Monday, September 27, 2010

Defiance and Discipline

What a mixed week it's been for us. On Friday, my daughter's school behaviorist told me that my daughter had her best week ever--much better than any time in kindergarten! Wow, not bad for her second week of first grade. Especially since I know that my daughter doesn't find first grade to be as much fun as kindergarten. We're also losing our after school behaviorist. We have just one session left with her.

Everything is going great, right? Well, not really. We've had some problem behaviors pop up over the weekend. They're not really new behaviors, but the magnitude of them have increased. My daughter has gotten extremely defiant. She does not do what we ask her to do. She'll apologize afterward, but then do the same bad behavior a few minutes later. It was pretty nonstop this weekend.

I met with the after-school behaviorist's supervisor about the defiance issue. Even though I'm losing the behaviorist, I'm going to be working with the supervisor, doing parent training. This means she's going to try and teach me how to handle behaviors that we want changed.

The approach to changing any type of problem behavior is with positive reinforcement. This generally involves rewarding the child when they are doing the behavior you want them to do! With our daughter, this approach has worked really well with controlling tantrums and reducing her rigid behavior. But I have to be honest: when she's being defiant, it's not the approach I really want to use. My knee-jerk reaction is to be punitive. "If you don't clean up your toys, we're going to take them away for a day" kind of punitive. The supervisor isn't a fan of this approach.

My husband (who, by the way, is absolutely amazing with our daughter) stated today that it's sometimes hard to believe that all problem behaviors can be fixed with positive reinforcement. After all, "many generations of punishment can't be entirely wrong." It's hard to argue with logic like this, although I did point out that discipline for thousands of years involved severe beatings. This approach may not evolve into a fabulous relationship we want with our daughter down the road.

While we should be happy that our daughter is doing well in school and is graduating out of her behavior therapy, we are really worried about losing this service. The defiance isn't helping matters any!

14 comments:

  1. Hopefully the training will be helpful.

    My knee-jerk reaction would be to take things away, too.

    ReplyDelete
  2. defiance has been something we dealt since the latter half of K. My son was never this way before say, march of k year.

    i don't always do positive reinforcement in these cases. our behaviorist just on friday said to take something away since he was defiant to her in school. I just took some computer time away but not all his time away.

    I don't know who has the answers but its very hard dealing with it.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I don't know how well punitive works with a child with Asperger's but it doesn't work with a child with ODD. Not much does. Good luck.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm right there with you. It's rough. Hugs and prayers..

    ReplyDelete
  5. I agree that the first reaction I would have would be to take things away, rather than reward! Discipline really is the worst part of parenting, I think. You really have to find what works for each child, too. With my son, things have to be logical and consistent. Not so much with my daughter.
    Good luck, it's tough!

    ReplyDelete
  6. The timing for losing the behaviorist would never have been good...you can be sure that whenever you would have lost her something would be cropping up....like how your appliances break just after the warranty runs out.

    The punitive stuff is always the kneejerk reaction because that's how most of us were raised. My husband still cannot get the theory of ABA through his head and is constantly calling for punishment...this from someone who was the biggest spoiled brat (or so I hear)!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Here's my question: how do you differentiate between "normal" behavior and behavior that's from her Aspergers? I ask because my daughter can be incredibly defiant also. We're talking hitting, screaming - you name it. But I hesitate to say I can relate b/c my daughter does not have Aspergers. Is this a dumb question?

    ReplyDelete
  8. My knee jerk reaction is to slap the crap out of my kids when the pull stuff like that. Thank God my self control is much better then theirs. Keep posting what youve learned...its helpful. :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Cheryl: That's a really excellent question, and one I scratch my head over. I hear the parents of typical kids also complaining about increase defiance in their kids. It's a gray area. I do not there are times the autism is definitely fueling it. For example, my daughter can be VERY rigid about something. I'd make her clean up one thing that would take 10 seconds. She will dig her heels in and refuse. She'd rather give up the fun activity that she'd have time for afterward then to take the 10 seconds to do what I ask her. When she gets like this, I assume it's the autism!

    ReplyDelete
  10. My son is 48 now. I yelled and spanked, didn't help. At 7 he was defiant until I quit playing his game. I said, "Here's your breakfast, eat it or not," and walked away. Two weeks later he started eating breakfast daily. When he was 16 I stopped turning off his music, which he turned right back on, and after 6 months of ignoring his music he started playing it at a desent level. 6 months is a long time but it was worth the effort. I also prayed a lot daily. He's educated, married, and has two girls.Judy

    ReplyDelete
  11. I know it is difficult to view defiance as anything but negative, however, for us it was a positve sign. My son was so completely compliant for the first 8 or 9 years that when he first became defiant and expressed his preferences, we were actually a little proud and encouraged. It was almost like a sign of maturity and a progression in his communication. Nowadays - we could do with a whole lot less defiance!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Positive reinforcement truly works wonders! I have worked with a lot of children and it is amazing what a difference it can make.

    Good luck and hang in there. It is unfortunate you are losing the service!

    ReplyDelete
  13. I like positive reinforcement too but like you said it's not always easy to employ in the heat of the moment.

    I often find myself going straight to the punitive by threatening to take privileges away. It's not easy.

    I hope this week proves much better for you and your daughter. It is wonderful to hear that she just had her best week ever! So awesome for her :)

    ReplyDelete
  14. It may just be a reaction to the increased pressure and demands of First Grade. I have found that most of my friends who gave girls who are clever and strive to do well at school start behaving badly at home when the work level goes up. It does start to sort itself out. Be realistic in your requests. She is a child and although she may speak intelligently she has the emotions of a 6 year old. I would keep things simple at the weekends for a couple of weeks - not too many trips or visits of family or friends. Let her have some wind down time and make sure that you give her some space. It is hard work being aroundpeople and helpful all weel long.

    ReplyDelete