I always get a little giggle when parents use threats as a ‘strategy’ to get their child to respond accordingly. Some common threats are:
- Threatening to leave without them: When they tell their child it’s time to leave and their child refuses, often this is followed by the “Ok I’m leaving then, Bye” with the parent slowly walking towards the car. Let’s face it, you never going to leave them there.
- You Just Wait: This is the, “You just wait till Dad comes home” or “Just wait till we get home” or one of favourites, “You just wait, that security man is going to come lock you up!”
- We never going to come here again: When your child is misbehaving in a place they really enjoy going to. But let’s face it, of course you going to back there.
Another popular strategy of trying to curb bad behaviour is manipulation.
- If you eat your supper you can have some ice-cream.
- If you pack away your toys I’ll give you a treat.
- If you listen nicely you can watch a movie.
Now I’m all supportive of rewarding good behaviour, however these rewards should never be negotiated. All you doing is creating a sense of what’s in it for me attitude. These are not sustainably effective.
What are Effective Strategies?
The Discipline strategy you decide upon needs to be appropriate to the child’s behaviour and their age.
It is very important to note that every child and parent differ in what they feel comfortable with regarding discipline. Which ever strategy your choose, you have to insure that it is effective in allowing your child to understand that the behaviour is inappropriate and unacceptable.
Hand over hand: This is when you give an instruction, should your child not comply you physically help your child to complete the task by cupping their hands in yours and following through on the instruction. Eg: Pack away the cars. They don’t listen, hand over hand the packing away. Put the cars back out and repeat the instruction until they do it on their own. The hand over hand strategy is a prompt used in ABA therapy, and by no means should it be done in an angry invasive manner.
Over – correction: Say your child scribbles on the wall. Make them clean it off, plus some more…lets say the whole wall.
Time – out: Have your child remain in the same place for the duration of time applicable to their age. You need to find a time-out place that is not comfortable for them. Time-out does not work in ones room, on a comfy couch or place where they can entertain them self with any sort of distraction
Removing privileges high on their ‘I love it’ list: This could be anything from an i-pod, to TV games, TV time, Favourite toys, Treats etc. These can be taken away for a period of time before returned to them. It is helpful to explain to your child that should they repeat the unacceptable behaviour you will confiscate that item and it will only be returned after a period of time. This way you are giving them the opportunity to choose better the next time, and that behaviour may then never occur, however should it reoccur you must stay true to your word and remove the item.
Natural consequence: This is when the child is given a choice. Be careful not to mix this with manipulation. Eg: Your child refuses to get ready in the morning (providing they have these skills to do so). You can set them a timer as to how long they have to get ready – make the timer to go off a little earlier than what your expected time of departure would be so that you have some extra time to play with. Should they manage getting ready before the timer goes off, they will be able to watch a little tv etc before leaving. If they don’t then unfortunately they will loose out on that extra time for a preferred activity.
Spanking / Hidings: Now this is a very controversial topic, and I am by no means saying that this method is neither right nor wrong. However I realise that some families have found this method effective when done properly. If this is a method you choose, you have to be aware that smacking your child in anger is abuse. You have to be calm and neutral. Please don’t ever use your hand either.
Remember in any discpline technique you choose it is vitally important that you do not discipline in your own anger. You have to stay calm and neutral where the emphasis is placed on the consequence to behaviour and not your anger you may be feeling.
It is also important to be sensitive to any sensory issues your child may present with.
And most IMPORTANTLY discipline should only take place in the presence of DEFIANT behaviours!
Which ever method you choose to use always be consistent.
Autism and Discipline part 1 What You Should Know Before You Discipline
Autism and Discipline part 2 Breaking Bad Behaviours – How to Discipline Effectively
Autism and Discipline part 3 Autism and Discipline – Strategies