to help determine if your child’s challenging behaviour is typical or related to his or her individual challenges. For example, can another parent relate to the trouble you have getting your 5-year-old dressed each morning? Sharing experiences will give you a way to measure your expectations and learn which behaviors are related to your child’s diagnosis and which are purely developmental. You also might pick up some helpful tips about how to handle the behavior you are noticing.

Once you know what is typical behavior for your child’s age and health challenges, you can set realistic behavioral expectations.

Establish a Routine

It has been noted that children with certain conditions, like autism and ADHD, respond very well to discipline that’s based on knowing exactly what will happen next. So try to stick to the same routine every day. For example: If your child tends to melt down in the afternoon after school, set a schedule for free time. Maybe he or she needs to have a snack first and then do homework before playtime.

Charts can be helpful. If your child is non-verbal or pre-verbal, draw pictures or use stickers to indicate what comes next. Set a schedule that’s realistic and encourage input from your child where appropriate.

Defining Expectations

Establishing rules and discipline are a challenge for any parent. So keep your behavior plan simple and work on one challenge at a time. And as your child meets one behavioral goal, he or she can strive for the next one.

Here are some pointers.

Use Rewards and Consequences

Work within a system that includes rewards (positive reinforcement) for good behavior and natural consequences for bad behavior. Natural consequences are punishments that are directly related to the behavior. For example, if your child is throwing food, you would take away the plate.

A parent of a special child is much more than a parent and your identity should not be restricted only as a parent of special child. You have needs and a marriage and may be other normal kids to take care. Do not let your responsibility as a parent, neglect your other roles. You also have to live and enjoy your life and let parenting not become drudgery and make life miserable. So make sure that you take time and create enough opportunities to enjoy other interests and life in general with your partner.