I read somewhere that when parenting, bribes are a bad idea, used only by desperate parents. Okay, BUT all parents bribe their children from time to time...right??
C'mon, I know i’m not the only one! :)
I'm an autistic parent and I don't know how I'd survive without bribing my son - I HAVE to do it all the time.
I don't like to think of it as bribes though, I prefer to think of it as incentives.
It’s basically what “first/then” is based on!
First you eat that fruit or vegetable, THEN you can get your favourite cereal,
FIRST you have a bath and THEN you can play Sonic on the play station,
FIRST you do your homework THEN you can go to the supermarket.
For the longest while I've been trying to get my twelve year old son to stay in his bed all night and nothing's been working - true story. So once again A couple days ago, i put on my bribing incentive hat and started saying this to him at bed time:
"FIRST you go to bed and stay in your bed all night, no waking up in the middle of the night to go to mommy and daddy's room, THEN you can get a mug treat to carry to school for snack time." ( I know I know the grams of sugar alone yikes! #badmom but he's been nagging me for it so I decided to use it to motivate him to do what I want duh?! #autismmom101)
1st Night....no luck, he still came in our room. He thinks he so slick too packing his favourite mug treat in his lunch bag the morning after! But I said to him "oh no buddy you never did what you were supposed to do...no mug treat for you!" #sorrynotsorry "You know what you have to do".
2nd Night...same as above.
3rd Night...SUCCESS SUCCESS SUCCESS and we made a big deal out of it...because that's what we do right? ABA 101, reward the behaviours we want repeated?? Right? All we really want is to be able to sleep comfortably in our bed - it is our bed for crying out loud.
So why do "experts" think it's a no-no, that it's bad? Why are they trying to make me feel like a bad parent for bribing my kiddo?
Here are some reasons given by the experts:
1. Children shouldn't be "rewarded" for behaviour they should do anyway.
2. When kids get older, they won't get rewards for doing what they're supposed to do.
3. When children are rewarded for a desired behaviour they actually do less of the behaviour.
4. When children get used to constant rewards for doing what we ask, we're training them that the reason to do what we ask is because they'll "get" something.
ehrrrrmmm Okay all true generally...but here's the thing my child has autism...my child is atypical. He actually won't do the preferred behaviour unless he IS reworded. But let's face it all of us need a little incentive to do the right thing and give up the things we really want...sometimes...right?
Bottom line? My son has autism and will continue to have autism when he's fifty. So I have to do what I have to do, and if that means bribing or giving appropriate incentives then I will continue to do it. Once the preferred behaviour is established I know how to start backing off. It's part of the autism parent DNA or rather what we’ve been taught and as far as my child is concerned, incentives motivate him so once I'm being smart about it and using my discretion and mom's intuition, all will be well - I have no doubt!
Ps: we are still working on that preferred behaviour , this momma’s still out here bribing sighhhhhh....fingers crossed he'll start staying in his bed all night soon!
to exercise or not to exercise...
"Movement is a medicine for creating change in a person's physical, emotional and mental states."
Children need to exercise and we should encourage them to do so. Children with autism though may need a bit more encouragement unless it's something they're passionate about.
I've done some reading and apparently vigorous activity helps manage behaviours, such as hyperactivity in children with autism. It also helps children engage more in the environment, along with the usual benefit of promoting good health overall...and that's what we want right?
But here’s the thing with my son, unless it includes swimming or dancing and jumping up and down to music, he's usually not interested in exercising, sports or any other physical activity.
He recently surprised me though....and he does that a lot, by the way. 😄
I had decided to go on my treadmill, and while I was on it he came over and asked me if he could have a turn... In my head I danced and I screamed "YASSSS!” but in actuality I responded “of course you can!”
I jumped on that very spontaneous request and interest, asked him to put on his sneakers and taught him how to use the treadmill.
It was an amazing feeling watching him walk on that treadmill, working out the balance, attempting to let go of the handles.
Now that I know he is interested, even if it's only a slight interest, my plan is to use that interest to encourage more physical activity. I’ve found that when I do that it makes things so much easier because my son is motivated to do what I’m telling him to do.
But even though he's motivated and excited and now therefore I am, I have to stay calm, I have to plan properly and remind myself that he may lose interest. My role here is not to be an overzealous personal trainer, my role here is to be mom, to stay calm and promote a safe environment for my son and as with anything I’m introducing for the first time I have to be supportive and positive and always always use encouraging words.
So here’s our summer exercise plan:
We’ll continue exploring the treadmill, increasing speed and incline when he’s comfortable and then we’ll add these exercises:
1. Jumping Jacks
2. Star jumps
3. Bear claws annnnnd
4. Burpees....nah I’m just kidding why would I inflict such torture on my son! 🤣
We’ll definitely start off slowly, maybe only five reps per exercise but the most important thing is that it will be fun at all times...no pressure whatsoever. I want him to love exercise and I want it to be a part of his daily routine because I strongly believe that being active could improve his coping skills, and definitely enhance his overall quality of life.
Do you have any specific goals for your children this summer? If you do, stay strong, and GOOD LUCK!
Hi, I am Francene...aka @drummerboysmom on Instagram and drummerboyZmom on twitter. I'm an over 40 expat mommy raising a daughter with an old soul and a son with autism in beautiful Jamaica.