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This material would be for Down syndrome children of all ages
"And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up."
The "Old Nature"
Your child may have been born with Down syndrome but he was born with an old nature too. He needs training just as much as your other children. There are some things to remember as you train your child with Down syndrome:
The Best Source for Child Training
- Training begins at birth with this child just as it did with your other children.
- Training may take longer. You may need to show him repeatedly what you expect. You may need to physically help him do what you are asking him if he does not understand. You will also need to give him repeated practice and reminders.
- List goals for your child in the areas of training. This may be part of your every day lesson plans for teaching. For example, "Comes when called" might be one objective for the month or until obtained.
- Teach good habits right from the beginning. Once bad habits are established, they are difficult to break. For example, if your child tends to run away from you. Decide as parents what consequences you will adhere to in this situation before it arises so that your child learns to stay near you where he can be safe.
- Remember that your child may be chronologically at the age of 5, but his mental age may only be 3. So when training, you need to focus more on his mental age because this is his level of understanding.
- Beware of humanistic philosophies if you use curriculums that are secular. Pat Oelwein's book Teaching Reading to Children With Down syndrome is excellent, but if you read carefully, you will notice some suggestions that you will not agree with. One example is in the section on handwriting. She says that if you show your child how to hold a pencil and he wants to do it his way, let him. Does this hold true biblically? However, when your child has difficulty and does not cooperate you need to ask yourself a few questions first before you decide what action to take. For example ask yourself:
In other words, is this a problem of what my child needs or what he wants? If your answer is yes to the above questions, your child needs something: physical maturity, further modeling and explanation of a skill, a break, a nap, some food, or help for an illness. These are not wants. These are needs. If you allow your special needs child to insist on "having it his way" in one area when you are trying to teach him, he will seek out other areas in which to have his way.
- Does my child have the physical ability to accomplish the task I have asked him to do?
- Does he understand what I am asking him to do?
- If it is a school activity, have we been working too long and he needs a break?
- Is he tired, hungry, or sick?
- A child's reaction to training corresponds with the parents' reaction to the child's action, whether it be an act of disobedience or an act of childishness. To train efficiently, the parent must be under control in bodily actions and in tone of voice.
Remember that the number one book on child training is God's Word. Biblical principles on child training apply to your special needs child as well. You might begin a Bible study in Deuteronomy chapter 6 and then use a concordance to check other references.
The following additional books can be used along with your biblical study. Many of the books can be found in Christian bookstores, at home school conventions, or you can write to the address given.
Training Requires a Plan of Action
- Lovingly Guiding Their Footsteps
Published by NATHHAN
Porthill, ID 83853
(This 22 page booklet deals specifically with special needs children.)
- To Train Up a Child
- No Greater Joy Volumes 1 & 2
By Michael and Debi Pearl
1000 Pearl Road
Pleasantville, TN 37147
(These book stress the need for consistency in discipline. The books are inexpensive and you can also request a free newsletter.)
- Child Training and the Home School
Parable Publishing House
RD1, Box 1281
Charlotte, Vermont 05445
- Instilling Self-Discipline in Children (booklet)
Plain Path Publishers
PO Box 830
Columbus, NC 28722
- Shepherding a Child's Heart
Wapwallopen, PA 18660
- On Becoming Baby Wise Book 1 & 2
By Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam, M.D.
Questar Publishers, Inc.
Post Office Box 1720
Sister, OR 97759
- Growing Kids God's Way
By Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo
Published by Micah 6:8
Chatsworth, CA 9131
(This manual accompanies a parenting training class.)
- Child Training Tips
Family Ministries Publishing
PO Box 1412
Fair Oaks, CA 95628
- Withhold Not Correction
By Bruce A. Ray
Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing Co.
Phillipsburg, NJ 08865
- Training Your Children to Turn Out Right!
A Biblical Guide for Christian Parents
By David Sorenson
American Association of Christian Schools
PO Box 2189
Independence, MO 64055
- What the Bible Says About...Child Training
By J. Richard Fugate
Aletheia Division of Alpha Omega Publications
Tempe, AZ 85280
Do you see any behaviors in your child that need to be changed? After studying the Bible and reading some good child training books, both parents should sit down and decide if any changes need to occur in the current training system. If there are specific behaviors you want to see changed in your special needs child, get a sheet of paper and write down a list of unbiblical behaviors. Then decide which one to work on first.
Next get another sheet of paper and write at the top of the paper the behavior that needs attention. You might list a verse associated with this behavior. In the first paragraph write down all the details pertaining to this behavior: when and where it tends to occur and who is usually involved and so on. In the next paragraph, think of ways you might see this behavior coming before it gets too far along. What sets it off? Next, write what you, the parent, will do when you recognize this behavior. Finally, write the consequences that you will administer to your child as an outcome of his behavior. Before putting it into action, pray with your child, open your Bible, and explain within his level of understanding that God says what he is doing is wrong. Then show your child by demonstrating what it is he does and what he needs to do instead. Practice the desired behavior before your child actually needs to use it. (This depends on the behavior.)
- If there is a major behavior problem, decide to work on this one first.
- If all the behaviors are on about on the same level, choose the behavior that might be the easiest the change first.
"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him."
Revised: August 22, 2004.