Develop a range of techniques and skills that you can use.
When developing these techniques you need to keep in mind that children with learning and behavioural difficulties need to be treated differently to others. It can be useful to talk with other parents who have developed some successful techniques to manage difficult child behaviours and which promote children learning to be in control of themselves.
Be aware that these children may have difficulty with non-verbal communication so tapping your foot, hands on hips and firm eye contact may not work for them. Punishing them rarely, if ever, works. It has been said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result. If what you are doing is not working then try something different.
If you haven’t developed a range of techniques, there is every chance that when the pressure is on, you will be unable to effectively manage your own responses, and may be reactive instead of proactive.
Gain an understanding of the condition your child has.
If you understand how and why your child behaves the way they do you will be in a better position to understand them and develop appropriate techniques to manage their behavior (and in turn help them manage their own behavior). We accept that adults have performance anxiety but we often don’t give the same recognition to children. If children are in a constant heightened state of tension/anxiety, they will not be able to think clearly and their behaviour will likely be inappropriate.
Many children with learning difficulties experience undiagnosed anxiety disorders so it may be useful to seek the advice of your doctor, school guidance officer or another professional who is able to help. Investigating possible causes for the learning or behaviour problem, e.g. diet, food additives, sleep disorders etc may also be useful.
Develop a philosophy of child raising that includes the statement - “first do no harm”.
When developing your parenting tools, continually refer back to your parenting philosophy to ensure the tools fit with the philosophy, and change what needs to be changed. Unfortunately some of the common parenting techniques do cause harm to children with learning difficulties, as they don’t process information the same as most children. This is not a case of intentional harm-causing, but the fact that no child comes with an instruction manual!
Routine and structure for the normal day-to-day things. For example, having a plan for...
- getting out of bed and ready for school
- getting home from school
- doing homework, jobs and play time
- eating the evening meal
- getting ready for bed
- behaviour management (both proactive and reactive)
... can help a great deal, as children are consistently aware of what is expected of them on a daily basis.
Have the plans written down as check lists using pictures and diagrams if needed, and having them in accessible, visible areas will be useful.