Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Discipline Is Love

First off, my apologies for not posting last week!  Life has been crazy busy, and I promise to be more consistent and not neglect you all :) Now onto the good stuff...

This post will be deviating from my usual talk of middle schoolers, as I spent six weeks working with preschoolers and wanted to share my experience.  Although it was a part-time position, my summer job really kept me busy and I’m excited to relax and enjoy the few weeks of summer left before I return my middle schoolers.

Working with the 5 and under population was definitely a nice change of pace from the adolescents that I typically deal with. However, working with the little ones was not without its challenges. There were moments where I felt like a human punching bag, as I was kicked, slapped, and swatted at!

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m no stranger to my students exhibiting aggressive behavior, but it’s normally verbal instead of physical. After speaking to co-workers, it became apparent that there were a few “repeat offenders.” Children who were known to be physical with adults as well as their peers. As many of you know, the less expressive language a child possess, the more their frustrations build up.  This consequently leads to “inappropriate” behaviors like hitting. As it turned out, many of the children who were demonstrating the hitting, screaming, etc. were also the ones with limited expressive language abilities. Apologies if I made it seem like all non-communicative students were physically aggressive, as that is not the case and I had my share of quiet angels as well.

Show love by disciplining with love.
We are creatures of habit, if I cry until I get my building blocks then I will cry the next time. Many of the children I treated this summer appeared to lack discipline and structure in their home life and were thus behaving the way there were accustomed to in preschool. Structure and discipline are very important foundations for all children, especially those with special needs as there will be implications later down the road (e.g. school, work, etc.).
How can discipline begin at home?
1. Provide positive reinforcement for good behaviors (e.g. tangible rewardsmile, praise etc.)
2. Provide negative reinforcement for bad behaviors (e.g. time-out, indicate to child your displeasure: “no” or “stop”).
3. Be consistent.

I am not a parent, but I understand the frustrations associated with special needs children. They require more patience and tolerance than most but they also require the same discipline and structure that are provided to their typically developing counterparts. Not providing them with rules promotes a more chaotic and difficult life. You are loving your child by disciplining them, as you are preparing them for the world.

What forms of discipline have you found to work with your little ones?


  1. You have to be careful with using the "no" word. Using it too much makes it meaningless to little ones. Instead, first always try to ignore and then redirect. If that does not work, then a very short timeout.

  2. Thank you Anonymous#1! Yes Anonymous#2 I agree, all things in moderation and with love. You make a good point about redirecting. I also recommend providing the child with a functional alternative to the negative behavior (not always feasible). For example, turn the child's attempt to swat at you into a high-five by providing your palm as the target instead of your face.

  3. Wow i love this blog it is terrific

  4. Nice post! My caseload is at a K-8th grade school and switching between groups can send my head swimming sometimes. Working with the younger kiddos is fun but it does take a different type of patience then when I am with my older students however I usually have more continuity between home/school with the little ones because the parents want suggestions. Love your blog I just found it (thanks Pinterest)

  5. Carolyn, I'm soo glad you found me. Planning for such a varied caseload must be real challenging! You are right about parent involvement, I wish my MS school parents were half as involved as their younger counterparts. Hoping I get some great parents this upcoming year!!! :)

  6. I'm happy that I found this blog! I have started my second year working at a middle school. I realized last year that working with this age group is not so bad:) However, collaboration with others who work with teenagers is key for me, so I am constantly on the look out for blogs like this one. I'm curious what are your favorite materials and what does your therapy room look like. Thanks for sharing!!

  7. Carla, thank you for stopping by! Totally agree about collaborating. Visit Speech Drive, there are a TON of free activities for you to use with your students:

    I'm gradually shying away from worksheets, they are boring for myself as well as my kiddos!

    You can take a look at materials I've used and plan to use via Pinterest
    1. Middle School -
    2. General SLP materials/info -

    I'll make sure to do a post regarding my room when I return to work :)


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