How can I enforce table manners with my soon-to-be step son?

Jessica - posted on 04/18/2009 ( 15 moms have responded )

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Bradley is 6, about to be 7 in may, and my daughter is 2 (just turned in March), and she behaves better at the dinner table than he does. It's a tough situation since he doesn't live with us, and his mother obviously doesn't care much about the same things that I do. I kindly ask him to chew with his mouth shut, and he pouts, then his father says "it's not that important!" He can't sit with us with out ask why we can't sit in the living room, or why he can't have his DS at the table.



My fiance and I are butting heads with a lot of the discipline issues, since my fiance doesn't want to seem like the bad guy being that we only get Bradley every other weekend. But I can't just let all of the rules I set go out the window when he's here. It's not just the food thing either. He is constantly playing video games and doesn't want to do much else...My fiance agrees that it's not healthy, and we try to set time limits, but he cries the whole time he isn't playing...It's horrible, and I can't say anything at all.



I have tried to have my fiance talk to Bradley's mother about it all, but he is worried of what she'll TRY and do if she hears something she doesn't like. I would try to talk to her, but she is VERY immature and won't even come outside when we pick up Bradley since I'm in the car! She even told Bradley that he isn't allowed to talk about me or his little sister when he's at home.



I'm sorry for venting, but I don't know where else to go since everyone I talk to says that I should just "let it ride." But I can't just do that because I feel he NEEDS some enforcement from somewhere since it really doesn't seem like he's getting it at home. Does anyone have any ideas how I can deal with any of this without feelings getting hurt? I'm am at such a loss as of what to do. I just know that my daughter is very impressionable right now, and wants to do everything that her brother does, and I DO NOT need her picking up on any of his bad habits.

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15 Comments

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Ima - posted on 08/21/2013

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Try video taping the child and graphically point out their offensive behaviour. Look for rapid improvement after viewing and if no visible improvement occurs after two or three viewings tell them the consequences for not complying with requests to adjust their behaviour that they will receive corporal punishment for failing to comply.
This will do the trick and they will comply after a few sessions of thorough CP.
You will save the day for them abruptly and they will be less ostracized in their future.

Carly - posted on 05/16/2009

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What I have tried with my daughter and my nefew when he visits is I tell them we are trying to teach the baby good manners and how to be a good friend, and he learns by all of us showing him these things. So far it has worked really well for things like snatching and table manners. Nothing will work though if you and dad are not unified.

Jessica - posted on 05/16/2009

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Shanta, that's exactly what's going on here also. His mother tells him that he doesn't have to listen to me, that I'm not his mother so just ignore me....And I'm very adamant on having a routine. I feel that's why daughter is so well behaved. I've asked my
fiance to talk to Bradley's mom to see what his routine is at home so I can try to do somethings similar here to wean him into ours. But she won't even help with that. I wish she would realize that I'm not asking for me, or anyone other than her son.

And Marcia, it's funny you metion the whole acting like he does at the table, because it's something that we've tried once! lol It REALLY didn't work. Yes, he laughed, but then he got super goofy and took his unsightly 'manners' to the next nasty level. (letting food fall from his mouth, burping on purpose....it was horrible) So I'm assuming his maturity level isn't at the level where the method you mentioned would work!

I'm just going to be patient and pray that things will smooth out sooner rather than later. My number one worry was that my daughter would pick up on his bad behavior, but the chart helps make her stay my sweet little girl while he's here. He'll come along eventually. And since school is out soon, the visitation schedule will change and we'll get him every other week. I think this will help him adjust better since he'll be with us longer. And maybe he'll take some good manners home to his mommy!! lol

Shanta - posted on 05/11/2009

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I'm a step mother to 3 children ages 6,7 and 9. They came to live with me 4 yeares ago and they had no manners at all. MAke sure you have the same rountine every time he is with you. Explain to him that this house has different rules and he needs to follow them when hes with you'll. I have a soon to be 3 years old and she has pefect table manners. They all blessed their food everythime no matter where we are at and the say thank you.

After doing it with him over and over again he will get the hang of it. If he acts up takes something away from him that he likes. I'm the bad guy in my household too. My husband never wants to discipline and keeps it all up to me. (thats a blower) but you gotta do wat you gotta do to gain respect. My step-kids now love me too death, more than their mom or dad. As they get older they will understand and respect u more for the things you have done.
I went throught the same thing with my step kids mom. I was all kinds of names, they were told not to listen to me not to talk to me and too this day when the kids visit their mom she doesnt come outside either. Have faith and be strong. No matter how you deal with it somones feelings are going to get hurt, either U or THEM.

Marcia - posted on 05/11/2009

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I'm really sorry for your situation, that sucks...especially when everything was going so well. That is so neat that your daughter is loving the chart so much though :)

I'm not too sure if this would work as I only have one son and he is just one....Your daughter would kind of have to be put to bed and I do not know if your stepson would get the sarcasm of the situation, but what if you and your husband started to act like your stepson (like when he was trying to go to bed or eating at the table) and then when he catches on then you guys can laugh about how silly you guys were behaving and have a really serious talk about things and maybe get him involved in some good solutions...make him kind of feel like an adult. Again though my idea may not be applicable to your situation as I do not know your stepson and these tactics could really be useless if he isn't mature enough to handle them.

Good luck with everything!

Sarah - posted on 05/11/2009

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well it did work for a bit. Just a shame his mum had to spoil it all for you. Maybe you ould keep trying at it as I'm sure the ex wont be able to continually buy those things for him. Or get sick of it. On the plus side, you're daughter enjoys it and your fiance is now helping out. hope things get better for you

Jessica - posted on 05/04/2009

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So here's the update on this past weekend with Bradley....He was excited when I showed him the chart and told him about the new 'game' we were going to play when he was here. And he was even more excited when I told him that once he fills up a line on the chart with stickers, he'd be able to pick a toy at the store that he's been wanting. He said that he'd want to buy a pokemon (no clue how to spell it lol) board game, which I thought would be great since it would get him away from the stupid video games! I told him he'd have to work hard and he couldn't wait to help set the table for dinner to get his first star. He sat and ate as much as he could on his plate and was doing very well helping clean up and everything.....then it got to bedtime, and he called his mom to say goodnight just as he always does to help bedtime go a little easier. Well, he was telling her about the new 'game' we were doing here and that he was trying to get as many stars as he could so he would be able to get his board game....she told him not to worry about the chart, that she'd buy him the game once he got back home with her!!

Out went ALL of the good behavior....everything! When I would try to remind him about the stars, he would just say, 'My mommy will just get me my surprise at the end!' And every time my fiance would try to correct him he'd throw a royal fit and we ended up having to put him in his room for time outs pretty much the whole time he was here. My fiance also took his gameboy from him the minute he mouthed off and he didn't get it back until he was in his moms house.

My fiance talked to Bradley's mom about it when we dropped him off, and she just said that he shouldn't have to work for something he wants at his age!!! I guess it's just going to be a tough road for a while since we're dealing with someone so immature. My fiance gave some rules for the next time he comes.... Rule 1 being he's not allowed to bring his gameboy anymore!

I'm just upset that everything would have went great if it wasn't for his mother interfering. But now that my fiance and I have met in the middle with the discipline thing, I'm not as stressed out about him being here. He can throw all the fits he wants and he'll just end up in his room until he decides to cooperate! I'm willing to wait it out. I'm sure he'll eventually give in. Wish me luck!

PS The chart thing is working great for my 2 year old! She helped before, but now she wants to help with EVERYTHING! lol And loves putting the special Mickey stickers on her princess chart when she does something helpful. And at the end of the week she picks a little surprise from the basket I put together!

Maria Cristina - posted on 04/25/2009

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you can try everything in the world to change his behavior but it's not really gonna help if your fiance isn't on the same page as you. you will try to enforce the discipline but then five seconds later your fiance will undermine your authority. that will then damage the relationship you have with your fiance. you should talk with your fiance before bradley comes over and express your concerns and then come to some agreement. the right mixture of love and discipline will lend itself to a better relationship between father and son as opposed to the excessively permissive relationship bradley and his mother share.
i work at a restaurant and i hate when families come in and the kids are too busy playing on their game systems to decide what they want to eat. mealtimes are a great opportunity to bond as a family. studies have shown that they have lots of other benefits like improving school performance, preventing drug and alcohol use, enabling kids to feel comfortable talking with their parents, etc.
stay strong and maintain your authority.

Erica - posted on 04/22/2009

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I really think you need to stick to the disciplining and that eventually he will give in and start listening. I think your fiance really should do some disciplining to because he is the reason that child isn't listening to you he doesn't have to if his dad isn't telling him to. Keep up the disciplinig. Good Luck!

Jessica - posted on 04/19/2009

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Yea, it's really frustrating! Especially when your significant other is going against you. But I printed up some charts on poster paper this morning. And I will be laying down the rules the next time he's over. I even picked up some cheap things at the dollar store and threw them into a basket for him to pick something small at the end of his visits to build up to what ever he decides his 'grand prize' is in the end...

I'm just going to try to make it a little game to try and move things along a little faster. Hopefully in the future, it will just become a habit when he's here to do what he should (minus the whole surprise in the end)....the surprise should just be not getting yelled at! lol j/k

Samantha - posted on 04/19/2009

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i have similar problems when my brother in law comes to visit. he's only ten and my boys copy everything he does and he doesn't listen to anything i tell him. eg my rule has always been that if u don't finish your dinner u don't get dessert but he'll eat a couple of bites and then whinge till my husband caves and gives him dessert anyway. how can i then expect a 2 and 3 yr old to eat all their dinner. i've tried giving him the same dinner portions as the younger kids but he won't even finish that. also as i don't allow the kids soft drink i expect him to drink juice as well but he whines for coke (i drink juice so the kids will) and my hubby gives it to him. so frustrating

my hubby thinks he shouldn't have to follow the same rules cause he's older but i think he should be setting a good example for them

Sarah - posted on 04/19/2009

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I hope it helps. As my eldest is only 2.5yrs i've not had to use anything like that yet but my neices have had something similar and their mum had some success, though can take a little while for it get to be habit with the kids. So don't expect a huge improvement to start with. But this way its up to him if he gets something or not

Jessica - posted on 04/18/2009

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That's a really good idea! I'll set it up and start it on his next visit. Thanks sooo much, it's a huge help!

Sarah - posted on 04/18/2009

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I don't know how to help you since I can't even imagine the situation that you're in. I do how ever believe that you are right about trying to enforce the discipline. It is your house after all and he should have to try and respect and abide by your rules.



Only thing I could possibly suggest is a rewards system. Ask him if there is anything that he really wants that his mum can't or won't get for him. if there is and it isn't too out landish set up a rewards card for him, say over 4 visits or more depending on what it is. ie. new game for ds say 4 visits and gets it on 5th, or a new shirt say 2 visits and gets it on 3rd. include manners at the table, the amount of time spend outside playing (anything other than video games) maybe even throw in a few chores like making his bed and just clearing the table. Each time he does something put a tick on a chart towards his rewards. when he doesn't he either doesn't get one or loses one depending on how he reacts.

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