I have been married for 1 1/2 years. I have a 4 month old baby and a 7 year old step son from my husbands first marriage. When my husband and I first started dating he had a lot of guilt about the divorce and so he gave into his son a lot and let him get away with bad behavior often. His exwife doesn't believe in punishment unless he did something really bad, like fighting in school. I really think she has parent blinders on and thinks there is nothing wrong with her son, as many parents do.
His behaviors include:
* almost always having to be reminded about manners
* is rude to people he doesn't know ( like when we introduce him to one of our friends he turns his back and mumbles hi. also hates ordering his own food and expects us to do it for him)
* refuses to ask for help with anything and if made to breaks down crying
let me explain that last one. Last night for example I was getting ready to go out so I was in the bathroom doing my hair and makeup. My step son kept hanging around the bathroom door dancing around (really had to pee). My husband said to him " why don't you just ask karen if you can please use the bathroom real quick" he responded "I don't have to go that bad" My husband then told him again to ask. after a short arguement my step son began sobbing as he asked me if he can use the bathroom.
this happens on a fairly regular basis. When ever he is told he has to do something he doesn't want to he crys and crys. We aren't making me scrub our floors and clean toilets. It's things like saying goodbye to someone or thank you for something.
When it comes to talking to people he doesn't know, like a waitress, he is not a shy kid. He is very outgoing and loud. He gets reports from school that he talks too much. He is very smart and does great in school. But his social skills and lack of manners are embarrasing. He's behavior as far as saying hi to a new person isn't a shy behavior, but rather a "I don't have to talk to anyone if I don't have to" attitude. I hate to say it but he's a spoiled brat and my husband and I can't seem to break him of this behavior. He really thinks that we should just do things for him and he can act how ever he pleases.
Please help. It's hard because we only have him on weekends. But this behavior puts a stress on my husband and I and it's so embarrassing. Our friends won't even watch him for us.
Hi, I would say--- pick your battles with him. Start with a couple of requests and work on those. If it is really important to you that he greet your friends politely and say goodbye politely--- make this your goal and praise him like crazy for it. The build from there. If he hears that he isn't doing anything right in this regard, he will probably give up trying. He may also be trying to figure out how he fits into everything which is common for that age boy after divorce. He may also see everyone goo gooing with the baby and be a little jealous. I think it is important to mimmick how you want him to act. Saying please and thank you to him all the time and that kind of thing. As far as picking your battles, if it isn't the thing you are working on----- I'd give in a little. Like if you can see if he has to use the bathroom, just ask if he'd like you to move for a minute so he can go. He'd probably say yes and the problem is over without any tantrum and tears that makes everyone upset. I don't think this would ruin your chances of him growing up to be a responsible adult but would bring a little peace to things. Also, another tip I think I've seen work well----- give him "special" jobs and let him be your helper and make a big deal out of it. We do this with my older son who wouldn't probably volunteer to do anything to be helpful on his own, but if he is feeling important and like my big boy vs his little brother--- it's amazing what I can get him to do. Anyway, good luck!! Kids are hard work, aren't they?
I think I would agree with specialmom. She seems to have a pretty good handle on this situation. You really do have to pick your battles or else there will be constant fighting. The biggest problem as you already know are that he gets away with a lot at his mothers house. This is a huge issue especially when she doesn't seem to care about his social behavior. I have a boy who has social issues and I pick my battles. The last few battles have been what he can watch on tv because of how he reacts to them. He tries to play them out like bakugon, pokemon, chaotic, etc. He acts these cartoons out and ends up hurting people or breaking their things. We've been trying for a few months and we're still fighting the issue. I hope this will change soon. Please dont give up. Maybe you and your husband could sit down and have a long chat with the boys mother and try to see if you can get her to work with you instead of against you. Maybe some sort of counseling might help but try these other things first and see where it gets you. Have you ever tried a reward system for good behavior? It usually works but with the divorce and all, I think he needs to see a counselor. He needs to have a place to vent or talk about how he feels. It could be the best thing for him! Kids certainly are worth the work even though sometimes we may think that there are greener pastures on the other side of the fence. Keep trying! Good Luck.
having to be reminded about manners
he turns his back and mumbles hi
It's things like saying goodbye to someone or thank you for something
hates ordering his own food and expects us to do it
refuses to ask for help with anything and if made to breaks down crying
When it comes to talking to people he doesn't know he is not a shy kid
gets reports from school that he talks too much
his social skills and lack of manners are embarrasing
I don't have to talk to anyone if I don't have to" attitude
my husband and I can't seem to break him of this behavior
I'm going to suggest another reason for this child's behaviour. Believe it or not, the parts of your answer which I copied and pasted above, are all examples of behaviour of children suffering from anxiety. I don't think this child is suffering from an anxiety "disorder", but I do think it is highly possible that this child is suffering from extreme stress resulting in the behaviours which you are seeing. Coming from a broken home with different expectations and rules and a new sibling can certainly cause frustration and stress in small children.
I might suggest you and your husband educate yourselves on this issue to see if this might be the problem - google "anxiety in children" or similar words/phrases. Is there any history of mental health disorders on either of the parents' biological sides? Whatever, I really think that patience and kindness and understanding are key to the mental health of this child. Hope this helps ....
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