NORFOLK - One of the most essential and daunting tasks for parents is practicing discipline.

Parents of children with special needs have the additional challenge of implementing an appropriate discipline plan that helps their children exercise self-control without overwhelming or shaming them. Clear and consistent rules lead to feelings of safety and security. Promoting positive behavior contributes to increased self-esteem, independence, respect, and confidence.

Tip 1: Learn About Your Child's Condition.
To understand your child's behavior, you have to understand the factors that affect it including his or her condition. So no matter what challenge your child is facing, try to learn as much about the unique medical, behavioral, and psychological factors that affect his or her development.
Read up on the condition and ask the doctor about anything you don't understand. Also talk to members of your child's care team and other parents (especially those with kids who have similar issues) to help determine if your child's challenging behavior is typical or related to his or her individual challenges.
Empathy is the key the child with special needs has a condition that needs to be acknowledge, accepted and understood; AND it is critical that we not let the facts of the condition block our vision of the child as a whole person. All children want to belong and feel significant.

Tip 2: Misbehavior is a normal part of every child's growth and development. As they grow, children continue to test their limits for many different reasons.
Establishing rules and discipline are a challenge for any parent. So keep your behavior plan simple and work on one challenge at a time.
Be consistent - The benefits of discipline are the same whether kids have special needs or not. In fact, kids who have trouble learning respond very well to discipline and structure. But for this to work, parents have to make discipline a priority and be consistent
Discipline means to teach and guide a child. Positive discipline is teaching and guiding a child, while remembering to respect who they are as an individual and support them in developing to their fullest potential.

Tip 3: Children communicate through behavior and all behavior meets a need.
Many times we label children as 'misbehaving' when they are really just trying to figure out how the world works and how they work in it.
When we (as parents) ask the question, 'Where is this behavior coming from, and how can I help?' we can redirect 'misbehavior' into a more acceptable or socially appropriate and safe way of getting that same need met.
One of the keys is to remember, 'If you take away a behavior, you must replace it with a behavior that meets the same need.' CHKD has a special workshop coming up on Oct. 16th to help with this important issue.

Workshop for Parents:
Positive Discipline with the Special Needs Child
October 16 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
6th Floor Conference Room at CHKD

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