5 Ways To Help Control Behavior At Home
By: Suzie Dalien, M.Ed.
Disciplining a child with special needs can be heartbreaking, especially when you know that some of their behavior may not exactly be their fault, but it’s needed in order to make sure your household runs smoothly on a daily basis. All children need guidance and direction, even those with behavior issues such as ADHD and disorders on the autism spectrum, but no matter what the special needs might be it’s a good idea to be consistent in your disciplinary efforts so your child knows just what to expect every time.
1. Provide a structured environment that fosters good behavior.
Most children, need a structured routine as they’re growing up so they can learn how the world works in consistent ways. It’s a good idea to keep a daily schedule of events in plain sight at all times, giving you and your child access to the next step at any point in the day while eliminating any confusion that might arise.
Children who have a structured environment benefit from always knowing what the next transition of the day is, which calms any fears they might have about being bored or not assuming to know what to do. Children with special needs often feel overwhelmed with sudden changes, which can lead to bursts of anger or tears. Making sure your day centers around their schedule is a great way to instill calmer, more rational behaviors.
2. Let your child make some of their own decisions.
Nothing empowers a child more than letting them feel in charge of their life during the times that matter the most, or in which there are great rewards to be had. Present the choices to the child and explain them in clear, simple terms in whichever language suits the child – pictures, talking, hand gestures, etc. It’s good to feel important and like you’re capable of making quality decisions in your life, and children need this reassurance more than anyone else. This behavior will eventually lead to a more confident, less angry child who feels strong and independent.
3. Don’t be so quick to help.
This might sound counter intuitive to all of your natural parenting instincts, but sometimes you need to let them figure out the best course of action on their own. If a child is frustrated and acting out because they can’t find their other shoe, for example, rushing in to find the shoe before the tantrum escalates signals to your child that bad behavior gets positive results: “If I scream, Mommy will take me home.” In such cases where an alternative solution is the answer, be firm and insistent in giving them clues that will help them solve their own dilemma.
The phrase “teach them how to fish rather than give them a fish” would be an accurate description of autonomous living, giving them the chance to come to their own conclusions without the influence of outside help. This helps to raise a child’s self-esteem and overall worth, which often leads to less emotional outbursts when frustrated.
4. Try Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA).
This is a fairly common form of therapy that is often used in children who have issues with their behavior, and is “the process of systematically applying interventions based upon the principles of learning theory to improve socially significant behaviors to a certain degree.” In layman’s terms, this means that when a child acts in a disapproving manner, an intervention takes place to divert the behavior towards something more positive. While practicing ABA, a binder of information is started in which to record the child’s behaviors, preferences and actions, all while setting up a structured disciplinary method for at-home use. Both you and your child’s therapist will have copies of the information so there is a consistent way of dealing with the child and the behaviors, ensuring smooth communication no matter what environment the child is in.
Behavioral therapy might be covered under your private insurance, through your child’s school or as part of a Medicaid/Medicare waiver program. If you are considering using this form of therapy for controlling your child’s behavior in-home, check with the school system first to see if they have access to the information that will set you on the right track.
5. Keep the environment at home as stress-free as possible.
Children with behavioral issues are often more sensitive to stress than other kids, which means fighting or tension at home can lead to feelings of insecurity of anxiety. When events happen out of the ordinary routine, it can cause children with special needs to feel frightened, which could cause tantrums or other emotional outbursts. Every child’s individual stressors are different, so it’s important to gently confirm what the meaning of stress is to them before finding ways to deal with the issues.
If fighting with other family members is an issue, make a pact and conscious decision to table the discussion until a more suitable time. Should stress be caused by barking dogs or ringing telephones, try to limit your child’s exposure to these sounds during their time at home. This can lead your child into the path of calmer behavior and less acting out.
We at Special Education Resource know what you’re going through, and are here to help you every step of the way. Parenting a child with special needs can be tough, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and alone without the right support. From basic information on certain behavioral issues to discipline and positive reinforcement to special education tutoring, we have the special education knowledge to help your child conquer their behavioral barriers to learning.
Firm, consistent discipline that fits in with your child’s own unique sensitivities is the foundation of good behavior, even though it will take time, patience and understanding on your part and some good old-fashioned trial and error. With enough resources and support, you will find a pattern of positive consistency that teaches your child to be responsible and happy.
This entry was posted on Tuesday, November 11th, 2014 at and is filed under Special Education Tips and tagged as Special Education Behaviors. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.