Pretty minor issues re: DSS (6) behaviour, just want some perspective...(14 Posts)
OK, can someone just tell me whether these types of things are behaviour you'd let slide for a 6 year old DSS who is generally well behaved but does seem to be gradually getting less and less so, or whether you'd stay on top of this stuff to avoid it getting even worse later on? Generally DSS and I get on well, we have fun together, he is respectful towards me, we've had no big problems - but there are occasionally issues. They're minor issues, but two of them happened this evening, when I was already feeling down and they made me feel worse. Would really like feedback:
- DSS was snacking on raw veg while he was watched cartoons as we prepared dinner. Anyway, wandering into the living room I saw that he had eaten half the plate and I warned him to leave some for the rest of us (often said this before, and he's always been scrupulously fair and very proud about only taking his fair share). But this time he kept going. So after a couple more minutes I said "just choose one more thing, then that's enough". He took two things. I said, no just one thing. He brightly said "OK!" and put one back. I turned around to go back into the kitchen, and saw him take THREE more things, out of the corner of my eye. I called him on it and he basically mumbled something but didn't do anything, just stayed glued to his cartoon. I asked him why he had done that, and why he had lied to me, and asked him to put two of the things back. He mumbled again and did nothing. DP had gone off to take care of something in another part of the house at the time. I had to get back to the dinner, DSS was engrossed in his cartoon, I just let the whole thing drop but removed the rest of the snacks.
10 minutes later:
- DP still in another part of the house doing something else. Dinner is ready. DP shouts to start without him. I served up our dinner and told DSS to turn off the cartoon to eat his dinner. He said OK, in that "half-listening, mostly-hypnotised-by-the-TV" voice, but did nothing. I told him again. He didn't respond. I told him again, more crossly, at which point he said he was going to wait for his dad before eating. I said it would get cold, and to turn off the cartoon and eat his dinner. He repeated that he wanted to wait for his dad. I left it, and ate without him. Then 10m later when his dad arrived, he turned off the cartoon at his request and looked at his dinner plate. He barely ate anything because "it was cold" and "he wasn't hungry anyway" (probably because he had eaten a ton of raw veg just before). No comments from DP on this, he let it go.
...So. I know it's minor stuff. But it bothers me, because it does seem that DSS is becoming more generally naughty recently, and I know his mother has been having problems with him too. But none of it is big stuff...and if you take serious action, he'll generally fall into line. Problem is, never having to do it before, I don't feel comfortable escalating my reprimands to the next level required to get him to respond. I just don't feel like I have the...right. Or the knowledge/experience to see whether these types of things are just behaviour that is best let slide at age 6 or best confronted. DP isn't a Disney dad exactly - he does tell his DSS off when needed - but it's more ad-hoc instead of on a consistent basis. He can get away with it more too, because DSS is generally more well behaved for him than for anyone else (including his mother). Thus far, DP and I haven't needed to talk in too much detail about my role in disciplining DSS, because it hasn't really been an issue. However, I can see that it's starting to be one, and we need to talk about it. But before I do that, just wanted to try to get some perspective on this type of stuff. Maybe I'm just overreacting to the whole thing because I'm already in a bit of a bad mood, and this is just stuff that you would generally let drop with a 6 year old? Please tell me if so!
Damn, I meant to post this in step-parenting. Please ignore, going to get it moved.
Will ignore except to say excellent work between you all to get him sitting eating platefuls of raw veggies. Well done!
I think it's fairly standard behaviour actually. I do think he is testing the boundaries though, he is seeing if you will enforce them or not - he is playing with you although I am certain it's not done on "purpose".
I think either you or DP should have enforced the issue by asking him three times to do something and if not, then the TV goes off. Warn him on the second ask.
erm - I'm genuinely an advocate of SPs in general BUT:
- a 6yo eating raw veggies before dinner? Why are they available if he's not allowed to eat them?
- 6 is really not very old. Eating raw veggies and wanting to watch a cartoon rather than eat dinner is not exactly bad behaviour
theredhen - thanks, and incidentally when I talke to my DP about this earlier this evening, he had a pretty similar opinion to you. Standard behaviour, not a big deal, testing boundaires, but he should be expected to at the least, respond when we're asking him to do something, not just ignore it. So after following through by turning the TV off or whatever is a good way to go. I think often when he "disobeys" in this way it's because he's distracted by something else, so removing the distraction, albeit temporarily, is the quickest and easiest way.
MJ - as I said in my post I have no experience of 6 year olds. I am not a parent, and have little experience of children outside my fairly recent stepson. Which is why I posted on this board, because I want to be a good stepmother and think it's a good thing help and advice on this stuff. I don't see how you can say that I power-tripped, seeing as in both cases above I clearly said I let it go after asking him a couples of times because I wasn't sure about it, rather than insisting that he do as I say.
But thanks anyway for the perspective. I appreciate your point about him not seeing why he should eat if his dad wasn't, and I think it's a good one. The thing is, I knew his dad would eat it anyway even if it got cold, whereas DSS would be more fussy. And sure enough, DSS refused to eat because it had got cold.
I do appreciate the irony that he was eating vegetables, which is obviiously a good thing! It was just strange in this situation, because in the country where we are (not the UK) it's normal to put out communal snacks before the meal with the understanding that they are shared by all. And until now DSS was always scrupulously fair about only taking his fair share, and would point out to us exactly how many pieces of everything he'd left for me and his dad. And suddenly that seems to have changed...
- a good thing to get help and advice on this stuff.
I once read that a stepparent has much higher expectations of a child's behaviour than the biological parent - definitely true in my case and probably in yours.
He probably is testing the boundaries at 6 - but regardless of that you need to create good conditions for good behaviour. I wouldn't expect a 6-year-old to be brilliant at restraining himself from snacks if hungry (my dss would be actually but neither of my dds would). And I wouldn't expect a dss to come to the table without his dad either. So in these cases, I would have put out the food when you were all ready to eat it - and I would have got dh to come to the table with his son. If I really wanted dss to come to the table though, I would just turn off the telly and say ' Come on' in a reasonable tone.
I think often when he "disobeys" in this way it's because he's distracted by something else, so removing the distraction, albeit temporarily, is the quickest and easiest way.
Yes, just do that, you are the adult. He's 6yo, ergo poorly self-disciplined, easily distracted, cannot multi-task, cannot empathise easily
just like 35 yo men, really.
I would think any step parent would understand why you were annoyed at this child saying he wasn't eating till his dad came after you had spent a long time cooking it. He was showing you that he will only do something if his dad asks him, and in a way is saying "you aren't my mother - I don't have to do what you say" - even at 6 this is pretty self evident. Please move your post to step-parents. We aren't always rational and we know that, we just want others in the same boat to sympathise.
I am a stepmum (DSS is 8).
In my view you haven't done anything awful but your DSS has behaved pretty normally for a 6 yo. Btw they are often told to eat everything on their plate so don't always understand expectations when it comes to platters/buffets/sharer plates.
I do empathise. At first I thought my DSS was a bit naughty & annoying from time to time. Now inhale my own children too & realise children in general are a bit naughty & annoying from time to time
That should say I have my own children'l not inhale my own children!! Stupid iPhone
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