Special needs twins and discipline is a pretty tricky path to navigate. Not only is there the special needs aspects, which has its own special rules. But there is also the twin element and that’s a whole nother ball game! This is a post about how we pick our way through this minefield. It’s a story of triumph, failure and gallons of wine.
Special Needs Kids and Discipline
Before we ‘named it’, my husband and I used to pull our hair out with anger, frustration and guilt. We would get so upset with the kids for being ‘naughty’. You almost take it personally and at the same time blame yourself for being a terrible parent. Not to mention the fear you have of them crossing roads, touching hot stoves and eating something poisonous. I have to be honest that there were some smacks too. And of course the guilt that follows. But nothing seemed to work with them.
Luckily those days are in the past. We managed to turn a corner at the beginning of the year. If you’ve been reading my blog, you will know that we’ve had a tough time with school. But I must give credit where credit is due. Their Grade R teacher was the one who put everything in perspective. She was also the one who managed to implement the idea of boundaries, which we have managed to follow on with. It wasn’t a pretty process and is still an ongoing. But at least we are on top of it. And it’s made life much more harmonious and enjoyable.
Special Needs Twins and Discipline
Getting in between twins can be hard. It can be a real challenge to break into their special world. It’s a world that they understand and can handle. And if the outside world gets crazy and hard to process, then they retreat into their safe cocoon of two.
Another aspects of this twin world is the fact that if one gets disciplined, the other gets very upset. Because they are so close and dependent on each other, often discipline has to be meted out to both. And the same goes for rewards. I think I’m so aware of not favouring one over the other, that this is probably something that I’m also instilling in them. Not the best idea for trying to create independent humans, I know! But I really find it hard to not give them exactly the same of everything.
Special Needs Discipline Hints and Tips
This is what we’ve learnt about disciplining our special needs twins. We are by now means models parents with model kids, but these methods work for us on the most part. There are still bad days, but they have become fewer and further apart. (I have put together a useful infographic with these hints and tips.)
Shouting and smacking doesn’t work. And special needs kids are often very sensitive to load noises and sudden movements. I know that sometimes you need to shout to keep your kid safe. But we try to limit this. It’s an idea to try and step away from the situation. And of course this is where the wine comes in. Have a glass of Pinotage, take a deep breath and try again.
If your child is in the cycle, give them some time to calm down too. My kids are super sensitive when tired, hungry and after too much sugar. Take this into consideration and try and be understanding. Television is a good solution as this gives them time to regroup and be passive. And if they will allow it, a nice warm hug can also help. I like to get some protein and water into them as this can also help. Unfortunately naps are a thing of the past but a warm bath and an earlier bed time is also a solution.
This has been one of the most difficult parts of discipline but has yielded the best results. Set reasonable boundaries and make them clear. Don’t deviate from them. Our kids have an enormous amount of tantrum and whining stamina. But we try hard not to give in. Rather try to distract them, if possible.
Everybody Loves Rewards
Reward for good behaviour. I prefer to build up to a reward such as getting a sticker for each good deed with a nice something at the end. This is also good for delaying gratification. It must be said that sometimes there is plain old bribery with ice cream. And obviously there are threats too. We are only human after all. But delayed rewards are definitely better.
Set a Time Frame
My kids find the world hard to come to terms with at times. They are really not great with change. This is evident in their eating the same foods, watching the same movies and saying the same things in the same order. If we want them to do something or to stop doing something, we give a 2 minute warning. They have learnt that we are strict about the two minutes and have less meltdowns. At least it’s predictable and for them, predictable is good.
How do you Discipline your Special Needs Kids?
I would love to hear your hints and tips. Discipline is a process that takes time, for both parents and children. And it’s a process that always can do with improvement. Please drop me an email or comment below.