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nickiec
nickiec asks:
Q:

How do I correct a lack of discipline?

I am an almost step mom to an eleven year old boy. His mom is not in the picture for the most part and he is very angry with her. His dad wasn't allowed to decide how the boy would be raised and what he would and would not be allowed to do and say.When the mom checked out of his life, his dad and I have become full time parents to him. Now that this little boy is older he has such a bad mouth and argues constantly. Watches things I wouldn't suggest to an adult and throws fits when he is told that he has to do things our way. I want him to grow up to be a good person who knows right from wrong and can be around other people. Time outs don't work, and lectures don't work. He is home schooled because he can not function in a regular classroom setting. We constantly got calls from the school that he was in trouble and made it difficult for the other kids to work. We need some serious help. What do you suggest?
In Topics: School and Academics, Discipline and behavior challenges, Communicating with my child (The tough talks)
> 60 days ago

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Expert

Dr.Monika
Aug 30, 2010
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What the Expert Says:

Sorry to hear about your almost step-son's behavioral problems.  His social inadequacy is rooted in his past, and it will take some time to steer him onto the right tract.  Start with good discipline.  Discipline is a way of teaching a child to function in a family and the society.  

First of all, you and the father have to establish house rules and consequences of breaking them.

Second of all, be consistent with enforcing of the consequences.  This techniques makes discipline very effective.

Third, be a good role model.

Fourth, use positive reinforcement: praise your almost step-son for good behaviors.

Last but not least, if his social behaviors are out of hand, talk with his health care provider.  Perhaps he needs to be evaluated for a behavioral disorder.

Best regards.
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Additional Answers (2)

aqblickley
aqblickley writes:
Hi there,

I'm sorry to hear that you're having this trouble, but I think it's wonderful that you're so determined to work towards achieving good behavior! I'd also like to compliment you for maintaining such a positive attitude, despite your stepson's discouraging behavior.

We have an entire portal devoted to Blended Family Issues... as there can be many of them! (I know from personal experience, coming from a very complicated blended family myself.)

The first link I'm including below is to the entire portal, so that you can browse some different articles that may provide helpful insight for you. I'm also including links to a couple other articles that feature some great tips. As I was reading over them, I viewed them from the perspective of a stepchild, and I think they really do a fantastic job of capturing the feelings of the kid (or kids) involved, too.

Hope this helps, and thanks for using JustAsk!

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ShirleyCressDudley
ShirleyCres... , Teacher, Child Professional, Parent writes:
You’re already doing an outstanding job- taking responsibility for your soon-to-be stepson, helping him with school, and basic everyday expectations.

You mentioned that timeouts don’t work. That’s one option- discipline for poor behavior. Possibly you haven’t had a long enough time out, or a quick enough reaction to his poor behavior. If the timeout is consistent, immediate, and equal to the “crime” – it is more effective. (for an eleven-year-old, a 30-60 minute time out is appropriate, a time for him to go to his room and read, or clean up an area for 30 minutes.)

Another technique is praise. When you “catch him” doing something good- praise him immediately.  You can also offer rewards at the end of the week, or the end of the day, if certain behavior is maintained. An example may be- a day without temper tantrums means you get to watch a 30 minute television program this evening.  A week of great school work results in going to the movies, or renting a movie. If you are really organized, and would like to do this- you can create a chart, with stars for good behavior, and give rewards related to how many stars he earns each day.

Make sure your spouse supports you and is in agreement with you in your efforts.  A “united front” of parents will be more effective, than if the two of you disagree on his behavior and discipline.  If you do disagree- talk with your mate in private and get the issues resolved before presenting them to your stepson.

As far as the television or videos he is watching, you and your mate are the parents now, and you can control his viewing. Remove any inappropriate videos from his collection, and prevent him from watching anything you feel is important.

It will be difficult, and he will fight you on these boundaries, discipline and limits in his life.. but- a child perceives boundaries and limits as love. Although you will see him protest, he knows, deep inside, that you are doing this because you love him.  Remind him daily that you love him and want what’s best for him.

Good luck.  You can make a real difference in this child’s life. Good for you for having the drive, interest and love for him.

Shirley Cress Dudley, MA LPC NCC
Blended Family Expert
Director of The Blended and Step Family Resource Center

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