Autism and the follow through: when disciplining, stick to your guns

Stuart Duncan


One of the more challenging things to do is discipline your children… book stores and libraries could fill entire sections just with books on the subject, there’s just so many opinions, methods, taboos and other topics to be aware of.

The one aspect that almost all agree on, and is also the most tricky to accomplish, is following through with your threats.

For example, my boys would not go to sleep once in bed… I can’t keep separating them, I can’t let them stay up late and make life harder for their teachers at school due to them being over tired… what do I do?

Well, I certainly can’t threaten them with much in the here and now… it’s bed time, they have pj’s on, they’re in bed. What can I take away? What kind of time out could I give them?

The most obvious thing to do is to threaten to take away something they like for the next day… in my boy’s case, television, video games, treats… it’s different for every child as every child has something different they really love.

Whatever it is that you decide upon, you must follow through. It doesn’t matter if you threaten to take away their favorite hat or their will to live.. what ever it is, you better stand firm on that the next day and remind them what you said, what they did and why you have no choice but to take it away.

All children are smart, all children are clever… they will learn very quickly what an empty threat is if you make one. If you threaten to take away treats the next day, you better do it.. no matter what happens that next day.

In the case of a child with Autism, it’s doubly true because depending on how exactly Autism affects your child (everyone is different), there’s a good chance that the one time that you cave, will be the one and only time that is retained with any clarity. What I am trying to say is, they’ll forget the 6 times you held firm and remember the 1 time you didn’t.

As you can imagine, something like that would make all future threats of discipline a very futile task, and they’ll tell you that too. “Go to sleep or I’ll take away tv all day tomorrow.” will be met with “No! No taking away tv tomorrow! I will watch tv so there!”

You don’t have to be ruthless, you don’t have to threaten to take away much really… so long as you stick to your guns. If you say it, you had better mean it. Because if you have no intention on following through, you’ll only be making things harder for yourself from there on out.

Courtesy of Stuart Duncan

To share your personal stories of how autism has affected your life, your family's struggles and triumphs, email them to info@autismsupportnetwork.com to have them shared here


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