You do not want to make an 8 year old tougher. You do want him to be able to express his emotions without crying. Crying is a learned response that he was able to use when he was younger and since he has not learned a better way - he still does it. One way to deal with that is to not listen to him when he is crying. Have him go to a quiet place where he can gather his thoughts and when he is able to talk without crying - then you not only listen to him, but help him with his problem. You might also look into books that can help him express his emotions .... like "don't rant and rave on Wed.:the childrens anger control book." It and others like it can be found here. https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Rant-Rave-Wednesdays-Anger-Control/dp/0933849540/ref=pd_cp_14_1?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=MRQ3KJCKHAZS6QHRK37A
One problem is certainly that he is being bullied by his brothers. He is only 8! His brothers are what 10 and up? If this were going on in the playground of my school, the brothers would be in deep trouble. You do NOT allow this to go on. There is a huge difference between what an 8 year old can put up with and what a 12 can. I might even guess that the next youngest is one of the worse because he is paying back what his older brothers did to him.
I would talk to his school teachers and see if he has the same problems at school. If he does not - then the problem lies at home and that is where the solution lies.
Not that it matters, but I am curious as to when you have a family of all boys, he has access to dolls and dresses?
It is also possible that acting girl like is his only defense against his brothers? Point being that unless you are willing to arm him against them, they are the ones who need to back off.
As to the possibility of his sexual orientation which you seem to be much more worried about them being a punching bag...it will be what it will be. Kids of this age go through all kinds of identity things. It may pass or it may not. It really doesn't matter, what does matter is that from your description - he seems to be in pain. Once again, talking to his school teacher is very important. If he does not show these problems at school, then you know where to work to help him.
Argh, I feel for this little boy. All kids are different and before he came to your house, he had a whole life that was perfectly fine for him. :)
I agree that making him tougher to the extent he can tolerate his step brothers trying to wrestle him or put up with whatever other abuse (said with a grain of salt, but it probably DOES feel like abuse to him) they dole out is inappropriate. How about some rules for your older boys? That would be the route I take. It's socially unacceptable to do things to other kids that aren't open to it from touching them, their things, etc. That is ill mannered of your older kids. I'm raising two sons myself. One doesn't like kids touching him. That's just his personality. He didn't want to wrestle or play around in a rough way. So? Just who he is so he set boundaries telling others to knock it off if they did that to him. This kid has a right to NOT like what your sons are doing to him. And you should see your sons as out of line for continuing it. The phrase 'boys will be boys' is one that I find super annoying because ya, they will if no one steps in and teaches them appropriate behavior.
Some kids do like dolls and what not. My son . . . with a very macho dad . . .went to a toy store and picked out a Barbie (ballerina Barbie no less). My husband's eyes were wide but he kept his mouth shut. My son took ballerina Barbie to the hardware store, to the family picnic, everywhere for a while. He'd hold it and make her spin and dance. We kept quiet. So, he was into it. lol At 14, he's a guy in sports, with guy friends and no dolls or barbies around. But if he did, it would just be who he is.
It's difficult to blend families. And this boy has had some trauma in his life of his parents breaking up. He may cling to certain things or have trouble adjusting to this new arrangement. I'd show him as much empathy as you can muster! And watch your sons and keep them in line. Your step son has entered territory as an outsider and your kids are the insiders. that could be intimidating for an 8 year old.
Agree that working on his responses to eliminate the over emotion of crying to express himself is a good idea. It does work to say "I want to hear what you are upset about but you have to stop crying for me to understand and listen".
Anyway, I hope it all goes peacefully and this boys dad is an advocate for him! good luck
It's amazing, and sad, to me how many stepdads think their stepsons are wimps. And it's astounding that you think you are "walking on eggshells around him" when in fact, he is walking on eggshells around you.
It is amazing what more information can do to change the whole dynamic.
I twice asked if he was having the same problem in school - if I had known that he was having similar problems, my answer would have been a lot different.
I do think that getting the book I suggested and helping him to work to express his emotions will be very helpful. Kids of his age do not know how to express emotions. It will not work overnight, but it will help. And it is something that can be done as a family. I also wonder if having a "help" word would help. this is basically a word that means "everybody back off and give me some space." You can pick a word - for some reason I think "uncle" was used in the good old days - and practice it, make it a fun game. And having a quite, special place for him - or anybody in the family - to go to will also help. We have done that in the classroom for kids with special needs and it really does help.
But, back to the school thing. It is unusual for a 7 (?) year old to get kicked out of two schools. As a retired elementary school principal, I never would have kicked a child out of my school, because how can you help a child if you don't have them with you? So, I am curious as to their reasons, as that will help us understand him better.
There is definitely something going on with him. The loss of his mother certainly doesn't help, but he was kicked out of two schools while he was with her. That is unusual. And it is something that I would bring up with the school psychologist if one is available.
I do wonder if he has something like Sensory Processing Disorder? Basically, it causes you to react to outside stimuli. And your reactions can be extreme. Kids on the autism spectrum when they go into their defensive mode can also have similar reactions. If he does have SPD he might over react to things like loud noises, bright lights, movement, fabrics, even food textures. If this seems possible, an occupational therapist trained in SPD can do an evaluation and give lots of helpful ways to combat this. More information on SPD can be found here -
And, I really, of course, don't know what his problem is based on our rather limited conversations. But, there is something going on and its more then just the way he plays with your boys. Yes, you can help him to respond appropriately to things that bother him - but it will take awhile as you have to break years of habit. But, its what the cause is of his reactions. Is it the loss of mother and friends, or does it go much deeper. And since this apparently started when he was with mom - I think it is worth looking into.
And, I apologize for the "bullying" remarks. My experiences in education have made me kind of protective. And, I've got to hand it to you. You have 3 eight year old boys and a three year old boy running around your house. Wow!
If you do have any more info on why he got booted out of those two schools (and I realize you were a long ways away), it might be helpful.
I hope this helps more then my last post. Best wishes.
Here he is, for reasons of his own personality and/or possibly medically diagnosable reasons, he has been rejected by his mother and sent across the country to live with kids who are strangers to him. The kids see him as an unpleasant addition to their lives. (As they might, with all the whining and tattling.) What happened to him when he lived with his mother? She might have been very hard for him to live with, through reasons of her own impatience with him. What is going on with him mentally (such as Sensory)? Has that ever been diagnosed?
Also, you refer to your boyfriend. How permanent is your household? Is your youngest child from the boyfriend? Are you intending to get married? What happens to the boy if the two of you break up? Is this part of the underlying uncertainty or tension for him?
I'd get to a family counselor right away, and discuss what is going on, and then get him to a counselor (that counselor or a different one) if he will talk to one. Poor kid, he's been thrown into the ocean with only a slender rope to hold onto. Don't treat him as so robust that he can problem-solve in a family council, quite yet. He's clearly not robust; frankly it sounds like he's lucky he's not worse than he is.