Disciplining my child with Down Syndrome
Do not underestimate my child’s understanding of right and wrong!
Over the past 10 years I have read up on, listened to and watched others, to find the best way to bring up Kyd as a child with Down Syndrome but also as a child in general. What I have learnt is that actually there is no difference just a few extra hurdles for those with disabilities.
Like any other parent, my aim is to bring him up the best way I can. Give him every opportunity to be the best he can possibly be and become a decent and loved person... we just have it a little harder than most to enforce those opportunities through illness, progression and through prejudice but let’s face it, so do many others without disability, so this isn’t a hurdle that can’t be beat with the right understanding of the world and the right understanding of other people.
We have yet to come across any sort of prejudice first hand but I know several people that have. I constantly read about how people with Down Syndrome come up against prejudice in the big wide world and so this does worry me for years to come but I think it is how you prepare them for this which is the key.
Kyd will be fine in the future and he will have the life and the job he loves until he hits old age, I just know it. As he has this ability to get what he wants already aged 10, a determination that you can see growing every day and a way about him that makes everybody smile.
He is a 10 year old boy, he misbehaves, he has tantrums and he stomps around like any other 10 year old would when he doesn't get his way. I struggle with him because he's so strong but I knew this was coming and so I put the ground work in early.... I TOLD HIM OFF REGULARLY! Making him completely able to make the decisions of what is right and what is wrong... obviously he is at a different level to a 10 year old and understanding danger is a big problem but if he gets told off for something once.... he doesn't do it again! (well most of the time). This is how I know he will get on fine in life and follow instructions at school or at work!
I don’t see why he wouldn’t achieve anything he put his heart to really, if I’m completely honest I think he will probably have more opportunities than others because of the way he is. When I say that, I don’t mean because of his Down Syndrome I mean because of him, his personality, his humour, his determination and his people skills. He is probably the most sociable and determined person I have ever met and he has this way of making you smile and think twice about original thoughts and prejudices. I have had several people say to me ‘I thought downs kids were different to that, you know’ and my response is always ‘they are no different than you or me!’
I often see people looking at him and smiling when out and about, whilst he wipes the sick up from his brothers face after feeding him, when he shouts my name from across the room and then when I respond to him, he shouts ‘smells’ really loudly, when he has a fit of giggles at a man in a Manchester Utd shirt dropping something down his front on a bus and then says ‘they’re rubbish’... making several people pat him on the head.
I often see people smile at him but I never wonder why, he’s just funny and I don’t think this will ever change.
I do think though this is due to the way we are with him, the way he has been brought up. I am not blowing my own trumpet here, I am blowing the ones of all those around us though, as they have had a huge role to play in the way he is today.
I see others struggling to deal with Kyd’s behaviour and making excuses for him instead of telling him off and I am constantly saying politely (and shouting at them in my head) ‘DISCIPLINE HIM’ it is key for others to tell him off too, he needs to learn. I also see people fussing over him because he is ‘different’ and I think ‘unwrap the cotton wool for god’s sake or he will never learn’. What would you do with a ‘normal’ child if they were misbehaving? You’d tell them off... so why are you saying ‘ahhh bless him, he doesn’t understand’, when he blatantly does understand it?! Don’t underestimate him, Kyd knows exactly who he can play up with and who he can’t, he knows who will pity him and who will tell him to stop being silly. HE ISN’T STUPID! He is laughing at you because he thinks he can get away with it, he’s devious and cunning... just like any other 10 year old boy... and this is the case in most children with certain disabilities!
I have been very clear to everyone around us that if you see Kyd misbehaving you tell him off. I’d expect that for Rocky in the future too as a ‘normal’ child, so why not him. I think it is key to knowing boundaries and key to having respect for those around you to have others pipe up when you are in the wrong. I grew up being told off by any adult in my presence if I was naughty and I think we are all too scared to do so now, especially in the presence of disability.
I know that some have very good reasons for the way they behave and so you must never judge at first sight but its funny how you can tell instantly the difference between ones with ‘cotton wool’ mums and ones of whom have genuine reasons as to why they behave the way they do, just by watching the reaction of the parent.
I wouldn’t recommend screaming at a random child in the street obviously but I do think sometimes, when appropriate, you do need to step up and say ‘Behave yourself’ no matter what their ability.
What I have learnt from Kyd and from those around me, is that treating him as though he is no different than any of his peers will give him the best start in life. When he grows up he will have to deal with the real world, giving him the real world now will give him the opportunity to learn to step over those who put him down and jump over those hurdles presented to him in the future.
I think you’ll be seeing a lot more of Kyd and his friends in the future too, so just remember this...
Treat others how you would wish to be treated yourself and don’t underestimate the ones ‘you think’ don’t understand... because they more than likely do and they are more likely to be laughing at and pitying you, than you are them.