Blog #104~ Parenting and Discipline
I recently was in a conversation with two young mothers of school age children. Both were talking about how much they did for their kids. One mom commented that her daughter was old enough to make her own bed. Yet she would do it herself because her daughter did it so sloppily. The other one talked about scrambling to get the lunches made and double checking to see if all the homework was in their backpacks. I scratched my head and wondered about this. Why weren’t they using these opportunities to help foster independence in their children? I think as a mom, sometimes it’s just easier to do it yourself instead of constant reminders and nagging. But in the long run, this does nothing to teach your child responsibility. Which brings me to my point this week; parenting is not only disciplining your child but also staying disciplined yourself.
When you are raising a child with special needs, it is even more difficult to teach independent living skills. Things take longer to learn with deficits in speech, gross motor and fine motor skills. The process of putting on shoes and socks can be a ten minute ordeal. With the bus coming at 7:25 a.m. the morning may not be ideal to use as a teaching moment. But you can carve out chunks of time to practice independent living skills during down times.
My son, Nick is now 20 years old. He has Down syndrome and autism. Once at a high school conference, his teachers and therapists pointed out how good he was at self-care (in fact the strongest student in the class). I attribute this to three things:
1. Providing those teaching moments to practice skills
2. Using visuals so he can be prompted
3. Staying disciplined in the routine rather than just doing it myself
The most challenging thing I have ever done was getting my son with special needs toilet trained. It is also happens to be the greatest thing that I have accomplished in my life. It was certainly a marathon, not a sprint. In fact it was the longest and hardest marathon imaginable. And we stepped in a LOT of poop along the way.
When I look back at that road, one thing stands out on how Nick finally got toilet trained. It was DISIPLINE! Yes, I worked with autism specialists, went to potty training workshops and used visuals. But nothing worked until I disciplined myself to create a timed toileting schedule and stick with it. This (combined with the fact that Nick finally was mature enough), led to the success of him getting out of Depends and into underwear. And that was a glorious sight to see. 🙂
It was a long road but we made it to the other side, tada!
The importance of staying disciplined as a parent will pay off in the long run. You can’t wipe your child’s bottom forever. That’s what is in my noggin this week.