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Thread: dealing with "I wants" in a step child

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    soon to be somewhere exotic

    Default dealing with "I wants" in a step child

    We've just had my DH's step-son up here for holidays, he is 10, the whole time he was here it was "I want". His behaviour has also been atrocious (answering back etc) when he is told "no". We try not to spoil him, yes he gets to do things like go fishing, go to the beach, 1 amusement park each visit, but he has chores & responsibilities while visiting.

    I know his mother allows the "I wants", that she does give into him and pretty-much smothers him (then gets frustrated when he starts to answer back & throw tantrums when she does say no to him).

    It is hard because that behaviour isn't allowed in our house. We only see him a few times a year and it is like an uphill fight each time he is here, re-instilling the good manners etc that we've taught him (like not chewing with his mouth open, or speaking when he's got a mouth full of food - I've almost given up on the "elbows on table" issue).

    How do you deal with the "I wants" in a child, especially when you're restricted to the type of discipline you can use?

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Jun 2003


    It sounds like you are doing an awesome job to start with.

    I find with Paris the thing that works the best is before we go out we talk about whats going to happen, what behaviour is not going to be tolerated and what the consequences will be of certain types of behaviour. Another thing is to have a trial outing (even if its to the grocery store) and make sure those consequences get put into action. So for example you go out grocery shopping you sit down with DSS and have a chat about what you are going to get from the store, then say that today you won't be buying anything other than what is on your list, if anything else is asked for then you will have to give up another activity as a result. I know at first it sounds harsh, but once the consequence takes place and he realises he has to miss out you'll find the next time it may be easier. Then if he doesn't ask for things praise him, even if it means praising after you've been in the store for only 5 minutes. Praise can be in the form of hugs or verbally but it will make a difference. For him that will be reward enough. And he will soon learn that if he does the right thing it will make him happier too.

    Communication is the biggest key, and whilst sometimes it feels like you are repeating yourself a million times it is effective. I am fairly strict, but also fair and gentle in my approach to parenting. It might not give you instant results but with my niece and my DD this has always been the most effective method. Yes sometimes it results in tantrums and tears but once they realise they are in control of the situation and that they have a choice and are able to replace a type of behaviour with positive behaviour they will be more happy.

  3. #3


    I haven't gor children of that age of step-children so I may be way off the mark but it might be worth having a talk with him that appeals to his intelligence.
    That he's smart enough to understand that different houses have different rules and his mum has the rules that suit her and you have the rules that suit you (nothing wrong with his mum's rules). In your house he needs to follow your rules and remember them for next time he visits.
    I may be wrong but I don't think that 10 is too old for some kind of chart. points on for good and off for bad and if he has enough points he gets X and if he loses too many points he doesn't get Y or similar.
    Positive reinforcement is always great (it works on my DH so I think it works on boys of all ages lol). Try and 'catch him' doing the right thing and praise him. Even he's only done it for a few seconds get in there and praise him before he stops.
    My niece decided to stop brushing her hair a year ago. My sister was arguing about it with her every day. I spoted it brushed once and told her how pretty she looked with her hair like that and the next time I saw her she had brushed her hair again to get the compliment. maybe you could rope a friend in to do something similar - sometimes praise from someone else can be even more effective than parental praise.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    On the other side of this screen!!!


    Try to work out a more mature motivator that you could use, for example, with my 9 yo DD I appeal to her sense of responsibility towards other members of the family and that often will win out against the other less desirable behaviours. Instill a sense of cooperation, working together towards a mutual benefit.

    The other thing that really really works, is when they're doing the right thing (and usually having a nice enjoyable family time as a result) - point that out. eg when she's whipped through her bedroom in 10 minutes we can then enjoyably move onto the next thing. So that the lack of conflict actually becomes the reward (but they need it pointed out as a positive thing). Having a special half hour in the evening of doing something together before bed (a puzzle, reading, a short game, etc) can do wonders for self-esteem and general kid-happiness and desire to cooperate.

    We've also found a pocket money chart is a helpful tool, she wins stars (worth 50, 20 and 10 cents) when she does the right thing without being reminded, but those stars can also be crossed out when necessary! It usually only takes one or two 50c stars to elicit the good behaviour regularly. Also far more effective than repeating yourself over and over again!

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    In Bankworld with Barbara


    Schaz, I have BTDT as an "I want' child on a custodial visit. Has he ever come out with "but Mum always...." when you tell him no? I would bet good money that 1, he is so used to his mum giving in to him that he expects similar from you and 2 that he is testing you both to see how much leverage he can get out of what you give in to him over.

    He is 10, he is smart enough to know by now that if he harps on about it long enough, he usually gets what he wants. So he needs to know from both of you what is acceptable on that front. Treat him with a bit of respect and allow him to have some say in decision making about the things you all do together, but make it very clear what the boundaries are while he is in your house.

    With us, we soon worked out what parent was good for what things we wanted and we also knew what we could get away with at which house - not that we often visited with Dad, but when we were with him we knew he ran a tighter ship than Mum did and so it wasn't hard to toe the line while we were with him it certainly didn't kill us for the week or two weeks we were with him. Next time explain to him that his time visiting is only limited and you don't want to spend it haggling over petty things.

  6. #6
    kirsty_lee Guest


    I agree with Niliac you sound like your doing a fantastic job. Although Me personally hasnt had this problem as this is my first child. But i have lived in a similar situation with my sister who my mum had at a young age to another man then she met my dad and they had me and my brother, but I digress. my sister constantly had the double family life flying between my parents and her dad and step mother. Although it was exciting for my mother to see her daughter it was a constant struggle for my father being the step father to a child who also went through the " i want" phase and just being totally disrespectful . But because it meant alot to my mother, my dad sort of just had to do the best he could. But at the end of the day it came down to the fact that it was my fathers house, and like anywhere you go as a child you be respectful in someone elses home and do as your told. Which i think personally is fair, i was always raised that way and i reckon thats how children should be raised. I think you are doing a fantastic job considering the circumstances you are under which wouldnt be easy on anyone.but to cut a long post short lol im sure your husband would understand the strain that this has on you as there are so many boundaries and as you say its not always easy to discipline them in the way you want to, but im sure that he would support you 100%. All children need boundaries and rules, and at the end of the day just because her mother lets her run a muck as it were doesnt mean she can be free to do it in your home. your house, your rules. i mean no one is saying you have to be an evil step mother lol but at the same time it sounds like she needs to learn that at her dads place there are different rules to her mums place. Hope this helped. Like i said this being my first baby i cant say i personally know but living with it with my sister i saw alot of what went on and im suprised my dad did such a great job without going bonkers lol

  7. #7
    kirsty_lee Guest


    lol sorry mis read replace my 'hers' with 'hims' thought it said step daughter lol

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