To put it simply, discipline is hard. It is one of the hardest parts of parenting. But when done consistently and correctly, it can help you to raise strong, well-behaved, emotionally mature children. Still, it’s a tough job. Each stage of childhood means a different type of discipline. How you discipline depends greatly on the age and maturity of your child. If one of your children is developmentally delayed, it will take him longer to reach those different stages and his age will truly be just a number.
Have patience. It will take your child longer to adjust to stages and changes and therefore, it will take you longer as well. Have patience with your child and follow his lead. As he grows and exhibits different behaviors, you will see opportunities for further growth through different methods of discipline. You just have to wait for the signs.
Don’t compare this child to your others. Each child is different and comparing one child’s behavior to another’s will only lead to great frustration for you and for your developmentally delayed child. Don’t tell him that his big brother was able to “tie his shoes by now”. Let your child learn at his own pace and discipline bad behavior at a level he can understand based on maturity, not calendar date.
Reevaluate your standards. We all have dreams for our children, and most of them will not live out the life we envisioned for them no matter what their abilities may or may not be. Let go of the “plans” you had for your child before he was born, and create new ones for the child you have in front of you today. But remember, just because you are changing your standards does not mean that your child is inferior to other children. Your child is still worthy of being treated as if he will succeed, and is to be given the opportunities to grow and learn, just at a different pace and in a different way.
Value your child as an individual and help him to become responsible and independent. Don’t rush in to help him or to fix problems for him. Let him try to work things out on his own. Step in only when it is necessary. Babying a child with a delay isn’t fair to the child. Be structured throughout your day and with what you expect from him. He will surprise you with what he can do more than with what he can’t.