Let’s talk about the Alternatives to Discipline!

Home of the Son-Rise Program

Let’s talk about the Alternatives to Discipline!

From the Merriam-Webster dictionary – Definition of discipline (verb):
1. to punish or penalize for the sake of enforcing obedience and perfecting moral character
2. practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience

“When working with parents from all over the world, from different cultures and different backgrounds, one question that often comes up for many of them is: ‘How should we discipline our child on the Autism Spectrum for ‘misbehaving’, or when they are ‘acting out’?

“I am sure we would all agree that we would like to help our children to function well in society, follow rules, and be kind and respectful towards themselves and others. However, the methods of how to help our children get there can vary hugely!

“Even though it is commonly used, and has been used for centuries, the idea of using discipline or punishment to help a child when they are ‘misbehaving’, is an extremely ineffective way of addressing this issue. Our children’s behaviors are often a symptom of something bigger that is happening for them, and we need to first understand what is really going on (the true root cause of their behavior), before we can address it effectively.

“Secondly, the idea of discipline and punishment seeks to correct a behavior through the means of shame, embarrassment, and/ or fear – which leaves our children feeling bad about themselves, unsuccessful, and often discouraged.

“We humans have been taught, systematically, to judge as a way to change what we do not like. It is ingrained in us. ‘How else would my child know how to behave ‘appropriately’, if I didn’t tell them when they are been ‘bad’?”

“In The Son-Rise Program, we believe that we do not have to call it ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’; we do not have to judge our children and their behaviors, in order to inspire them to change. When our children are doing something we do not want them to do, we can still set clear, strong boundaries without the judgments…This is the alternative way to the traditional discipline methods – its’ a lot more effective, and it feels much better for everyone involved!

“Let’s take a look at what this alternative way of helping our children behave in a respectful, loving, and socially-successful way looks like:

“Traditional way of disciplining children
Tell the child that what they are doing is ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’. E.g. ‘Now, you are being a bad boy…’ or ‘Don’t be a bad girl!’

“The Son-Rise Program way of inspiring changes in our children
Approach all of our children’s behaviors from a non-judgmental place, knowing that our children are always doing their best, while trying to communicate something that is important to them.
They are not being ‘bad’, they are most likely struggling socially and/or sensory-wise.

“Traditional way of disciplining children
Does not seek to understand the root causes of our children’s behaviors – without an understanding that our children have huge challenges with processing sensory input and social situations, which can often look like our children are “misbehaving”.

“The Son-Rise Program way of inspiring changes in our children
We want to be a detective! Look at our children’s behaviors and actions, and seek to understand them.
Before our children ‘act out’ – we look for signs of when they might be experiencing sensory overload or Red Lights. We allow our children to ism (stim), which leads to a calmer and more responsive child.

“Traditional way of disciplining children
Ask the child to apologize – hoping that the child feels remorseful for ‘misbehaving’, so that they choose not to behave that way again in the future.

“The Son-Rise Program way of inspiring changes in our children
Help our children feel like they can be successful in doing what we are asking them to do. With our help, they can turn around and behave in a way that is respectful. Them feeling ‘bad’ about themselves will not help them change.

“Traditional way of disciplining children
Give some type of punishment – time out, taking away privileges, taking away preferred toys… so that the child will not want to do that behavior anymore.

“The Son-Rise Program way of inspiring changes in our children
Model to our children ourselves how we want them to be, ask them to do what we want (be kind, gentle, respectful), and then celebrate them when they do behave that way – whatever we focus on more, grows!

“Traditional way of disciplining children
Boundaries can be about the safety and well-being of the children and those around them, but are not limited to that.

“The Son-Rise Program way of inspiring changes in our children
We set clear and specific boundaries with things that have to do with our children’s safety and well-being, and the safety and well-being of those around them.

“Traditional way of disciplining children
Rarely offers clear and specific explanations to the child of why we would want them to behave in a certain way, or not to do X, Y, or Z…

“The Son-Rise Program way of inspiring changes in our children
Explain to our children why we want them to behave in a certain way, or change certain behaviors, and why we are setting boundaries. We explain how the boundaries will help them (as well as help everyone else involved).

“Traditional way of disciplining children
Some methods of discipline might incorporate physically moving the child to do the ‘task at hand’ – this allows the caregiver to do ‘hand-over-hand’ activities or physically move the child, so they comply with the expectations.

“The Son-Rise Program way of inspiring changes in our children
What we do with and around our children, is what we teach them. We want to be aware of what behaviors we (and others) are modeling to our children.
If we do not want our children to use physical force to move others or to get what they want, we suggest avoiding physically manipulating our children as well.

“Traditional way of disciplining children
Sometimes isolates the child for a time-out.

“The Son-Rise Program way of inspiring changes in our children
Help and support our children to take steps to feel good about themselves, so that they would want to cooperate and participate in the things we want for them.”

Camila Titone, Senior Son-Rise Program Teacher

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *