Reducing Aggression in Children with Autism
Many parents of children with Autism have a hard time finding ways to reduce conflict between siblings. They often feel powerless to do anything about the fighting, but this is not the case! This article will talk about some tips for parents of children with Autism to help reduce sibling fighting and make life easier for everyone involved.
1. Create a calm environment
Create a calm environment for siblings to be together and enjoy each other’s company. Try to create a sense of order that’s calming and relaxing, not chaotic or hectic. Put up some photos of family members in the living room to have something new and exciting to look at while playing together.
Sometimes it is hard to find the right environment, but you can use your imagination to create one! Involving your kiddos in the process can help them feel more involved and invested in what’s going on! Allow them to be creative and make some choices about how their playroom environment looks.
You can create a calm atmosphere by playing music, reading books together, or engaging in an activity that’s calming for them both (like painting). Engage them in conversation every day while they’re getting ready to go out into the world! This can help parents learn more about what their children are thinking.
2. Establish boundaries and rules
Establishing rules for your children is a great way to help reduce conflict. With younger siblings, parents need to set boundaries and practices to teach them how the world works (and make life easier).
For older children with Autism, it may be necessary to have some ground rules that they can follow when things get heated between each other.
Some examples of these would include staying at least three feet apart from one another or not saying hurtful words like “stupid” or “idiot.” But, again, parents will need to find what is suitable for their unique situation! It also helps if kids are informed about this before trouble starts so they know how disputes should go down ahead of time.
In addition, parents should clearly state the consequences of breaking these rules, but try to be patient.
Parents may find themselves getting frustrated with their children. Still, it’s essential to try and maintain a sense of patience so that they don’t make things worse. Interacting calmly with them is one way this can happen! For example, encourage your child by telling them that you still love them or remind yourself why you’re doing this in the first place (to help reduce sibling conflict).
It also helps if parents take care of themselves before entering into any conflicts. Take some time out every day, practice breathing techniques outside of the home, and see if it makes a difference! A calm parent can quickly diffuse any situation while!
3. Have clear expectations for behavior from children with Autism
Setting expectations for playtime can help to reduce conflict between kids with Autism. However, parents must have clear expectations so that they can enforce these rules when necessary.
Children with Autism can’t always understand the consequences of their actions.
It may take a lot of effort to help a child with Autism understand what is going on. However, before becoming frustrated or feeling out of control, remind yourself that this is not an issue with the child but rather a developmental disability.
If your children struggle with following rules, be consistent, and contact their pediatrician or therapist for help. Parents of children with Autism will need to be patient and understanding while still holding their child accountable! Guide your kids in the process of establishing rules that work best for them and their families.
Acknowledge what your child does well and try to build on these successes
Try not to focus only on a child’s negative behaviors during playtime. Positive behavior reinforcement is proven to be far more effective than timeouts or scolding.
For example, when you see your child doing something good, say, “I love how you ____” and fill in the blank with something specific to what they’re doing.
“I love how you take turns with your brother, Alex! Can you show me more ways to take turns with your brother”?
Even if your child has a hard time understanding your affirmation, it is important to revisit them. Your affirmations will build their cognition which may help them with impulse control in the future.
Keep a diary of behaviors that are working for you and share this with other parents.
How you track your child’s progress can help both you and their therapist monitor how they’re doing. Keeping a journal of your child’s behavior will help to identify patterns and triggers. When you know what works, it will be easier for your child to succeed at home!
If you notice a pattern, share these entries with your child’s teacher or therapist. When looking over your data, keep in mind what came about leading up to this behavior. This will bring context to your child’s behavior and give you a better understanding of what caused it. Behaviors are easier to prevent than they are to de-escalate later.
Be patient – children with Autism develop skills at different rates, but they will eventually learn them.
When parents see that their children are struggling to play along, they’ll often feel discouraged. But when parents feel discouraged by some of the obstacles they face, their kiddos often also experience emotional distress that affects how they think about themselves.
Focus on your children’s progress rather than their shortcomings. You’ll be more successful if you look at this in a positive light! And you will help build self-esteem in your child when they see that you still believe in them.
However, it’s important to remember that children with Autism may learn new skills or improve old behaviors slower than their peers. This is not because of intelligence but rather due to developmental delays and differences in brain chemistry. So be patient and understanding, and be sure to praise your child for the things they do well!
Be consistent in enforcing rules for behavior – if you don’t implement the same direction repeatedly, it won’t work.
Your expectations will only work if you are consistently enforcing them. Children are wired to test boundaries, so make sure you stick to your guns and not give in your child “stretching” the rules. Suppose you are changing your expectations or giving them too many chances. In that case, it will confuse them and increase the chances of a meltdown being triggered.
Try not to punish your child when they are having a meltdown – use distraction or redirection instead.
Meltdowns are inevitable, especially with children diagnosed with Autism. However, savvy parents can help put an end to these moments by staying calm and compassionate.
The goal is to redirect the child’s attention and not stay in destructive behavior mode. When you see your child having one of these moments, it can be helpful if you make sure they are safe from harm while also keeping them engaged with something else that will keep their mind off what caused the meltdown. This includes playing with something they enjoy, allowing them to watch an enjoyable show on TV, or play with a favorite toy.
Once the child calms down, ask them how they feel about what happened–were they scared? Frustrated? Bored? This method of labeling feelings and emotions will help children to communicate their needs without letting strong feelings overwhelm them.
It’s also essential for parents to be sensitive when their child has a meltdown and not just try to force them out of it. This can put your child in more distress and make the situation worse! Instead, use comforting methods like hugs, reassurance, and slow, deep breathing to help your child.
Our Autism Parenting e-book has excellent information on managing your child’s behavior and what to do when they have a meltdown. Download your free copy – https://abetterdaytherapycenter.org/autism-parenting-e-book/
4. Provide consistent consequences and rewards
There are ways that you can make parenting children with Autism easier through consistency and rewards. Consistency is vital because it helps your child know when they have done something wrong or right. This will help them learn how to behave appropriately in different situations as well as build self-esteem.
Rewards also teach your child what behavior will get them positive attention from others while making life more enjoyable for everyone involved.
Create a reward chart with pictures of the desired behavior, as well as a list of potential rewards
Rewards charts are popular with children, and the best way to work with them is to have consistency. Reward charts show a child how good behaviors accumulate to big rewards. They also help keep parents from forgetting about rewards and penalties.
When you make the chart, try to provide pictures of behavior so that your child can picture what they’re doing well when working on their goal. In addition, it can be helpful to create a list of potential rewards for when they achieve their goal.
Use positive reinforcement to encourage good behaviors.
Positive reinforcement for good behaviors in your child is one of the most effective ways to help them build self-esteem. It is also a way for children with Autism to set and achieve goals that they might not have been able to before.
Positive reinforcement is something that you do at the moment to encourage good behaviors. Basically, if your child behaves well, they get a reward. But, of course, the best rewards come from the child, such as a favorite activity or food.
Positive reinforcement can be used with children of any age to help them learn what kind of behaviors parents would like to see more often. It is always best if the parents come up with incentives and rewards for their own child because they know what things are most enjoyable in that individual’s
Be consistent in your reactions and responses, no matter how you’re feeling on any given day.
Frequently, parents’ ability to keep up with the needs of their children is dependent on how they are feeling. However, this can be detrimental to the children. Therefore, it is important for parents not to change their expectations and reactions, even on difficult days.
This will help your child learn that no matter what happens in life, there’s always someone who loves them unconditionally. This can be a compelling lesson for a child with Autism because it teaches that it is not a bad thing no matter how different they are.
Parenting children with Autism can be challenging at times because there are behaviors that come from the disability and others which might just be part of their personality. It’s important to remember that while the child may always have some autism-related challenges, you will still need to help them set and achieve goals.
5. Give timeouts when necessary, but not in excess.
Giving a timeout is good when you want to teach your child something important. However, sometimes children get too excited and do inappropriate things–sometimes even harmful. For these times, you may want to put your child in timeout to remember our expectations.
But it is not always practical because children with Autism may not understand what the timeout means. In addition, timeouts with no meaning can actually make the child’s behavior worse.
For this reason, it is best to give timeouts only when necessary and not in excess. When using a timeout, be sure that the behavior has been acknowledged first before putting your child in a safe place to reflect. Otherwise, they won’t learn anything from it.
6. Help teach the kids how to cooperate and take turns.
We all know that kids can be rough on each other and sometimes take turns to the extreme. Unfortunately, when a sibling has Autism, this behavior may become more pronounced or even worse. For your children to learn how to cooperate and take turns, you must teach them these skills in a manner they understand.
Teach the kids how to play a cooperative game
Games that require turn-taking are a great way to develop social skills in children who have Autism. For example, passing a ball is an excellent example of a cooperative game playing indoors or out.
Catch and release games are also effective because they teach kids how to take turns while playing with others who may not understand the concept of taking turns. For example, you can choose an object that will be passed from one person to another for a minute at a time or until someone drops it.
Put Away any toys that are too competitive or only one person can use.
Suppose your children often fight over toys not designed for cooperative play. In that case, you may want to put them away while improving their turn-taking skills. Of course, they can still play with the toy, but they need to do it in a way that everyone can enjoy.
If your child with Autism doesn’t want to share their comfort toy, you can help their sibling understand what it means to have unique toys. You can then allow them to find their own unique object that they can have for themselves.
While parenting children with Autism can be challenging at times because there are behaviors that come from the disability and others which might just be part of their personality, it is essential to remember that your child will always have some challenges related to Autism. It’s good for you to establish boundaries and rules early on, so they understand what behavior falls in line or outside of those expectations.
For parents looking to connect, many online resources are available for you. One such resource is the Autism Parenting E-Book. This e-book has a variety of tips and information that can help parents in this unique journey.
The e-book is free, and it is full of information that will be beneficial to anyone who is a parent or who works with children on the autism spectrum.
Download your Free Autism Parenting E-Book here: https://abetterdaytherapycenter.org/autism-parenting-e-book/