I have been asked a few times for advice on disciplining. This is a pretty touchy subject and while I’m happy to share my personal experience, I’m not claiming to be an expert…at all.
It should also be noted that we work very closely with our doctors and therapists when constructing and implementing any new discipline plan.
Over the years we have struggled with the idea and the logistics of disciplining our children. The main reason for this struggle is because we were never sure what was within their control and what wasn’t. We didn’t want to punish them for something outside of their control but at the same time, in the real world, their actions have consequences.
We do not spank and we try not to assign consequences while in an emotional state. I believe very strongly that it sends the wrong message. That’s just my opinion and I’m not attacking anyone that believes otherwise.
There are a number of reasons we don’t spank, but one of the main ones is that there is no progression from there. For example, if you use time out, you can progress as needed by extending the amount of time they are in time out. However, with spanking, all you can do is spank harder or longer and that leads to very murky waters, and sends the wrong message, at least in my opinion.
One of the things that we have been very careful to do is make sure the consequences are developmentally appropriate. Not only should the punishment or consequences fit the crime, so to speak, but also it should fit the developmental age of the child in question.
Does that make sense?
One of the other things we have made a priority, whenever possible, is to ensure that a lesson is learned.
In my opinion, it’s more important that my kids learn from their mistakes, than simply experience the consequences of them. If they don’t learn from their mistakes they will likely just repeat the behavior, thus beginning an endless cycle.
Just to give you an idea of some of the things we have used, I’ll list a few.
We have used time outs, early bedtime, loss of a toy or something else for a period of time, restricted TV or movies, removed video games and provided oatmeal as a meal replacement (I’ll explain that one in a minute).
We have used sticker charts and treasure boxes as well as other positive reinforcement techniques.
The oatmeal is one of our outside the box solutions. We have only done this with Gavin because he doesn’t respond to anything else.Gavin is very, very complex and so we have to employ things that are a bit…..unusual.
Basically, when Gavin needs to be held accountable for his actions and attempts to address the behavior with other methods is ineffective, we will substitute his next meal for a bowl of plain oatmeal. I know some people take issue with this but all our doctors are onboard because we have tried everything else and this is all that works.
Gavin loves oatmeal but not when it’s plain and unsweetened. Also, we never just whip out oatmeal for every little thing. Usually, the situation needs to be more extreme to warrant oatmeal. We never withhold food as a punishment. There have been times though that due to his behaviors he has gone to bed without dinner, however, our doctors assure us that he will be just fine.
As parents, we have to decide what is best for our own, personal situation. No one knows your kids better then you. My only bit of advice is to make sure whatever method you do employ is developmentally appropriate. Speaking from experience, it’s very easy to get caught up in the heat of the moment and overreact, sometimes it benefits everyone involved to take a step back and gather yourself before assigning consequences for a particular situation.
Never be afraid to ask for help. You can work with local agencies or behavioral specialists. They are all great resources but in the end, you are the one that will make the decisions. You are the one that your child will learn the most from, so lead by example. 🙂
Seize the opportunity to do so and make a positive impact on your child’s life.