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Khill301
Khill301 asks:
Q:

Out of control 8 year old.

We now have custody of my 8 yr old step son. He has was living with his grandparents and raised by them for most of the last 6 years. He has been allowed to run wild, do what he wanted, lacks respect or caring for other people. Talks/screams back at adults to get his way, orders adults around "gimme that now", "because I want it now". When he doesn't get his way he will throw a screaming fit and break his toys and things that belong to others, after the temper fit he says you will buy me a new toy it was your fault it broke. How do I teach him respect for others and that children don't rule the house. He is going in to the third grade and it worries me that he will have behavior issues with the amount of rules and guideline he has to follow.  
Member Added on Sep 4, 2011
Have tried the "tough love" way, my step son could care less. Tried time outs, and loss of privileges, tried talking and explaining to him, all to no avail. He doesn't seem to care about the consequences of his actions or how they effect anyone.  I know it will take time to get it corrected. But he refuses to follow rules and do as he is told without causing upheaval in the household.  If he doesn't get what he wants he makes the rest of the household miserable.  The pouting, yelling, stomping around, and breaking things for attention when he is under punishment.  Or the fake crying fits to get sympathy because evil step mother punished him by taking away his video game privileges.  Patience is thin and the situation gets worse and we lose any head way we have made when he visits his mother or grandparents for the weekend.  At 8 years old he has already learned manipulation and selfishness by watching his mother actions toward his grandparents.  
I was a child raised by a divorced single mother, I knew respect and cared for others feeling, took responsibility for my actions.
I understand the grandparents right to spoil grandchildren too.....but this is was way to the extreme.  At times he is cold distant with empty emotionless eyes when we have family talks or discuss the effects his behavior has on other people. This scares me.
In Topics: Discipline and behavior challenges
> 60 days ago

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Expert

Boys Town National Hotline
Sep 6, 2011
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What the Expert Says:

Thank you for contacting Education.com and reaching out to help your step son.

It sounds like you are going through a difficult time because your step son did not have good boundaries and structure in the past. It also sounds like he is really testing you. Stay consistent by giving him consequences for his behaviors like you have been doing and over time he will know you are not going to go away and he is there to stay. Also practice giving him praise, even for the smallest things you see him do or hear him say which are positive. Boys Town recommends praising children 4 times more than you reprimand them, or a 4:1 ratio of positive to negative comments.

Teach your step son respect by modeling respect to others and by treating him with respect even when he is out of control and difficult to handle. Do your best to keep your emotions under control and not lose it when he does. He will eventually come to understand that the outcome is not going to change; he still has the consequence. During this period of transition he also needs to know that you love him but you don't like his behavior. In other words, you don't want him to feel he is a bad kid. You want him to come to the understanding that even though his behaviors are not acceptable, you still love him.

When he breaks a toy while in a tantrum and blames you for it, you don't have to defend yourself because he will learn that the broken toy is the natural consequence of his behavior because you are not going to replace it. On the other hand it is also important to try to build a sense of hope and forgiveness in children. When consequences get piled on top of each other the child can feel there is no hope and they can't get out of the hole so why try. When the child is calm you can discuss with him the ways he can earn back his privileges with good behavior. Try to help him learn how to identity when he is angry and teach him other ways to express the anger such as taking a deep breaths, counting to 10 before reacting, or walking away to a "safe seat" where he can think and calm down rather than hurt someone.

Boys Town is known for Common Sense Parenting, which is a very positive and successful parenting technique. Ask your son's school if they are aware of CSP and if they know where classes are held. You may also find the book and DVD "Common Sense Parenting for School Aged Children" at your bookstore or library. Please take a look at our website: www.parenting.org for more ideas. You can also call our Hotline and speak with a trained parenting counselor anytime. We are here 24 hours, every day to help parents and children of all ages.  If you provide us with your city and state we can also locate a professional Family Therapist in your area who may be able to help you through this tough time.  

Take care and best wishes to you and your child. We hope to hear from you again in the near future!

Sincerely,

Cynthia, Counselor
Boys Town National Hotline
1-800-448-3000
hotline@boystown.org
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Additional Answers (4)

periwinkle
periwinkle writes:
I'm a grandmother,and teacher of a childcare. First be consecutive, it hurts but if he is breaking toys then don't replace till things get better.He has to give respect and in return respect is given to him. Sit down have family talks. Understand for 6 years he was able to do whatever and it's going to take time to get him back to being a 6 year old child children start at age 1 learning what they can do and for 5years that's what he's learn,he was at that learning stage so it's going to take time but he's been able to do what he wants and now you have to be patience but be consecutive.It's called tough love.
> 60 days ago

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JeanneBrockmyer
JeanneBrock... writes:
It is great that you are willing to take on the challenge of a child who has apparently spent years without appropriate discipline.  I can't think of many families who would welcome that type of challenge.  However, I also can't think of many families who could successfully handle this transition without professional help.  It is critical that you, your spouse, and your stepson get this right.  So I am not going to make any recommendation other than to seek professional counseling as soon as possible.  This is not a self-help situation. Talk to your family doctor or pediatrician for a referral.

Jeanne H. Brockmyer, Ph. D.
education.com expert clinical child psychologist
> 60 days ago

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Khill301
Khill301 writes:
We are seeing a child psychologist but it isn't helping, I see a therapist as well to try and deal with the emotional strain. But as I said any headway we make gets destroyed with his weekend visits with mother and grandparents.
> 60 days ago

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Khill301
Khill301 writes:
We are seeing a child psychologist but it isn't helping, I see a therapist as well to try and deal with the emotional strain. But as I said any headway we make gets destroyed with his weekend visits with mother and grandparents.
> 60 days ago

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