Help! 3.5 yr old WILL NOT listen!

Meghan - posted on 03/22/2014 ( 3 moms have responded )

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I have a 3.5 yr old biological son AND a 3.5 yr old step son. They are 11 days apart. We have been in each others lives for 1.5 yrs now. We (my husband and I) raised our boys very differently before we met. Him- passive/allowing and little to no discipline. Me- strict and set rules (loving but firm style). My son listens to both of us (with occasional tantrum as to be expected) whereas my stepson mostly doesn't listen at all. He doesn't take his dad seriously when hes told to do something and he'll do what I say, but only if I'm firm/intimidating, and only if Im near by. My husband is taking a very active role in trying to get him to listen and follow rules but even his "best buddy" daddy cant get him to LISTEN.
At times its like its in one ear and out the other. He knows how to respond to keep us at bay, but keeps doing what we asked/told him not too. Other times its complete ignoring, and the most infuriating one is when hes purposefully being defiant (ie. looking directly at us with a smirk, while doing the thing we said not too). We have tried positive reinforcement, punishment, taking toys away, time out, etc. Nothing connects with him! Hes upset for a second then back to whatever he wants with no regard. All the while we have a newborn (4 wks) and my son in the mix. The boys are the same age, but mentally/maturity wise, they seem worlds apart. We have been researching trying to find information on 3.5 yr step brothers and what we can do to help them but not getting anywhere. We are afraid he will get hurt or other things because of his lack of listening. We are at our wits end with the child!!!

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Ev - posted on 03/23/2014

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Well, a miracle answer is not going to happen though. You are going to have to continue working at it and that is what it takes. Your husband is going to have to really put his foot down now or in the next several years, that boy is going to walk all over both of you when he is a teen. Dad and Mom should have tried to get mediation to set up a behavior plan they both had to follow from the get go. My kids' dad and I divorced and getting him to agree to the same sets of rules and such was not happening. I kept to what I had done with my kids before the divorce. I had the moments of temper tantrums, talking back and so on. My daughter moved out a few years ago and is married raising two of her own. My son is 17 now and sometimes when he was younger he gave me a run for my money when he had his fits. I made him tow the mark and now he listens to me and does as I ask even at 17. So if you keep a constant routine, and constant consequences to go with the rules, it can turn around.

Meghan - posted on 03/23/2014

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There is a lot of back story that I did not include for the sake of not turning this into a book! We've sat them (the kids) down multiple times and discussed how our family is and what we expect from our family. We also understand that acting out is normal and to be expected! He was never given set rules and consequences with my husband before we got together so in his mind daddy time means he gets to do what he wants (something my husband now recognizes and is trying to change). His time is split 50/50 with his mother and us. Unfortunately there is not a lot of healthy communication between my husband and his ex so what goes on in her house is kind of an unknown. Regardless we are struggling with OUR household and his behavior here. And I know changes are not going to happen over night, but this has been an issue we cant get control of for about a year now. We arent looking for a miracle answer, just some advice on getting him to listen even a little! Thanks

Ev - posted on 03/23/2014

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Did you and your husband stop to discuss the rules and consequences of the kids in the house before you got married and blended the families? You have to also realize that if this boy's mother is still in the picture (you never mentioned this) he may be acting out more so because there is a new woman in the family so to speak. You also have only been together for 1.5 years and you can not expect changes to occur over night. His world has changed a lot since his parents are not around together anymore the same for your son who seems to be taking it in stride. This boy though might be resisting because you are not mom and he does not like this new family set up. You do not know what goes on in his mind and he can not tell you because he still lacks a lot of words to be able to tell you what he thinks or feels so he is acting out. If he was this way before you got with his dad, then its a parenting skill that dad lacks or did not use. You both need to sit down and talk about this and get it straight before the boys get older and then both are acting this way.

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