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Behavioural problems with stepson & punishment

(22 Posts)
Curtains81 Wed 12-Nov-14 11:57:33

Hi everyone, I'm new here. I'd just like some advice from any other step parents out there!

I've been with my wife for 5 years (married for 3). My Stepson was 3 when I first met him, and at the time his Father was useless/absent. I formed a really good bond with him and became sort of the father figure. 2 years ago I had a son and all is well between them.

However, the last 4 or 5 months (stepson is now 8) he has been getting stroppy whenever he's told to go to bed. He'll initially just say no, then complains about not being tired, and when I have explained that it's the same time every night, no exceptions, he gets worse. It reached a new peak last night when he lost his temper and started to throw things about.

Now, I know this is normal behaviour for lots of kids, but my problem is how he's punished (or not). My wife tells him off and explains why it's not acceptable, but the next morning he's on his iPad and I suspect has no remorse or remembrance of his behaviour.

My way would be to ban him from Ipad (for example) for a day or two - does anyone think this is excessive? The further complication is that if I discuss it with my wife, she is often defensive/protective and thinks that punishments don't work.

Thanks all

wheresthelight Wed 12-Nov-14 12:44:07

8 is plenty old enough to understand that his actions have consequences. my dsd has just turned 9 and we have the same issue that mum refuses to discipline and give consequences so it makes it very hard when they are with me and their dad.

I would sit down and discuss it with your wife properly and use words like discipline and consequences of actions rather than punishment as they evoke different emotions in people. use the fact that you don't want a two tier system for discipline for ds and dss and as you will expect ds to receive consequences then dss needs to as well. this was very much how I approached things with my dp and it had a much better negotiation stance than just getting pissed off.

hope you get something sortes

wheresthelight Wed 12-Nov-14 12:44:18

sorted even

Curtains81 Wed 12-Nov-14 12:54:06

thanks for that, it makes sense.

wheresthelight Wed 12-Nov-14 13:01:25

hope it helps!

find a time when he isn't being a pain in the arse too because she will be far more defensive if it's at a time he is in trouble!!

also suggest a reward chart - so he gets a star/smiley face for going to bed properly and if he manages all week then he can pick the Friday night takeaway or have a treat at the weekens - cinema trip/adventure playground/swimming. or look at a bigger treat like go ape or something if he manages a whole month.

you will find after a couple of weeks the issues should vanish

HesNotAMessiah Wed 12-Nov-14 13:48:25

8yr old with an ipad?

Ok, I know I'm a bit behind the times here and younger kids are piled up with technology but I'm wondering whether he has a lot of screen time?

It's not unknown for kids who've been sat in front of a screen for a long time to be a bit 'wired' and looking for their next buzz rather than something soothing.

Does he get 'quiet' time before bed? Time with you and mum? Board games etc.

chocoraisin Wed 12-Nov-14 20:06:20

What time is his bedtime? Could you give him 30mins extra time, but he can only spend it in his room doing something quiet like reading or playing lego, then lights out at a new later time? Bedtimes do tend to need to move occasionally as kids grow up/need less sleep. But I'd second the limits on screen time anyway, and especially just before bed.

Curtains81 Fri 14-Nov-14 14:02:56

Thanks for all the replies. We had a good chat about it last night and it seems to have worked (for now). I got my wife to tell him that I do not make the rules but am sometimes just the messenger, and that that sort of behaviour is not acceptable.

In response to the above questions: Bedtime is 7.30, and he is allowed to read for half an hour in bed, though this is difficult due to my 2 year-old being in the lower bunk (so can't have the light on). He has a torch though....

We have 4 iPads in the house, we would not have any if not for my very generous step-mum-in-law who's in America. As for screen time; this is perhaps an "old versus new" generational mentality. No-one seems to bat an eyelid if a child reads a book for 3 hours straight, but when it's a tech' device there seems to be a hoo-har. We are happy to let him do what makes him happy (within reason), and if he chooses to watch Minecraft videos then that's cool with us.

But what has been said is interesting - perhaps there needs to be some chill out time before bed. Worth a trial run I think.

wheresthelight Fri 14-Nov-14 14:25:01

glad you had a chat and hope it works out better for you!

Maroonie Fri 14-Nov-14 14:58:11

Glad you've made progress just wanted to add- I would really consider limiting screen time before bed, definitely makes a difference for us. The problem is the light apparently (which is why a book doesn't have the same effect) the 'blue light' acts as a stimulant an makes it harder to sleep. it's not just for kids but affects adults too, there's lots of research into smartphones and how even checking the time on your mobile when in bed can have an impact on getting back to sleep!

Curtains81 Sat 15-Nov-14 22:29:49

The problem isnt that he cant get to sleep, I think its more deep rooted. He seems to feel hard done by, almost punished, that he has to end his free time and go to bed. He then gets angry and rude. Its happened before when he's just sitting on the sofa, or if we've been out to dinner and got back late, then told him its bed time. I don't think the iPad is the issue. The same would happen if he was playing a board game or reading. Like I said, seems to have improved for the minute, some good old fashioned chat helps a lot!

springalong Mon 17-Nov-14 01:04:48

I communicate in advance and use count down techniques. So your example of being out late. I would say to my DS days in advance, we are going to be late that night, so when we get in, it will be straight upstairs and into PJs whilst I get your milk and come up for final bedtime story. I then repeat the morning of the actual day, then on that night I act as if that is what is happening. I call it the no surprise rule.

Count down is similar ie no surprises. So sitting on the sofa - 30 mins before bedtime I would let DS know 30 mins to go. I then countdown at 10 mins, 2 mins and go! It doesn't stop the moaning and doesn't always work, but it does most of the time!

AlfAlf Mon 17-Nov-14 01:17:24

I think his bedtime is a bit early for an 8 year old. My youngest is almost 8 and starts getting ready for bed at about 8, but is sometimes not asleep until after 9.

rootypig Mon 17-Nov-14 01:32:41

Reading in bed with a torch is not a good idea. It's cramped, probably inadequate light, and highlights a hierarchy of need (2yo trumps 8yo). Turn the TV and iPads off, and have him read for half an hour on the sofa once in pyjamas and teeth cleaned. He might then be more ready to go up when asked at 8.

And three hours of screen time is radically different from time spent reading books.

HesNotAMessiah Mon 17-Nov-14 14:36:11

Curtains, I'll pick up on the 'generational' thing re the screen time issue.

There is a fair amount of research available which you might want to consider. Firstly in the case of stimulation as has been mentioned, it's not just anecdotal that kids who have just switched off the tv/console/whatever are a bit 'wired' and struggle to chill.

Secondly, there are the longer term developmental affects of too much video - brain development has been shown to be altered, with the creative and imaginative parts of the brain less developed. A need for constant attention, and ever increasing 'highs' of visual stimulation and an inability to socialise have been recorded.

That aside, he's only 8 can you not read to him yourselves? And if reading is difficult how about a listening book? Or just reading downstairs.

Is it maybe that although you think you're letting him please himself by doing whatever he wants, perhaps how he sees it is you showing no interest and just dumping him ? Maybe that's why the chat helped, because you actually interacted with him?

NickiFury Mon 17-Nov-14 14:43:23

7.30 is far too early for an 8 year old to be going to bed and it sounds like he's tried to communicate that to you repeatedly. Try listening to him instead of dreaming up punishments.

robotroy Mon 17-Nov-14 15:35:46

Blimey Nicki say what you think don't honey coat it! That reads REALLY angrily!

At the core of your blunty worded post I think you have a point that's definitely worth looking into, I know DSD has historically only messed about at bedtime at times in her life she's actually been stressed about things. In the day she is so busy but at night she starts worries and so it can be that bedtime messing about actually indicates a need to talk about things.

That said most kids will mess about at bedtime, just depends how serious it is really. The settling advice is really great, I think there's positive ways to overcome negative issues in this type of advice.

On the bedtime, I think sometimes you do get bit our of synch with the fact your kids have got bigger, so maybe it does need a review. I think the fact that there is another sibling in the room mean extra time reading quietly cuddled up next to you on the sofa or talking about his life and feelings might be really valuable to you all.

BarbarianMum Mon 17-Nov-14 17:40:59

Nicki what crap. My nearly 9 year old goes to bed at 7.30pm most nights with half and hours reading time same as the OP's ss. The reason for this is that he's knackered. Several of his friends have similar routines - we are all up at 6am.

trialsandtribs Mon 17-Nov-14 19:11:53

Loads of research showing kids who get more sleep are more alert at school, do better educationally, less likely to be obese. Up to the parents what time their kids go but I think 7:30 for an 8 year old is perfectly reasonable.

NickiFury Mon 17-Nov-14 22:13:39

It may be "crap" for YOUR situation barbarian but 7.30 would be far too early for my dd and in fact I don't know any child of that age that goes to bed that early. So while you may not agree with me, it does not follow that my opinion has no validity.

I'm just slightly uncomfortable with the focus on "punishment" when this child has repeatedly tried to express that he's not tired and is not being listened to or met half way, in the end he shows his frustration and it's all about his issues and how he should be punished.

"No exceptions". Why not? Not even at weekends with no school etc? I just think that a little flexibility goes a very long way sometimes.

NickiFury Mon 17-Nov-14 22:17:26

Thats a great post robotroy. Especially agree about losing sight of the fact that kids are getting older and adjustments should be made for that. I agree that it's very easy to get locked into the concrete bedtime routine. I have done it myself and it's something that I adjusted quite recently for dd as she was in tears most nights at the thought of lying in bed for two hours unable to sleep. I just thought why am I putting us both through this when she could just stay up an extra hour. This hour is spent pottering around in her room, no screens though.

AlfAlf Tue 18-Nov-14 01:02:27

My dc get up at 7:30am or later, if they had to get up at 6am I suppose an earlier bedtime would be necessary. I hardly think 6am is the norm though, but am open to correction.
I know get the impression some parents send their dc to bed early because they want to maximise their child-free time. I can sort of relate to that (especially on a bad day!), but if the price for it is an unhappy child who's acting out because they're just not ready for bed yet, then surely it's lose-lose?

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