Guest blogger Amy Stout is here to talk about special needs children and effective discipline. I hope you find the creative method she uses with her daughter, Kylie, who experiences autism.
How to Use a Board to Correct Your Child, Part 1
by Amy Stout
Are you gasping and sputtering at that title? I hope so! I really do!
I hope the title of this post grabs your attention because I believe my husband and I have stumbled on the best discipline tool ever! Well, maybe not the best ever, but it sure works for our family. We are so excited about it, we just can’t wait to share what we have learned and discovered in the hopes that it will be helpful for you too!
In our time as parents of a special needs child, we have tried many things to train and disciple her in a way that is pleasing to the Lord, but these “tried and true” methods that seem to work for so many others, just weren’t a good fit for us.
What Doesn’t Work
- Spanking. Of course, I mean in an appropriate way: talking about the offense and then administering a fair and non abusive correction to a very padded “seat of learning”. When talking about the offense to my daughter, we found that we were talking “at” her rather than “with her” as she simply could not follow along. Then, when we administered the correction, she looked at us and said “Hey! you hit me!” — she had no connection between the spanking being a correction. (hence one of the reasons I am very against corporal punishment for children who experience special needs)
- Time out. Kylie was willing to sit, but had no idea why she was sitting. No length of talking drove home the offense or consequence.
- Grounding from an activity or object. My daughter is so flexible, she will just move to the next thing. Maybe someday this will work, but it had no affect in the present day.
soooo…. clearly we had to find something that was tailored specifically for our daughter and her needs.
What Does Work
We had learned previously that our daughter responded well to lists. She also enjoys reading. (She is a self-taught reader! I know, I am rolling my eyes right along with you). We also know that our daughter will follow directions IF they are written out in step form. Example:
- Pick up blocks
- Put blocks on shelf
- Close door to cabinet
So… we began using a white board in the process of disciplining our daughter. (no, I wasn’t referring to a 2×4, but gotcha!! =0)
How It Works
Here is how it works. When the offense is committed, we very calmly and quietly take our daughter by the hand and say, “Please come with me.” We then go to our living room and seat her gently on the couch – usually in the corner to help avoid wiggling and distractions. We then explain to her that she is in a timeout and that she cannot talk or get up until the timer goes off. We then walk to the kitchen and set the timer on the stove or microwave for 6 minutes. (Our daughter is 6 years old. If your child is 5, set the timer for 5 minutes – kids relate to their age. Also be sure to use a timer that has a sound like a “ding” to mark when the time is over.)
We then go back into the living room, pick up our whiteboard, a dry erase marker and an eraser and proceed to sit next to our daughter. If our daughter tries to talk to us, we simply and quietly say, “I’m sorry, we cannot talk right now because you are in a time out.” If your child tries to engage you again, just quietly ignore them.
Once we are seated, we write on the whiteboard, in view of our daughter who begins to read over our shoulder, “I am in timeout because…” We proceed to list the reasons:
- I pulled Tigger the Cat’s Fur – My actions were not kind.
- Daddy asked me to stop and I did not obey.
- I broke God’s rule(s) (and we list the rule(s)).
Then, at the bottom of the board we write. “Next time, I will…”
- Obey daddy so I don’t hurt Tigger.
- Pet Tigger the cat instead of pulling his hair.
- Obey God’s rule(s).
When the timer dings, we then hand our daughter the white board and have her read aloud what we wrote. When she reads “I pulled Tigger the Cat’s Fur – My actions were not kind”, Dan and I respond appropriately with expression and emotion, “Oh no, that must have hurt tigger – owie!”
After we read the offenses, our daughter then must apologize to the offended parties. We have her say she is sorry to Tigger the cat for hurting him, to Daddy for not obeying, and then she must pray to God and tell him she is sorry for breaking his rule(s).
What Works for Your Child?
Okay, you’ve heard what works with Kylie. But perhaps something different works for your child. If so, tell us about effective discipline strategies at your house. And come back tomorrow, when Amy applies spiritual principles to their discipline strategies. Until then, visit Amy’s blog, www.histreasuredprincess.blogspot.com, to read more of her great ideas.