My poor little Bear has been having a bit of a rough time lately. He's getting into a whole heap of trouble at school and at home, which is pretty hard on everyone, especially him. Imagine being six years old and never being able to do anything right? Poor little guy. (Note: We're hoping his meds just need to be increased. He's grown 2 inches and put on 5 lbs since July, which is a fair amount.)
TheODDDad and I have never punished Bear for something that happened at school. The school hands out discipline for infractions, so it seems silly to punish him twice. If they've taken something he really likes away, why would we do the same thing? If he did something here and I punished him, TheODDDad wouldn't then hand out a second punishment, would he? Now, that's not to say we don't talk to Bear about whatever happened, but that's different.
How to discipline Bear has long been a conundrum for us. Convensional wisdom holds that children must be disciplined when they do something wrong in order to learn from their mistakes. I understand that -- really, I do. And for most children, it makes sense. But on the other side, imaging studies (MRIs, etc) have shown that the part of the brain affected by ADHD is the part that regulates emotion and impulse control, which means that a child is often unable to stop the unwanted behaviour despite knowing it's wrong.
Bear is no dummy. In fact, the school tells us he's "scary brilliant." He knows hitting and kicking are wrong and is the first to get upset when someone else is doing it. He's also extremely remorseful once the dust he's disturbed with all his kicking has settled. The fact of the matter is that no matter how many times we punish him and tell him that what he's doing is wrong, he is still unable to stop himself. That's not to say that someday he won't be able to control his actions, but that day is a long way away. For one thing, he's only six. That plays a big part. Secondly, he needs to learn the skills to recognize how he's feeling and to figure out how to react in an appropriate manner to the things that bother him. Did I mention he's only six?
So in the meantime, what do we do about discipline? If he kicks me or throws something at me, how should I react? Is there any point to punishing him, or is that simply punishing him for the sake of punishing him. He knows it's wrong, so I'm not teaching him anything. On the other hand, allowing your child to "get away" with transgressions seems to be the opposite of good parenting. On the other, other hand (trust me, you need three hands minimum when you have a child with behavioural challenges), if he really is lacking the skills necessary to behave in an appropriate manner then I can no more get mad at him than I could get mad at a child who has never been taught to read for not knowing how to read.
See the conundrum? What would you do?