August 25, 2011

Disciplining a Child For Communicating

Let's say you have a young student, who has a pretty significant hearing loss in addition to other special needs. She is just learning to talk and use language, which she unfortunately was deprived of for the first six years of her life.

When she needs to go to the bathroom, instead of using the appropriate terms for bathroom she may say, "Piss." or "Poop."

What do you do?

Well, I can tell you from my training and experience, you should not discipline the child or tell her not to use those terms. Instead you can say or sign, "Oh, you need to use the restroom? Okay. Let's go to the restroom." And you keep doing this over and over again until she starts to model your language. Ideally, that is how it should be done.

In my opinion, it is not a good idea to keep a child who is language and/or speech delayed from communicating. You have to try to put yourself in the child's position. This girl, who did not have any type of language for a huge portion of her young life, may not understand why saying "piss" or "poop" is not appropriate to use while in school. It would probably change things if you learned that these were the only words she used in the first six years of her life to let others know that she needs to use the bathroom. When a child is just learning to speak, sign, or use language, the last thing we need to do is punish him or her for trying to communicate.

Sometimes it is worthwhile to think before you are quick to discipline or dismiss a child for saying inappropriate things. Depending on how well they can comprehend language, sometimes it just takes a simple explanation as to why what they are doing is inappropriate.

But, if the student or child knows and fully understands why what they are doing is wrong or hurtful, then by all means discipline them!



  1. I know piss is rude, but my hearing son still tell me he gotta go poop (or pee) . I had no idea it is consider ride. One woman corrected me and told me I should use the word nursing, not breastfeeding (or breastfed) . Maybe I'm odd one but I really don't see anything wrong with those words and why it is a taboo.

  2. I don't think it is rude, it is just not something you would typically say at school once you are no longer in kindergarten. Some teachers would think it is rude, I suppose. But whether someone thinks it is rude or not, the child should not be disciplined for it. There are better ways of handling situations like this.

  3. In Deaf culture, it is appropriate to be more blunt about things that may be taboo in hearing culture. It's very common and appropriate for a Deaf person to sign "me pee" instead of "restroom", and even voice their equivelant. I think it requires someone knowledgeable in ASL and Deaf culture to really determine what should and shouldn't be corrected.

  4. This justification of "bluntness" as part of deaf culture is lame. Those that are blunt, were not taught what is appropriate, that's my perspective.


  5. Anonymous @10:42 pm, yes in Deaf Culture bluntness is the norm. However, in this incident, it is not because of Deaf Culture. The child is just learning language, and the words she used made perfect sense to her at the time, but were considered inappropriate in her class. She is working on trying to communicate effectively, and saying or signing "I need to go to the bathroom." or "Bathroom I go." or even "Bathroom." would be more effective.

  6. By the way, teachers do the same thing with hearing students. They are learning what is or isn't appropriate to say in school, as well.

  7. "This justification of "bluntness" as part of deaf culture is lame. Those that are blunt, were not taught what is appropriate, that's my perspective." ~ Candy

    I agree. When I get together with my family, we will usually have loud and interesting conversations about controversial topics. But, I know better than to be loud and bring up controversial topics with people I don't know and work with.

    There is the way I act at home and the way I act at school and work. Going to school taught me this.

  8. e), my son is 10 years old (and no he does not have learning disability or anything like that.) It never bother me when he say he gotta go pee or he need to poop. He probably does use the word bathroom/restroom at school. I dont bother correcting him.

  9. Good for you e)! I'm glad you regained control of your post!

  10. Of course, growing up deaf, you are constantly being corrected especially speech or they put up bluntness from both hearing and deaf people growing up?Like the time I read an old (probably 1960's )book on deafness in my mom's bookshelf and it specifically say deaf are usually low intelligent or something harsh like that. And friends and family bluntly let you know you talk funny and such. Or when deaf people cry, hearing people ignore them like they have no empathy. How do we know bluntness is truly from being deaf? Maybe its learned from over the years?

  11. Frankness is indeed a characteristic of Deaf culture, but is not universal. Deaf adults may say among friends, "Me pee" but say "Excuse, 5 min me back" to others less well known.

    For a child this age, it is not reflective of Deaf culture but of family culture.

    Modeling for different situations and explaining is appropriate for children in school situations. That's what formal education is for.


Keep it civil.