Friday, January 17, 2014

To punish or not to punish... that was the reader question

Discussion Topic:  Discipline of children with special needs

Top Recommendations: Use consequences, time out, ignoring the child, iRewardChart

Continue reading for more information.

Discipline is a hard part of parenting.  For those who have children with special needs, discipline has an extra dimension -- working out what behavior is part of the diagnosis and what behavior needs to be 'punished'. We use the 1-2-3 Magic program ( and are pretty firm on Chatterbox and Giggles, but have modified the program to account for their language delays.  We also take toys from them in response to bad behavior. We also use bribery, I mean "positive reinforcement," a lot as well.  Food rewards work especially well for Chatterbox.

A challenge we face, as do other parents of children with special needs, is that what works as a reward or punishment one week, won't work the next.  Sometimes Chatterbox will be unable to stop her behavior, no matter what the consequence.  It is important to persevere, be flexible, consistent and remember the diagnosis when using any form of behavior management.

Bridget wrote: What type of punishment do you use for your special needs child? Have you found any punishments that work better than others? Also, list things that you have used and do not work please.

Aunty Dale said: When my eldest son threw the biggest of tantrum we took his computer from him for a month but he had to earn time on it by being good and behaving himself worked for quite a few years actually only had to do it three times in total

Louise stated: I don't punish my child!! I use consequences but don't punish

Laura mentioned: I love 1-2-3 Magic! I use it for both my typically developing child and my child with special needs. The book is a wonderful resource!

Sherri commented: I use different ways from consequences, time out, losing items/activities, and spankings depending on understanding and what it is they have done. The only difference I make with my special need child is I do not do timeouts as this isn't really a punishment since he likes being by himself.

Teresa said: Son is now 13 and twice, in about 4 years, I've completely emptied his room of all toys, electronics. Now we just have to take away the computer for a day and it's mostly for not listening or for using his silly voice. A couple of times he's disrespected me and I've ignored him. It was HARD, but it worked. The last time, he even experienced guilt and did the laundry!

Patty mentioned: I like to think in terms of a consequence, not a punishment. Teaching moments when there is a problem.

Angi commented: In terms of behaviour management we have found 123 then timeout mat with timer works best, consistency, fairness, and simple explanations

Patty suggested: Conscious Discipline ...check it out:)

Kris said: In my Special Education classroom the student would become invisible for whatever time worked for them. For one child it meant, after warnings, her wheelchair was turned around and for that short period no one communicated with her peers or adults. This doesn't mean we ignored them or put them in danger. We never left but didn't have front to front communication. It is hugely successful with all my students no matter the cognitive ability, easy to do anywhere, and not harsh for anyone involved. Although one of my students told his Para, while pantomiming, "you just broke my heart!"

Kim mentioned: I have a son that has VCFS, with ADHD and the only thing that works, so far, is doing a thing called time in ... I'm open for any ideas...I'm against spanking. .But I have thought about physical punishment were kids run or do push ups to relieve anger ....

Kristina said: I've found that punishment really doesn't work... I try to reinforce only the behaviors I want. With immediate reinforcement for appropriate behavior, students start to seek the reinforcement and comply. When they make mistakes, I find that debriefing the situation and "righting the wrong" is far more effective than a traditional punishment. Changing your focus really helps.

Patti commented: One thing that has helped our kids is practicing ...... any simple time out would send them into rages so when they were calm I would say time to practice ...... and I would tell them to go to the corner and when we are out all I have to say is do we need to practice sitting when we go home or walking or not talking and it's no ma'am ..... they don't like practicing and not being able to play .....

Cindy said: I like the Love and Logic approach. But, for my kid, taking away what he loves works.

Brenda stated : I usually take away privileges, like TV, iPad, or his laptop. Works like a charm.

Bri responded: I can take things away but it does not bother her totally then she sits under me!!!

Hannah said: Removing my son from the situation is usually the best thing to do. For example, if I say, "When you can behave, you may come out of your room." And then after he has calmed down, he'll come out with a better attitude and a readiness to share or be kind, etc. I have found that he can't separate spanking as a punishment from hitting out of anger, so we avoid it all together.

Juliana said: Problem with any kind of negative consequences is that they tend to be more punishing for me than him! Typically re-directing him onto another activity works best - he's not going to get what he wants but also I won't have to listen to hours of screaming...

Marjorie mentioned: Giving her a time-out or giving whatever she's playing with a time-out. She mimics any other negative punishments so we avoid those.

Nathalie suggested: Read: How to talk so my child will listen, and listen so my child will talk. Good book! (Find out more about this book here )

Heather mentioned: I make my son stand in the corner. If we are out and about the "corner" can be a flat wall as long as his nose is between his thumbs. That way he has a physical barrier there and it gives him time to calm down. It has always been effective. Now that he is older I will ground him from watching tv in his room also.

App Suggestion:

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Jack commented: We try to redirect so as not to levy heavy punishments, as they can cause other bad behaviours, but when it's unavoidable, we give time outs, or take away favorite things or activities. We are trying a new strategy using an app on Jake's ipad called iRewardChart. It allows him to earn stars which can then be "redeemed" when he reaches a certain threshhold that you set, and he can choose from specific rewards with different point values. He caught on quick, and it has helped us make the most progress in potty training that we have ever made. He used to wet the bed almost everynight, and now hardly does at all!

From iTunes:
iRewardChart makes it easy to reward your children for good behavior and keep them motivated.
1. Type their name,
2. Select a few tasks from our list of suggestions, and
3. Reward their accomplishments with a single tap in the weekly chart -----------------------------------------------------------------------

When stars have been earned, your child can pick from the default list of suggested rewards, or you can setup your own custom rewards especially tailored for each of your children, like "$2 Pocket Money" or "One Hour Of TV".

Children love to feel responsible, challenged and respected. But most children don't like being told what to do... iRewardChart also allows you to set up abstract goals like "Patience" and "Sharing With Others", so rewards teach the virtues you want your child to learn.
iRewardChart includes a backup and sync service, so that parents and children can share their chart across the devices. Our sync services is FREE to use, and uses Dropbox, which is also free.

"iRewardChart" is a full featured free version with only the following limitations:

- It supports a maximum of one child.
- It supports a maximum of four tasks per week

If you would like to purchase iRewardChart, please support Smart Apps For Special Needs by clicking this button:

(FREE, iPhone/iPad)

If you have your own question to ask, please head over to our Facebook page where you can easily enter your question for discussion by using the Questions tab.

Odd Socks Mummy sometimes is melting in the heat here in Australia at the moment and wishes she could get on a plane and go somewhere colder!

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