Should you punish your disabled child?

If your child has Down syndrome, is autistic, or has ADHD, they may have more behavioural problems then children without disabilities. With all the other stresses and strains you may be under while raising a disabled child, this may truly be the last straw for many parents. But should you go as far as to punish your disabled child?

The pros and cons of punishing

Many parents will claim that punishing their child brings stellar results. Children may learn to behave better. However, many parents don’t notice that the only thing children got better at due to punishing was hiding their crimes. Punishment is something that happens when you’re found out – so children learn to be sly.

Also, punishing is a quick and emotionally less costly way of correcting your child’s behaviour. Truly relating to your child, explaining, trying to recognize the underlying causes of their misbehaviours: all these things take time and can be exhausting on top of a difficult day.

Disability and punishment

But if you’re raising a disabled child you need to stop and think. Many children with Down syndrome, ADHD, or autism suffer from sensory integration issues. For this reason, they may sometimes simply be unable to control their behaviour. And if they misbehave because of SPD, then you’re basically punishing them for their illness. Is that fair?

Yes, it is more time-consuming and emotionally engaging to find out the real causes of your child’s naughtiness. But it is more just and helps you build a better, more loving relationship with your child. It also teaches your child they can trust you with anything. Isn’t it worth it?


  1. Bianca

    But sometimes you just don’t know what to do, especially if they are naughty in public… I don’t want to look like a mom who can’t cope with her child…

  2. Sylvia

    Bianca, ask yourself what’s more important. How strangers in the mall perceive you? Or how your child perceives you?


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