Raising a Preteen

It seems like everyday there are new issues in my house. My stepson is 11 - will be twelve on Feb. 17 - and it's like he's going on 18... He's got the worst attitude, and I don't know how to help him. We've been dealing with the attitude for a few years now, and it's not just that anymore, it's full out disobedience. We've had so many excuses as to why he acts like he does. The number one excuse - his siblings made him do it, i.e: they made him mad and he didn't care to control his actions and got himself in trouble.
Azariah (11) with Santa - Christmas 2011

Over the years we've had lots of time to try different discipline styles. It started off when he was about 6-7 and he would get spankings from daddy. Then we started taking things away - his DS, the household game system, going out to play with friends, etc. We finally realized that even though we were taking things away, he still wasn't acting right. First came sentences, then came paragraphs, that had to be copied so many times. We thought, maybe if we have him repeating something so much he will remember it and he will DO it, but that didn't work either. At one point, we tried having him walk stairs - a good exercise, and it made him miserable - starting at intervals of fifty, and going up twenty-five if he was bad during it.

We've talked and talked and talked..... It's always the same thing. He doesn't like having siblings, he wants to be an only child. "Hunny, you haven't been an only child for over five years now, there's really not much we can do about that." Well, then, I want to go live with my mom. "Sorry, that's not really an option." ... This is one of the conversations we've had many times. I'd love to go into why it's not an option, but doing so on the internet isn't really a good thing to do.

Last night we had more issues. Right now, the three boys share a room. We want to change this, but won't be able to until we buy a house - we would put a room in the basement, but there are no egress windows.  We had to bring one of the twins downstairs so that they were separated for bed time - they were all talking and wouldn't calm down, and Zarek (5) was running around the room, so he came down to the living room to lay down. That left Malaki (5) and Azariah. Not a minute after we had Z come downstairs, M & A were up there giggling. We had the come down and we talked to them. Immediately, they were giggling again.We had them come downstairs a second time and asked why there were acting up again - Azariah said it was because he sneezed and slobber went everywhere and he couldn't not giggle. I asked why they were still talking after that, he didn't answer.

We sent Malaki back up to bed and told him that we weren't going to have anymore issues with him or he would get a spanking. We had a nice, long discussion (and I say nice very sarcastically because it was a horrible conversation) about how and why he acts the way he does - how he wasn't being a very responsible brother by doing things to get them in trouble at bed time. We talked about how privileged he was this weekend to get to go out of town with a friend - for the first time ever! We told him that we didn't have to let him do things like that, and that if his bad attitude and bad actions kept happening, he wouldn't be doing things like that anymore - but we did make sure to say we want him to be able to do fun things.

This is when he said Well I don't think I should do anything good when bad things are always happening. We asked what the bad things are, and he said not being able to do things, getting the Wii taken away, and just getting in trouble. So we reiterated that he was saying that he shouldn't do anything good if bad things happen when he gets in trouble.  He said "Yeah, why would I do anything good if I just keep getting in trouble? I'm supposed to get good things, you're supposed to buy me things, if I'm good." Both Corey & I were shocked - we didn't know what to say. We knew that his mom & grandma were buy your love type of people, but we didn't realize that he really thought that he should only be good if he is sure he's going to get something in return. Daddy attempted to explain that it's not that way for most kids. Most kids are good because they know that it's the right thing to do and that they don't want to get in trouble for doing the wrong thing. I explained that good things come in more forms than just getting things bought for him - every time we let him stay up late, cook a specific meal for him because he requested it, let him cook a meal because he's been good and he asks for it, or anything else good that he gets to do - those are ALL forms of something good happening because he was good.

So for now, he gets to go to bed at 8:30 instead of 10. Daddy told him he could earn back the time by being good. He told him that he would have to be Mary Poppins, but that he could do it if he really tried. I also suggested to Corey last night (after Azariah was finally sent to bed), that we send him to a youth group on Wednesdays since he's not with us for church on Sunday. I'm not sure if he'll do it, but I think I'm going to start looking for a good youth group in our area - our church doesn't have one on Wednesdays. I'm just so exhausted. I never thought it would be this hard to raise a boy - and I've got two more to get through who will hit this age at the same time. I don't have anymore ideas. I'm totally open to suggestions - so if you have any, PLEASE FEEL FREE TO GIVE THEM TO ME!

1 comment:

  1. Check out Life church youth group (our church). I think he would get a lot out of it, and from learning about topics like respect and honoring your parents from people Other than his Mom and Pop. You guys are doing a great job, keep at it and don't give up! Remind Azariah that by guiding his footsteps and setting boundaries, you are pushing him to be a better man and have a better life. He might not act like he understands, but I bet that will resonate with part of him.

    It's gotta be hard to be the only half-sibling. Maybe he just needs to be reminded that he is an equally important member of the family
    = )

    That's my "two cents," have a good one!!

    -oh yeah, It's Mindy Lee!