How discipline problems arise, and how to deal with them?

Key to understanding the child’s misbehaviour is to look for the underlying goal.  5 specific and frequent goals of children’s misbehaviour are:

  1. Wanting attention
  2. Wanting power
  3. Wanting retaliation or revenge
  4. Showing complete discouragement with self/their gifts/giftedness
  5. Wanting to manage information about themselves and/or hide their gifts/giftedness

Underlying these is also a feeling of inadequacy and/or discomfort with the situation They are discouraged, and do not like themselves or the situation.

Once we are able to understand this unspoken goal, it is much easier to respod appropriately in a way that the child can bagin to feel more encouraged and learn to more appropriately express his feelings and behaviour.

Fortunately, behaviours can be changed. Gifted children are often able to modify their behaviours quickly, if they choose to. To achieve this we must give them appropriate information feedback, limits, and reinforcements when they make progress.

Establish limits

All children need limits and some children such as those who suffer from ADD/ADHD may need even more frequent, consistent and firm limits.

Gifted children can benefit from the guidance of an understanding adult. Remember that giftedness can explain behaviour but should not excuse inappropriate behaviour.

A caring adult can help the child understand the impact of his behaviour on others and thus decrease the likelihood of a repeat incidence.

Avoid feeding the monster of negativity

Glasser and Easley describe an approach that helps parents avoid negative comments during beginning stages of discipline. They encourage parents to:

  1. Recognize and verbally describe out loud what the child is doing,
  2. Acknowledge and praise whatever skills, values, and attitudes you want to see more often in the child, and
  3. Consciously provide consistent structure, limits and consequences in ways where good behaviours receive more attention than bad behaviours.

Consistency is Important

The most important guideline is to set, and enforce limits as consistently as possible. It is also important both parents agree on these limits. When parents differ in standards, limits, and expectations, guidelines for children are unclear, and the result is often underachievement, power struggles, or the manipulation of one or both parents.

Rules and laws in society and at home ensure that people live together safely and cooperatively. Helping your child understand reasons for rules and consequences allows her the opportunity to make better informed choices and her behaviour.

Develop rules as a family

Children should not be allowed to set the rules, or manipulate their parents. However, when children take part in the discussion and feel that their opinions and idea have been considered, they are much more likely to accept and obey the rules.

Just as gifted children are more willing to comply with rules when they see the need for them, they are less likely to go along with rules they see as arbitrary or as displays of adult power. Listen to your child’s reasons in certain situations, sometimes they are valid. The rules your family develops may be somewhat unusual because developmental norms for gifted children are vastly different from what you see in typical children of the same age.

Children learn best through experiences

Whenever possible, enforce limits by allowing natural and logical consequences to occur rather than enforcing a consequence that you create for the child. Natural and logical consequences are almost more effective than ones that are imposed.

Actions speak louder than words

Avoid being tentative changing consequences, and giving mixed messages. Limits are not capricious; they are established for good reasons.

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