Positive Discipline for Students with Learning Disabilities

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

As a teacher who works with students who have learning disabilities, one of your challenges might be providing discipline that benefits students' development. This lesson discusses the use of positive discipline for students with learning disabilities.

Learning Disabilities and Behavior

As a teacher who works with special education students in an inclusive setting, or one where students with disabilities learn alongside their typically-developing peers, Ms. Bittle works with many students with learning disabilities. Learning disabilities are cognitive challenges that make it hard for individuals to assimilate and process new information.

Though learning disabilities are mostly discussed in relation to reading, writing and math, Ms. Bittle has noticed that they also sometimes seem to impact students' behavior. Children with learning disabilities sometimes have extra trouble attending and staying focused, as well as following multi-step directions. They also might compensate for low self-esteem by engaging in attention-seeking behaviors that can be disruptive.

Ms. Bittle wants to teach her students with learning disabilities how to behave appropriately without making them feel bad about themselves and while maintaining a strong relationship with her students. She decides to research positive discipline for students with learning disabilities.

What is Positive Discipline?

Positive discipline is an approach oriented around teaching students life skills, relationship-management skills, and self-regulation. Positive discipline rests on the assumption that people intrinsically desire positive relationships with others. Ms. Bittle is well-versed in the five criteria usually associated with positive discipline:

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