School-Aged Children

step-son punishment problem.

i have a 10 and half year old step son and he is only here tuesday/thursday 4-8pm and every other weekend sat 9am sunday 8pm so it's very hard to punish him for things he does. and he is not a very well behaved child. his mother is a parent who lets him watch way too much tv and play way too much video games and do a lot of things that he shouldn't be. so we don't allow him to play video games and not much tv time either. so when he does things such as "hit his 4 year old brother with the body board" cause a tooth that wasn't even loose yet to come out. then what can we do for his punishment. we know that his mother will not inforce anything at home.Help!
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Re: step-son punishment problem.

  • There's a blended family board at the bump; you might check it out.

    I'm not a huge fan of punishment as a discipline strategy. It doesn't work well for most issues. Discipline is about teaching him how you want him to behave. I like a transparently clear set of expectations for behavior.

    It seems like your approach is more reactive to his mother's standards than a thoughtful and balanced one. If a kid is used to video gaming and hasn't been given instruction and support in playing appropriately with same aged peers or much young kids, it's hard to fault him for failing miserably. You could use gaming as a carrot for desired behavior instead of banning it all together. You could help him find an activity with his dad on the nights he is with you to have some structure. Scouting or a sport might be a good way to engage him with same aged peers instead of kids less than half his age.

  • We are signing him up in the scout troop my father runs for many years since my brothers wherei it. We hope that with the scouts he will gain more confidence, and make good friends. The school he goes to has a lot of rough families. We r not happy with the things we hear about his school and his friends. He is suppose to be going to a new school this fall, so I hope things will start changing but I'm not so sure yet. 

    I have a very tough situation with him, his mom has two girls from her last Bo and now is pregnant again with new bf baby. But he is now in jail. So not so sure how my step son life is doing over there. Mom is not a good role model and well I won't say what I truly want to say aout her. She does things most mothers would cringe over.  

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  • It seems like you are frustrated with him and his mom.  I also agree with auntie that focusing on punishment probably won't work -- as you're finding out.  And solving the issue with punishment is probably not going to be effective with him.

    I think what you want to do is approach it by thinking of it as teaching him.  Even though he may have some behaviors that are pretty different from what you'd like to see, and even though he's already 10, he can still learn and benefit from a consistent, firm approach that doesn't judge him or his mom.

    For example, with the video games, you can't just pull the plug on a kid who is used to playing video games all the time and tell them "No more video games! They're bad for you! Find something else to do!" (not that you did this in so many words, but you get my point...) You have to approach it gradually but firmly.  Involve him in the process.  You might say, "Hey, we think that screen time is okay in moderation.  That means we have to have limits on how long we watch/play and what we watch and play.  We want you to have a balance of screen time, outside time, and family time."  Then let him say what he thinks would be a reasonable amount of time to spend gaming.  He may surprise you and pick a time limit that's lower than what you'd pick.  Help him manage his time for tv and games by planning when is a good time for him to play games while he visits and using the kitchen timer.  Then, sit with him and make a list of things he'd like to do that are not tv and video games so that he has something to think about doing when he turns the tv off.

    Sometimes my son (almost 9) will ask to play video games because he's having trouble deciding what else to do; it's easier for him to just say "Mom, can I play Mario for a while?"  Making a list of things he could do instead really helped us both.  My son was getting REALLY hooked on video games; it took a few months of consistent work, but he's much better about balancing and limiting his own screen time now. 

    Secondary English teacher and mom of 2 kids:

    DD, born 9/06/00 -- 9th grade
    DS, born 8/25/04 -- 4th grade
  • I have an 11 yo step son.  He spends weekends with us, but its thought because his mom has different behavioral expectations than us, so each time he goes back to mom for the week, he comes back with the behavior issues we resolved the week before.

    Its really hard for kids to adjust to 2 houses with 2 sets of rules.  Maybe he is feeling some jealousy towards his brother and acting out?  My SS has to follow our house rules, but we spend a lot of time talking to him about why and working with him.  We try not to punish because we don't want him to see out house as a place he dislikes.  Can you soften your tv rules so that it is not such a big adjustment to him from his mom?

    GL, be consistent, it takes time, but he will get it 

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  • Thanks everyone for all this advice. I think u have a great idea by talking to him about how much tv, video game time he gets here. That's why I want it's also hard sometimes on his weekends we r so busy with errands. Or taking kids places my daughter does ballet on Saturday. So I will talk to him tomorrow about finding a good balance of his time. 

    What should we do in situations of violent behavior towards the other kids, his mom told my husband that he does this at home too(not sure why she hasn't told us this before). He has a very short temper with people. So I don't know what to do with being hurtful to his siblings he says he is not jealous but I know he is. Every time there is something new in our house, he seems to notice it within the first two to five minutes of walking in the house. And he starts touching it and playing with it without asking. Ad that really is upsetting me now.


    I care about him a lot but the older he gets the worst  he is getting and I have a hard time trusting him. 

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  • Violence is never acceptable and I agree that you guys must address that.  I would have my H talk to him (so that you are not the one laying down the rules) before he comes for a visit and explain that while siblings can be annoying, hitting hurting is never allowed.  Let him know its a "house rule" that applies to everyone.  Decide together (maybe even include him and his mom on this decision making process) what his consequences should be if he is violent (taking away tv time. Etc).  Be sure you discuss it all before he gets to the house, so that if there is an incident, he knows why he is being punished.  

    Honestly, at 10.5, if he continues to act out violently, I would seek counseling.  At that age he should be able to control his temper and if setting up clear limits doesn't help, he may need more support (professional, objective support).  

    I agree with pp that you should check out the blended families board in the bump.  The ladies over there have a lot of experience.   

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