Husband of disabled parent seeks help with discipline : LUSENET : Disabled Parents Network : One Thread

My son (eight years old) has learned that he doesn't have to obey my physically disabled wife because he's more powerful, physically, than she is. When she tells him to do things, like doing his homework, he hits her and throws things at her. I can discipline him when I get home from work, but by then the triggering event has passed and the discipline is not very effective.

Any suggestions?

-- Anonymous, September 03, 2003


I think this is a problem which many parents go through, not just disabled parents!

My daughter who is nearly 7 years went through a phase of hitting me in the face, as she could reach (I am a wheelchair user) and I couldn't stop her (I have shortened arms as a consequence of Thalidomide).

I dealt with it by removing some of the quality time I spent with her - her regular bedtime story slot. She was heartbroken and sobbed herself to sleep when I said "no, I wasn't going to tell her a story tonight because she'd hit me in the face earlier".

Withdrawing treats worked well, like she couldn't use the computer for a day or a week (depending on what she'd done), or such like. I didn't threaten it, I just reminded her later on when she asked if she could play a game on the computer that she couldn't because of her earlier outburst, tantrum or whatever, that wasn't acceptable behaviour.

That would work well as if she went to hit me, I would say "remember what the punishment for this is - you ca hit me if you want to, but the punishment will be the same as it was before!" Just find something that your son really enjoys.

Luckily it was a short-lived phase, although at the time I was really worried that this was going to be forever, and that I was going to end up a battered Mum! She did come out of it pretty quickly.

I think you are right to try and address this behaviour before it escalates, and I think the punishment does need to come from your wife at the time, rather than yourself.

Alison Lapper, a disabled woman featured on the BBC programme "Child of Our Time" had problems with agression from her son, (read more on She says that she found the Anna Freud Centre in London helpful. Looking at their website they might be able to offer assistance if you are unable to resolve the situation yourself:

I am sure that some simple changes to the way your wife reacts to his behaviour are all that are required.... Good Luck, and let us know if you manage to resolve the situation and how!


-- Anonymous, September 05, 2003

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