Hi, I am completley at a loss as to how to disciplin my 4 (nearly 5) year old stepson. I am his primary carer as his dad is at work and he doesn't live with his mum, he lives with us, so I need to be able to get him to listen to me when needed.
I have tried every trick in the book (including smacking-which I am not proud of) but I am ignored completley. If he is naughty, and he can do some really naughty stuff (for example hitting, spitting etc) I try to talk to him about why he shouldn;t do those things, I have put him on 'time out', I have taken favourite toys away, I have banned a trip out which he would enjoy, I have shouted, I have taken food away, not given him pudding unless he eats all his tea (he is not allowed sweets anyway, so I can't ban those) and much more, but he just does not care.
He is not fased by any of it. He will smirk when I tell him off face to face, he will avoid listening to me by doing anything else that will grab his attention (even if I am holding him he will spin his head up and and down just to ignore me).
Once in his bedroom he will maybe cry for a moment then he is back doing something else naughty.
It is starting to transfer itself to school now, he has only been going 3 weeks and I have been called up their every single day so far and he is not even full time yet! He is going to get labeled a bully soon and I really do not want that to happen, but I don't know what to do with a child that does not care what you do to disciplin him.
Part of the problem is the fact that he visits his mum twice a week and he is allowed to do whatever he wants at her house, he can fight with his brother, eat as much chocolate and sweets as he wants (she has never once given him a piece of fruit or a vegetable), watch 18 certificate films if he wants, spend all day on the playstation if he wants, so any good work we do with him for the rest of the week goes out of the window once he has visited his mum. We have to start again every week and becuase he is getting older it is getting harder. Yesterday I was called to the school becuase he spent the entire day hitting and punching the other children, this is becuase he is allowed to 'play fight' with his brother and watch violent films at his mum's.
We cannot cut her contact as it was agreed by the courts and we would be breaking the agreement which potentially means she could take us to court and get more visting time, plus we have no money left from fighting the case for the past 2 years that we couldn't afford to defend ourselves or take her to court to challenge the contact agreement.
There is no-one professional invloved anymore so we don't realy have anyone to turn to for advice. I just am stuck. Does anyone have any advice?
Well it sounds like you have your hands full, I would punish him as in grounding him for four days up to a week and take away his favorite thing when he is ground during that time, the only way he gets his favorite things back is threw good behavior, so who knows, you may have to keep them for a few weeks at the rate he is going.when he has a good day, I would praise him and maybe take him out for an icecream or do something specail with him, that is when he gets treats, good behavior!!! So he has to earn his treats or maybe if he is really good all week, you can take him to the store and he gets to buy a little something, reward him on good behavior. Sometimes we get so frustrated all we do is yell, we don't realize it but we do, now this child has a tendency to tune it out becaue that is all he hears, if he is naughty, he is always getting attention on himself. How dose he act when his father is home??
I feel realy sorry for you, it must be very hard to cope with. Perhaps you can work with the school to involve some professional help.
I guess the little boy is feeling confused and angry if he is testing you so much and hitting out at other children.
A therapist could give him support and find out what i going on with him.
I think punishing him for everything could be counterproductive at this stage, when so much of his behaviour is negative. It may be better to work on how he can express his feelings in a more productive way to begin with and concentrating on one aspect of his behaviour that you want to correct- the violence for instance. Time out is a good idea, starting with one minute for every year of his age. It has to be consistant and will probably be hard work for you initially. I would grit your teeth and try and ignore as much of his negative behaviour as you can, unless it is something dangerous. Be sure to reward the behaviour you are encouraging, even if you have to look hard to find something good. It is always better to focus on the positive.
Tough on you I know but you cannot do everything at once.
As his mum doesn't have custody of him i guess there may be issues that he feels unloved by her, especially as she seems to be overcompensating when he is with her.
It sounds like you could do with some support for yourself if you have been fighting the case for the past two years. You have obviously all been through a lot. Why not try and find a support group for step- parents or similar to help you cope with this situation.
Also please try and find some quality time for looking after and nurturing yourself, you are doing a great job.