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How do we deal with this..?

(22 Posts)
TQBD Mon 09-Feb-15 11:22:13

Namechanger; but long time user.. poo troll, penis beaker etc.

We are rapidly reaching our wits end with 10yo DSD. It might get long so grab yourself a cuppa!

Long history of reluctance to co parent from DSD Mum; lots of conflict - but things have become civil and more co parenting has happened over the last 18 months. All very positive.

DSD was bought a mobile phone for xmas by mum; and rules were enforced. Rules she has consistently flouted. Phone has now been removed as punishment; and mum is currently adamant phone won't be returned. We purchased her an ipod - and set similar rules, which are flouted less.

DSD behaviour is increasingly getting worse; (Some of this is new, most of it has been bubbling away on and off for a while)

Bullying of kids at school via Skype/Facetime/Messenger apps - results in devices being removed, lots of tears etc. Constantly low level bullies younger brother.

Blatant disregard for 'rules' despite punishments being dished out - seems to do it again 4 days later

Manipulation of things that have been said to cause trouble between houses - has been ongoing, but seemed to have stopped after a massive blow up 18m ago - it appears from speaking to Mum that its still been going on but hasn't been mentioned as tactic was to ignore

Lies. She will lie till she is blue in the face or confronted with evidence to prove her lies then admits, cries, apologies etc.

Her attitude and way of speaking to her mother is appalling; total lack of respect, but is a different child at her Dads house.

Over the last 3 months, we've sat her down, explained the expectation and agreed on her behaviour. We've punished until we are blue in the face and things do change for a while.

It feels like she seems to have the idea she has two lives, with two sets of behaviours.. and there is no cross over. To some extent, her parents have facilitated this, but she is rapidly coming to see this isn't the case and behaviour reports will 'follow' her between houses.

My DP raised a very valid point when discussing this - he feels the only quality time he has with her is EOW - and he spends it removing things or punishing her for behaviour that's either happened at either house. Having her more isnt an option as Mum isn't keen.
He isnt a Disney dad; just wants the positive side of parenting as well as this side.

The lies, manipulation and bullying are big issues for us; the attitude we don't see much so can't really address other than to remind her its not acceptable and punish if it happens at our house.

How can we get out of this cycle of constantly punishing and being the 'bad cop'...!
Anyone else have similar issues? Is there something else we could be doing to 'parent' her?

In all honesty, people say what a polite, well mannered and lovely little girl she is. You wouldn't believe it was the same child from the reports from Mums house. We appear to get the half way child between Mum's house behviour, and public behaviour.

It is really sad.

Storm15 Mon 09-Feb-15 11:40:39

No advice but you could be writing about my DSD, so watching with interest. Every word of your last paragraph could have been mine. We are also regularly having to confiscate electronics because of blatant disregard for the rules and obscene dishonesty surrounding the behaviour.

It might be worth noting, my DH has more contact than your DP. Not sure it's made the blindest bit of difference. Increasingly I'm starting to feel that DSD flitting between two homes with very different sets of rules and witnessing the conflict between her two parents (like your DP, DH and his ex have only managed to make strides in co-parently recently, before that came several years of hell) has done real damage in that she seems to have limited respect for either her mother or her father. I think the only reason her behaviour is better with us is because I'm here, and she's starting to understand that I don't have to put up with it. Possibly also because DH is more consistent than Mum (because his home-life is consistent whereas Mum's entire life is quite unstable, it's much easier for him to make rules and stick to them).

My DSD is now opting to board at school whenever she can. It would seem she prefers that to being with either parent. She is by all accounts very well-behaved at school and doing well academically.

Yes....it is really sad.

steppeinginto2015 Mon 09-Feb-15 11:53:00

Ok, not a stepmum, but lots of sympathy as my own kids go through phases of this too.

my only suggestion is that you must have positive time. So plan fun things, nice times, good things in. If the phone is gone, then it should be a short and swift conversation:
you did xx, the consequence is yy.
Then move on. Ring fence some of the fun stuff so it is never used as punishment.

Things which worked with ds aged 10
-special Friday night time, him and me snuggled on sofa, watching Dr Who
-bedtime later with bedtime reading part of it. Sometimes I would read aloud to him. (he has 2 younger sisters and this was all about him being older)
-recognising his age and 'responsibility' and letting him do things like, go to the shop for me, and have the change to spend on something.
-getting him to tell us what he thought was an appropriate consequence over some things.

not rocket science, but they did help, but we are also still struggling - teens are hitting.

TQBD Mon 09-Feb-15 12:08:28

Thank you - its nice and quite comforting to know I'm not alone in this. I feel awkward as she isn't mine, but I don't want her to grow up into a hideous teen/adult any more than her parents do - and feel its important we address it 'together' where we can.

Her mum has removed her phone. Permanently at the moment.

We've decided we will sit her down and have the conversation; she will loose one privilege for her lies and attempts to create situations between grown ups/her parents.

For the activity with facetime/skype etc, she will have her ipod removed.

She will be able to earn the removed privilege back with a drastic improvement to her behaviour; but it will need to be consistent and seen in both houses.

TQBD Mon 09-Feb-15 12:39:51

It'd be great if people had other strategies to add- she's the eldest - which is always hard so please don't take my previous message as closing down the thread.

chocoraisin Mon 09-Feb-15 12:51:15

I agree with ringfencing positive time with her too. If she's acting out and getting punished between both houses, she may be feeling like there's no point behaving better for either household. Can your DH sit down and ask her what she wants and needs from her mum and him, as well as telling her what boundaries they want and need her to respect? The answer may be the key to helping her settle down.

TQBD Mon 09-Feb-15 13:59:38

Great - we planned some fun things over the weekend so will continue with those alongside her 'punishments'. Its difficult as it feels like sometimes we are rewarding her by still allowing her to do nice things, but appreciate that if we are clear on the punishment there should be no confusion.

We've tried the what is it thats wrong/why do you behave like this at home and not here/what do you want type conversations; and we get "I cant help it, it just happens" or a blank look and a shrug.

Quitelikely Mon 09-Feb-15 14:10:13

I really don't think you should be punishing her for things she does whilst at her mothers house! Let her mother deal with that.

Different houses have different rules and that is just a fact. If you are all decent parents the boundaries will be healthy at both houses.

Pick your battle carefully with her. This is the best piece of advice I have had regarding bad behaviour. Let the small stuff go.

She could end up being labelled as the naughty child and it could become 'the self fulfilling prophecy'.

I do agree with removal of things as punishment but the permanent removal of the phone is sort of pointless. You need it to have as a hold over her. So if it was removed for a month, once she gets it back she is likely to think twice about repeating the behaviour that caused its removal in the first place.

TQBD Mon 09-Feb-15 14:51:06

I don't want to go into too much detail as wouldn't want to out myself; but this is a prime example of her flouting rules - she was participating in bulling with a group of girls via a messenger app. her phone and ipod were removed at both houses for the behaviour as frankly; whats the point removing access at only one of the two houses. The behvious is unacceptable regardless of where she does it. She was given access to the devices back after xx days; on the understanding she didn't use the apps (they were removed) but that she didn't facetime (can't be removed as its part of the OS) - two days later, logs reveal she's been on FaceTime. Que a whole heap of lies about how it wasn't her typing etc.

Another example; She was spoken to about her manipulation of things her patents say; classic "my mum says XXX" "my dad says ZZZ" depending which house she was at, she was also told that due to her having a privilege on a Saturday that her sibling does not; that Sunday's would be used to do something fun that he chose as this was the fairest way as his activity had ceased to run. She went home and informed mum that her dad had said that her sibling was going to do XXX on Sundays and she wasn't allowed to go and it was so unfair. Classic behaviour from her.

In a situation that's been as argumentative as the relationship between her parents has been previously; and her track record, she is WELL aware of the backlash this could (and usually does) cause. Her parents think this behaviour should be punished, and I agree, as does her step dad.

TQBD Mon 09-Feb-15 14:52:19

Obviously, minor misdemeanors are dealt with at the respective homes; its the major issues like bullying, lying, manipulating things that are said etc that are coparented.

steppeinginto2015 Mon 09-Feb-15 15:04:21

the best advice I can give you, is to be very clear to punish the crime, and no more.

The easiest thing to slip into is that child has been naughty, so punishment is removal of phone, and because they have been naughty, they also get no treat on saturday, and because you are so sad about their appalling behaviour, we were going to go ice skating but we aren't now - and so on.

This means they have been punished 3/4/5 times for the same crime. It doesn't do your relationship any good and it feeds the attention seeking behaviour. Because in the end, that is what she is doing, getting your attention.

So, natural consequences - miss-use the phone? Phone is gone. Simple rules - lie to mum/dad about the other? Consequence is xx. Keep it calm simple and firm. So she has lost xx because she lied. That situation has now been dealt with - move on.

Then give her loads of positive attention doing stuff you like together.

wrt the phone, I think you need to accept that some kids cannot effectively self regulate. If you don't want her to do it, it has to be removed from phone, or else get a different phone that she can't do it on.

And the it's not fair sibling gets to do x comment is pretty normal, she really can't be expected to think through all the adult spin offs from this sort of comment. (or she does it because it gets a reaction, and guess what, if you react, it worked!)

(now I will just wander off and attempt to take my own advice.)

Quesera21 Mon 09-Feb-15 17:07:24

Ask her what she wants to do with her time with Dad and see what she comes up with

violetbean Mon 09-Feb-15 17:29:46

This might be going totally off down the wrong path but has she had any counselling since her parents split? It sounds like she's really angry. I have issues with my parents (particularly my mum) and

violetbean Mon 09-Feb-15 17:32:06

Oops pressed post too soon!
... the result is that I'm sometimes so angry when I'm with them that I lash out, even though I'm a pretty reasonable person with other people. Punishing wouldn't help, talking to someone confidentially who is not part of the situation might do. Helped me anyway. Good luck.

Storm15 Mon 09-Feb-15 19:13:42

Violetbean - can I ask - what age do you think you would have been open to counselling had it made available to you?

TQBD Mon 09-Feb-15 19:17:19

Thank you for the replies.

Stepping into - your right, and that is a trap I more than her dad fall into. I do recognise how counter productive it is. I think re the sibling comment; she knew exactly what she was aiming for which was mum to press her for info and then to call Dad and cause a huge scene. She knows this is exactly what follows comments like that; in fact at the time she said it, her stepdad pointed out she was trying to create trouble. It's her 'revenge' if you like for the injustice of being told off.

I agree, she does seem angry from my posts. I think she's more confused rather than angry; her parents haven't been together for a long time; since she was very small so she barely remembers them being together. What she does remember is mum telling her not pleasant things about her dad and generally filling a little girls head with lots of grown up and unkind things
Thankfully; we seem to be past the bitterness now but I'm sure it's had an effect.

I doubt her mum would agree to counselling, we weren't 'allowed' cafcass involvement at the time of arranging access.

violetbean Mon 09-Feb-15 21:32:45

Storm, it's funny but I never realised something was really wrong until my mid-twenties when my best friend died suddenly and all the anger kind of burst out. I wasn't ready for counselling for about a year or two after the death but it's helped since. Never been involved with youth counselling so not sure how effective it is, but recently did a course of mindfulness which I found really helpful, just a book and cd. I know it's not easy though, especially if her mum isn't on the same page.

steppeinginto2015 Mon 09-Feb-15 21:50:55

I guess with the sibling thing, what I mean is, she does it because it causes a row and she gets to be 'in control' because she has caused a row.

She knows that is what she is doing, but she doesn't really understand the complex adult emotions involved. It is like a kid throwing a firework, not realising that someone could loose and eye/die.

It is causing a lot of upset between adults, but it needs dealing with at a 10 year old level. If that makes sense?

BTW, I think you are being hard on yourself, it is hard enough with one set of parents all on the same page, it must be very difficult trying to do this in your situation. In the end all your consistency and love will pay off.

olgaga Mon 09-Feb-15 22:43:47

I'm not a stepmum, but I certainly shudder when I recall my DDs confusion and anxiety from around 10-13.

Age 10 is a particularly difficult time, with all the pre-pubescent hormonal activity both for the child and others in their friendship group Not to mention SATs, the prospect of secondary school, the added pressure of social media - SCs aren't immune from these difficulties, and for them they come on top of any issues associated with being a child of separated parents (which is where I can draw on my experience).

IME, punishment simply added to the trauma and anxiety. The only thing that worked for us was encouraging good behaviour (more carrot than stick), keeping communications going, always sympathising but being quietly assertive, and having lots one to one time.

Easier said than done, I know, but my DD is about to turn 14 and has come through the worst.

If you haven't already read the book "How to Talk So Kids Will Listen..." or seen the website of Dr Laura Markham, I strongly recommend both.

Good luck!

RandomMess Mon 09-Feb-15 22:53:25

I too think more carrots, and more "discussions" about the disappointment of her making poor choices & being unkind rather than long drawn out punishments.

"How to talk " is really great, also another book by the same authors to read as well "Siblings without rivalry".

Ask her what would make her happier, have a family meeting to agree household rules, and consequences for breaking them. You don't have to agree with everything they come up but can be interesting/helpful to find out what they think etc.

TQBD Tue 10-Feb-15 07:02:27

Thanks for support.

She agrees the rules are fair, and her behaviour here is heaps better than at her mums; but that's not right. If she's capable of not talking back and being horrid here, she needs to apply it there.

RandomMess Tue 10-Feb-15 22:06:20

Hmmm but sometimes the effort of being well behaved in one place causes a back lash of worse behaviour elsewhere. Complete classic the first few years at primary school, well behaved there yet hideous at home!!!

I wonder if she is testing the boundaries at home because she is feeling insecure/struggling??? Could be a number of things contributing to her behaviour with her Mum.

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