What to do when all discipline techniques fail?

Kellie - posted on 06/09/2012 ( 7 moms have responded )

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My nearly 8 yr old son has always kept us on our toes with discipline techniques. Nothing ever works for long. Most techniques last 3 weeks tops. Then it's like he's immune. Punishments make him laugh. Rewards bore him. If you take away a favorite toy, he just moves on to another toy without making a fuss over the lost one. If you offer a special treat as a reward for a week well done, he loses interest in that treat after about 3 times. (Treats are special outings, toys, or a little bit of candy, staying up a little later on the weekend...etc.) Even if he picks the treat, he starts to say, "I don't care what I get."
Punishments like not getting to do something he was looking forward to just make him shrug and actually say, "I don't care." He doesn't say it in a disrespectful tone, more like stating a fact. No real voice inflection.
Recently at school, he had a particularly bad day. He had missed recess because of some behavior in the classroom, and when I asked him how that made him feel, he said, "It was OK. At least I wasn't doing work." (The school is set up that there isn't anywhere else for him to go but with his age group.)
A few days ago, I asked him (when there wasn't a current behavior issue going on) what he thought we should do about inappropriate behavior. He told me he couldn't think of anything because he didn't care about much.
I don't know what to do. This actually scares me to death. I could use some advice!!

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Michelle - posted on 06/09/2012

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I would take him in to see a psycologist just to see what is going on in his little brain as the psychologist might be able to help you figure out what your next step is.

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Kellie - posted on 11/16/2012

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I never thought I'd say our difficult finances would be a good thing but in this case, based on your comment, they are. Our general bills (rent, utilities, medical, gas, food) are the most important. We don't get to take vacations and find cheap fun things to take him to in town. We attend church regularly. And after 15 yrs of marriage we are more in love than ever. He has a stable and solid home life, and acts out more at home than school. The guidance counselor says its because he feels safe and comfortable here. He's having a better year in school, but gets easily distracted and then "forgets" to not talk or other rules. Its just frustrating because nothing helps the tantrums, back talk, and demanding attitude at home. Rewards or consequences don't effect him. We work hard to display to each other how we expect him to act, and he's got such a sweet and sensitive heart. I just keep praying that God will show us what's next and that he'll be fine. I don't know what else to try. We keep doing the same things, but after a couple of years of the same things you start to wonder why you do it.

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But before we stone the child we have to look at parents behaviors. We work day and night for our toys we want. Bigger houses, clothes other STUFF. We get into relationships, have babies we should had never had. Divorces are not biblical unless for adultery WHY did you marry him or her. .

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In biblical days parents would take the child to the elders and say the child is mal behavior and then the elders of the church would stone the child. Kids become reverend really fast. Thus, even a deer does not go to a salt lick with a dead deer laying to the side with blood on the salt lick.

Kellie - posted on 06/09/2012

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You make a good point Jodi, and I realize I didn't clarify this in my post. With the exception of the money reward we tried, we keep doing the technique for several months, sometimes it's years, before trying something else. We also don't react to his non-caring until he's in bed and we are sure he's asleep. Just because he doesn't care doesn't mean we just give up on it. But after a year of using the same technique with the same result, for 8 years now, we are running out of age-appropriate ideas.
Not to mention how scary it is that he truly doesn't care.

Neva - posted on 06/09/2012

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Consistency is the key. You have to find one method and stick to it no matter if he says he doesn't care or laughs or whatever. The consequence should be immediate and fit the behavior. He sounds very bright and has learned that he can manipulate you by waiting 3 weeks or so. You might want to work with his teacher and set up a consequence that if he is acting out in school and has to miss recess, then he needs to do make-up work during that time. If a toy is taken away and he can just go to another one, maybe all toys need to be taken away. You need to stay in control even if he acts like he doesn't care. You explain that his behavior is unacceptable and whether he cares or not, you do and there will be a consequence and then stick to it.

Jodi - posted on 06/09/2012

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Is it possible that pretending not to care is working for him? Three weeks is not really long enough to get consistency in a disciplinary technique, but every time he tells you he doesn't care, you stop doing it. Put that in perspective and have a think about whether this might be the problem.

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