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I'm on wits end. How do you take control over your house?

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I became a step mom to a 3 year old last year. He is now four. He never had a mom figure growing up. He also lived with his grandparents while my husband was deployed, settling in his duty station, and fought a custody battle with the mother. He's a very nice kid. He loves everyone and will talk anyone's ear off. Sometime I think he talks just to hear himself. (He talks to himself a lot in his toy room). He's very loving when he doesn't have an attitude. And he's so smart. He loves math and stuff. But he hates learning to write. But he also has one of the worse attitude and temper I've seen on a child. I'm 24 and don't have any kids of my own. When I first took on the mom roll everyone told me he's just testing you. He would talk back, get mad when told no, scream yell and kick. It has been almost a year and I feel like I've lost control of my home. Now today, I feel like I'm going to loose it. I'm home everyday with him and it just seems like its getting worse and I have no control over my house. He argues all the time. Talks back to me like he's the parent. Will not listen to anything I or his dad has to say. Sometime it seems deliberately done. You'll tell him something and he'll smile and do it anyways. He absolutely has a problem with discipline. Telling him no starts World War III in my house. I've tried sending him to time out for five minutes. He screams at the top of his lungs until you show him attention. And he can do this for 30 minutes (he does it during nap time when he doesn't want to). I've tried taking toys or TV privileges away. He gets violent. I've been hit, bite, kicked, and pinch. He has holes in the back of his door from him punching and throwing stuff at it. When he gets really mad at you he'll start hitting himself. I've been told he was going to kill me. I've tried spanking. He thinks its a game and laughs at me. I've tried rewarding him with sweets or toys. Now he think we owe him that. Like for taking a nap he'll wake up come out of his mom and tell us "umm I get my candy now" or when we go to a store he'll ask "soo if I'm good I get a toy. Deal"? I've tried to sit down and talk to him when he does something bad to explain why its not acceptable. And he will not listen to me at all. He wont pay no attention. I'll tell him to look at me when I talk to him. He'll look at me for a second then his mind starts to wonder and hes staring at something on the wall. I'll have him repeat something I tell him like "No more hitting the dog" and he'll tell me he forgot. A couple of seconds after I tell him. It gets frustrating. I can tell his actions are really wearing down my husband too. It gets to where we can't go places as a family cause we don't know how our son will act. Sometime I think it's affecting my marriage cause we get so worked up over his actions we're in a bad mood and don't talk to each. We don't ever fight but I have a feeling sometime soon that'll change if my sons actions don't. I love my son to pieces but it gets to a point where I just want to wave the white flag and leave. I feel like I've lost all control over my household. I'm afraid to bring this up to my husband cause I don't want him to think I'm giving up on him.

answers (1)

Hi Shelby! I can understand how frustrating this is for you and your husband!! Sounds very stressful, and when you feel that he is behaving deliberately to manipulate you, that belief can cause you to feel even worse and more out of control! My suggestion is this: I think this little fella has been through an awful lot. I think he's been through more than many adults have had to go through. AND, he doesn't have the coping skills that adults generally have by virtue of their years of experience with tough situations. All behavior is needs-based. Because little children have such undeveloped verbal communications skills, it becomes a parent's job to interpret the behavior to discover the underlying need and help the child verbalize better and get their needs met. When children feel better, they behave better. This little guy has had a lot of turmoil in his life, and my guess is that he is trying desperately to figure out his world and how to manage in it. He would benefit from knowing a few things: 1. That the adults are in charge and he is safe. 2. That his problems and needs are understood and that he can count on the adults around him to help him. 3. Better ways of communicating. He can benefit from you modeling appropriate ways of communicating when you are feeling angry, hungry, tired, frustrated, etc. 4. And, he can also benefit from your empathic listening. One thing that you can try saying to him is something like, "I know that you are hurting right now because otherwise you wouldn't talk to me like that. I want to help you. Can you tell me what you need? Instead of telling him what not to do, try telling him what he can do! Instead of "no hitting the dog," try saying "The dog loves when you pet him." As frustrated as you and your husband are, he is probably even more frustrated. You have more capacity for coping than he does, so I believe everyone will be happier if you can shift your perspective here and help him. I hope that's helpful to you!!!

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