Patience, persistence and practice – these are the key elements of discipline. Every parent has their own style of child-rearing. There is no one-formula-suits-all solution to disciplining a child, but there are principles that can guide parents along the way. Children naturally misbehave for many reasons – one of them is their budding curiosity as they navigate their childhood. From a baby, they learn to cry to elicit a response from their parents. The same can be told when disciplining a child-it’s all about eliciting positive behavior. 

Some parents believe that corporal punishment is the best way to discipline children, that is by inflicting physical pain as a way of discipline. However, it is not always the case. There are a plethora of social studies that revolve around corporal punishment and its effectiveness. There is more to discipline than giving a good ol’ spanking, especially when parenting a child with special needs. For one, parents should study their child’s behavior to establish or develop appropriate and at the same time, effective behavioral plans that involve boundaries, control, rewards and reassurance.

In this blog, we’ll look into some pointers for how parents can discipline their children with special needs and how ABA Therapy can help in addressing problematic behaviors.

Addressing Unwanted Behavior

Firstly, parents have to understand that Applied Behavioral Analysis or ABA Therapy is not a way of disciplining children nor is it a solution to correct behavior. Rather, it is a way of understanding why special needs children act the way they do and the hows of addressing their problematic behaviors. By leveraging the many aspects of ABA Therapy, a parent will be able to identify approaches that promote positive behavior.

Perhaps the first step for anything that needs to be addressed is to identify the cause or in a child’s case, the reason for their problematic behavior. ABA Therapy implies that problematic behaviors are usually a manifestation of what a child is trying to communicate. This explains why the mere concept of punishing is never supplementary in disciplining children with special needs. 

Reinforcing The Right Behavior

With special needs children, parents need to be particular about their responses. Instead of teaching your child to avoid bad behavior, you may be reinforcing it. As an illustration, let’s take a look at the example below:

“ Jack is a 5 year-old child with ASD. His mother scolded him because he accidentally broke a vase in the parlor. Jack’s mom yelled at him, with wide eyes and a frustrated face. Little Jack does not hear his mother’s yelling; instead, he focuses on his mother’s interesting reactions. Just to see how his mother would react the next time, Jack breaks another vase.”

In the example above, the reaction from the mother did not elicit the right response from Jack, instead, it reinforced his behavior. Since traditional methods of discipline are not necessarily effective for children with special needs, partnering with an ABA professional at learning centers dedicated to children who require special attention will help you in reinforcing positive behavior by analyzing your child’s responses.

Be Sensitive To Their Needs As Well

In lieu of punishments, consequences can be administered instead. If done properly, positive behavior can be fostered. For instance, if Jack is taught that by not throwing a tantrum in the store, he gets to play with his toys at home, it can reinforce positive behavior. In this case, his toys become reinforcers that encourage good behavior for children. 

In terms of children under the autism spectrum, they might be overly sensitive to some sensations. Parents have to take this into consideration. Your child may be responding to something that is assaulting their senses and this may be the root cause of their behavior. So part of reinforcing positive and preferred behavior is understanding their kids’ needs as well. 

Final Words

When it comes to discipline, the thing that matters the most is encouraging positive behavior. For children with special needs, individual assessments help parents address their kids’ needs. Having an ABA professional to work with is an effective way to further reinforce positive behavior in a child with special needs. Learning and therapy centers such as Pulse TLC help parents with teaching, disciplining and diagnosing neurodevelopmental disorders in children. If you wish to learn more about Applied Behavioral Analysis Therapy, talk to our experts at Pulse today. 

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