Step-son is driving me up the wall HELP(37 Posts)
Bit of a background - So my step-son is almost 5 and lives with us full time and has for just under a year now. He still sees mom on holidays and talks to her on the phone every other day. He was taken from her due to her new boyfriend being convicted of child abuse and her having drug problems.
Now when he first cane he was a nasty angry and manipulative boy, he hit my daughter (1 year younger than him) with fists and with objects. He gave her black eyes frequently and would push her down stairs - she is now (understandably) scared of him. He ignored me and told me his mum would kick me in the head all the time, he threw tantrums about everything and when I done up his bedroom for him, to help him feel at home, he gouged holes in the newly painted walls and threw his toys around his room and broke them. This is only some of the things he would do. He also nagged constantly from the second he woke up to the second he went to bed, and screamed for 2-3 hours at bed time constantly sneaking out of bed - we got maybe 30 mins of him being happy a day.
It took 7 months but he started making some huge positive changes and even more after our new baby was born. And we started bonding really well and he was loving towards us all FINALLY. I bend over backwards to make him feel a part of our family and loved and keep him happy and it seemed to be working. But recently he has started telling me he doesn’t like me and wakes up in the dead of the night and has tantrums and wakes the whole house. He has punched me in the face twice now and glares at me if he’s in the room with me (it is a look of pure hate). It’s hard enough coping with 3 kids on the lack of sleep from a newborn but he adds another 3 hours of tantrums in the middle of the night on top of the newborns waking. It’s making me not want to be around him at all and I can’t even stand to be in the same room as him, and because of his violent and disruptive start in my home it’s bringing up a really negative feeling in me toward him. I really don’t k ow what to do cause I just want our home to be happy for everyone and his behaviour is affecting EVERYONE all over again. My daughter is scared and women all through the night, my newborn is woken all the time by him screaming and yelling day and night (and he sounds demonic when he yells too its really scary even for an adult) and myself and my partner are dead on our feet and struggleing with him all over again. I’m at my wits end and even had the horrible thought of sending him back to his mum cause I just can’t do it anymore!
You've not mentioned your dp once? What does he do? Personally I couldn't live with a child who attacked my children not for any man. I'm sorry you're going through this but your poor daughter
Op, so sorry, it sounds really tough.
What support has SS got? What transitions happened around the move? Does he know why he lives with u? Do u know what abuse went on? He sounds hurt, sad and angry (anger often masks pain/distress).
What’s his dad doing to help? What’s their relationship like?
I suspect It will be tough as he will push you all away having been rejected so young, he will do it to protect himself from the hurt of you and everyone rejecting him just like his Mum did, this won’t go away easily.
Does he have school support? What does he like doing? Why does he scream, is it night terrors?
Appreciate it’s tough, he needs so much, but the other kids also have needs.
Who is helping with the violence?
Please explore support for him and you all as a family.
Is he with you long term? Will Mum want/have him back? Does he see her, does he want to?
The violence needs consequences
What are they? What consequences do U use?
please have a look at the therapeutic parents facebook page. There are many people out there who have been through what you are going through. Standard parenting does not work on children with issues with attachment, which is likely as his background suggests he was neglected for the first 4 years of his life. I would imagine that he is feeling unsettled because of the new baby, and wanting your attention more than ever.
Therapeutic parenting relies heavily on empathy, playfulness and acceptance of the child, and helping them figure out what is going on for them. There are some great resources out there - used a lot by the adoption and fostering communities.
The idea is to help your SS create a genuine connection and attachment to you. It wont be easy, but the results, especially with this age group, can be very very good.
STart by accepting that his nighttime tantrums are probably fear based. He is not doing this to you to wind you up. He is attention needing, not attention seeking.
If you like what you read, consider the Nation Association of Therapeutic Parents (NATP) who offer courses and advice and support for parents - bio, adoptive or foster - on raising kids who have disrupted attachment.
He sounds like a very traumatised young boy and your partner needs to be seeking professional support. But I wouldn't have stayed and subjected my own child to such levels of violence and disruption and I certainly wouldn't have brought a new baby into it. Your partner should have been focusing on addressing the issues with his son.
I wouldn’t allow my children to be attacked. Whatever the boys issues, they are not a good enough excuse for your child to be abused.
Sounds like he had a terrible start in life. I feel sorry for him, for you all because it sounds like there needs to be a support system in place.
Are social work still involved?
I'd firstly speak to your SS's school. They may very well have a support worker or young people team who can come in to do some 1-1 work with him.
Speak to your GP and social work about getting counselling for him, for your dd and for the whole family.
I think you and your dp have done wonderfully well in getting him to a good place but if he's starting to act out again, is it because he's jealous of the new baby? Is his mum saying things to him on the phone? What has caused this behaviour to deteriorate to such a degree after getting him to a good place?
Don't give up but please seek help. It's not fair on your dd to be subjected to violence from him but it's utterly horrifying that a 5 year old is doing and saying those things. Poor kid.
Possibly to do with arrival of new baby?
I'm really shocked that you have stayed in a house where your own daughter has been physically assaulted and is scared to be in her own home.
Sounds like this boy has had a very bad start in life so I would seek professional advice.
He's gone through a lot of change poor lad. Sounds as though the new baby has unsettled him again.
My DP started off being really soft on him and letting him get away with everything “because he has been through so much” and because of that I stayed - I knew he was a good kid and just had been through some shit. I wasn’t willing to leave a man I love and my daughter loves because of bad behaviour. I thought we could fix it and it did look like we had for a while. DP is now really active in parenting him and we work together as a team in all aspects of his parenting both reward and punishment.
When he hits we remove him from the situation immediately and he either has toys taken away from him along with time out and a growling, or if he is having a fit also he is sent to his room. We have no tolerance for sulking and all sulking results in him sent to his room until he stops. It’s hard to parent the violence as at times I have to remove myself as I just want to slap him! Which I would never do as I dispise physical discipline.
We are still fighting with the mother to keep him in our care as she doesn’t see what she has done is all that bad so when he’s with her she tells him that he will “come home” and “don’t listen to them” it’s hard I know the things he says come from her.
We have grandparents who help him with understanding how his behaviour upsets us all and that it’s not ok - so it’s not only coming from us.
I really struggle because I don’t want to leave my DP as he is a fantastic father to ALL the kids and is the only father figure my daughter has and she would be devistated if we split. He is the most amazing hard working man and provides us with everything emotionally and financially we could ever need. I suppose that’s why I was ok with having another baby (which was a surprise baby too)
We have considered sending him to a child counselling service to get him some help with his emotions - however his mother fights back and says we are the reason he is like he is and was never like it before (which we know is not true because of the daycare feedback) it’s like being stuck wanting to help but having no power to.
DP is at his wits end also - is very sad and broken that his son is the way he is. As a parent myself I would be beside myself if my child treated the people I loved like he does and DO has a lot of guilt and shame around it so I suppose he over compensates with him to try to “fix” him
This boy needs really good professional help.
He lived in a home with a child abuser, been taken from his mum, moved in with Dad his partner and your child, then (just why???) a new baby on top of everything.
He is traumatised it’s honestly not hard to understand how this has happened. His dad needs to get a grip of himself and see the GP Monday morning- talk to the school and get a referral to children’s mental health services. It’s possible he resents you not being his mother, does he want his Mum? He will need sensitive professional support and guidance to deal with the fact his mother took such risks over his safety and so couldn’t keep him.
He has a long and hard journey ahead of him.
You really really should have taken action with the violence to your child.
What exactly is Dad doing?
Also he adores his new baby sister. We see him the best around her (when she’s awake) he is calm and quiet and so affectionate to her. His mother is unsettled by the baby however and when he talks about his baby sister she shuts him down and is rude about baby.
Also his Mum has some massive mental health issues. She is a serious drug user and is obsessed with my DP and myself to the point we had to get a restraining order on her
Ok so your no better than his mum really both of you put your feelings for a bloody man over your kids and this is the mess. Your daughter has had black eyes and that wasn’t enough for you to leave and protect her are you joking?
You can not help him now you all need a professional you want to hurt him when he is awful you are all at crisis point. Find a very very good psychologist and pay if you have to but you need help yesterday make your partner get it or leave to protect your children.
You have to learn how to help him understand what he is feeling and how but you can’t do that if he is always sent to his room
So basically a traumatised three year old hit a two year old. This nasty and manipulative three now four year old.
Your ds is traumatised and needs help and a step mother who loves and cares for him. Poor little boy.
Are you in the UK OP? If you are and DC is staying with you after social services involvement you can request therapeutic support without birth mother being involved. The GP or school would be the best place to start to ask for help. You have received good advice about attachment parenting and parenting children who have experienced truama, standard behavioural approaches are likely to make the issues worse not better.
How is contact set up and who set it up? It may need to be supervised if it isn't already and third party supervision may be an effective way forward.
I agree with previous posters his carers have badly let this child down and his route to recovery may be slow, I would plan for a lot of time and effort needing to be spent by DP and yourself to undo this damage. Professional help for all three of you is likely to be needed.
No better than his mum? Are you kidding me! I took this boy in - I loved him and gave him a loving and stable home.
With some hard work the violence towards my daughter is gone and he learnt VERY fast that I would not tolerate it at all! My daughters are my world and I would never stay if they were in any danger - he was a 3 year old boy who was traumatised by his mother! I would not be another mother to walk away from him.
And like I said the new baby was a surprise. If your worn out parenting a difficult child it’s quite easy to forget to take pills. I do not believe in termination and she is very much loved so I’d appreciate not making out like we chose to bring her into that situation!
Your “advice” has done nothing but nasty and hurtful. I would take a look at yourself as a person and maybe show some empathy to parents who are TRYING THEIR BEST!
Not in the UK. We are in NZ and child social services are useless here. He was just handed over with no word other than “mother is transient” and we didn’t find out about the abuse until months after he was in our care and CSS did nothing to help him when he was in that situation so I don’t have much faith in them helping him now. It’s down to us and getting doctors to listen and not just say “it’s a phase”
This poor boy is traumatised and needs a therapeutic approach to parenting and supporting him.
The Therapeutic Parenting group on facebook is a good place for support but I also think you need professional help.
It’s all a big mess and no I don’t believe you protected your daughter. His dad needed to put the effort in straight off the bat and get help to do this. Why didn’t he?
Just get professional help it’s not going to be sorted otherwise and this boy is suffering.
Get good, professional help for all of you.
Forget normal parenting, follow the advice about therapeutic parenting.
Can you seek legal advice regarding ongoing contact with his mother. It sounds as though she is emotionally abusing him.
His little world does not feel very safe right now, but that can continue to get better. Kids don't want to hurt people or be angry. He wants to be good, if he can feel safe enough to let his guard down. Keep going!
I can't answer for nz, but in the uk medical staff taking the history would understand that it wasn't a phase but a history of neglect, abuse and damaged attachment that was causing the behavioural issues. Make sure you make time for yourself and DP as it is going to be a long and difficult road parenting this little boy and you will need all of your resources.
We have considered sending him to a child counselling service to get him some help with his emotions
This should have been in place from day one! He has had a really traumatic upbringing his entire life, of course he needs professional help to heal from that. I would recommend play therapy if you can get him to a good ones. Speak to SS and ask for their recommendation. They may even refer him and get him some free sessions. Whatever you do he must get professional help. You and your DP aren’t experienced in the type of damage caused by abusive/neglectful parents and how beat to heal it.
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now »
Already registered? Log in with:
Please login first.