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abooth
abooth asks:
Q:

How do I get my boyfriend's children with attitudes to listen to me?

I live with my boyfriend and his three kids. We have been together for almost 2 years now. I don't feel comfortable disiplining the kids but here lately I have started to try to stand them in the cornor or have them lay down but it doesn't work. It is bringing me to tears because they don't listen and are so disrespectful. I have tried to and they just laugh at me like it doesn't matter. Then when I tell there dad he just says they are being kids. When he ask them to do something or stop doing something they listen. There mother isnt even in the picture she has been gone for years. I just dont know how I should handle the situation. I just want them to start listening to me when I ask them to stop doing something or when I ask them to do something. I just need some advice!!! Help me please. I have tried everything and nothing seems to be working.
In Topics: Discipline and behavior challenges
> 60 days ago

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Expert

Wayne Yankus
Jun 16, 2008
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What the Expert Says:

Dad needs to take charge since he is the one with custody of the children. Until you are married or share custody, your role will be to help dad seek behavioral counseling through his children's pediatrician.

At that age, simple, immediate time out or use of direct discipline works.  It may also be repetitive.  Ask dad what he expects of you when you are alone with the children.
 

Wayne A. Yankus, MD, FAAP
expert panelist: pediatrics

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Additional Answers (3)

kat_eden
kat_eden , Parent writes:
Hi there,

Sounds like a really frustrating situation for you!  My kids are 3 and 5 so I can understand a little of what you're dealing with.  I agree with Dr. Yankus that you should start out by having an honest conversation with your boyfriend (when the kids aren't around).  You could share your frustration and let him know that you really need his support.  Then maybe you could talk to the kids together.  Let them know that you BOTH love them and that you want to make life better for everyone in your family.  Then together you all can lay out your expectations for their behavior.  Here's a great article on step parenting:  http://www.deancare.com/dhs/med_specialties/psychiatry/psych_step-parenting.pdf  

In terms of how to make things better as you're disciplining...We use a marble jar in our house for rewards and consequences.   When my kids behave well (doing what I ask the first time I ask, helping around our house, getting their homework done, etc) the "earn" a certain number of marble in their marble jar.  If they're not behaving well, they lose marbles.  When the marble jar gets full, they earn a treat (going to the bookstore to buy a new book, going out for breakfast at their favorite diner, etc).  

It's been a great system for us because it ends all the arguing and pleading that used to happen.  Now instead of asking five times for them to get their shoes on, I just say.  "Please get your shoes on so we can go to school.  I'm going to cound down from five...5....4...."  Whatever number I'm on when they have their shoes on is how many marbles they get in their jar.  Or I'll say "I'll pay 5 marbles if you all can get your playroom cleaned up in five minutes".   Or sometimes I'll have to say "Since you all got and a fight and couldn't work it out together, I'm going to charge 3 marbles".  

It also helps them work together.  If I tell my three year old I'm going to take marbles away because he's whining, my older son will start working to help the three year old change his attitude.

Maybe you could give that system a try?

Good luck and please let us know how things are going.

Kat
Education.com Community Team
> 60 days ago

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abooth
abooth writes:
Hey Kat,
 That is a very good idea. I believe we are going to try that out. I do have one question though....Do each of the kids have a jar or is there just one jar? Thanks for you help.
> 60 days ago

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kat_eden
kat_eden , Parent writes:
I think it works best to have one jar for the family.  That way they have to work together to fill it up!
> 60 days ago

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