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Just a proud SM

ladybug3's picture

DH has actually started asking me for parenting advice with SS. He was raised in a very abusive household (when he wasn't living on the street), so healthy parenting is not easy for him. He is far from abusive with SS, but he does not know how to effectively discipline. Last night he had a breakdown because he said SS is scared of him, which isn't entirely true. SS is a very strange child imo, and being his SM I think I can be unbiased in saying that. In a sense SS is scared of everyone. I don't know how he is treated at BM's house with her and her family, or how he's been treated by others in the past, or it may just have something to do with how he is as a person. Either way, DH has started blaming himself and saying that if he was a better father SS wouldn't be scared. 

So we had a good heart-to-heart last night and I told him exactly how he should be handling SS. No more threatening him with a punishment that you won't follow through on. No more raising your tone to get him to listen. No more expecting him to be older and more mature than he is. I said everything I've been wanting to say for 2+ years, and DH actually listened. 

DH's approach has always been to get SS to behave with a negative consequence. We learned recently that SS responds amazingly to positive reinforcement. We had a hell of a time keeping his fingers out of his mouth, and with the recent COVID-19 bullsheet we decided we had to try a different approach. Before we were flicking his hand, putting him in timeout, turning the tv off (if he was watching it), etc. So instead of those punishments, which clearly weren't working, we set up a calendar system where if he could keep his fingers out of his mouth for 10 days straight he could get a new toy. Do you know he didn't mess up one time? He's now going on over 20 days without his fingers in his mouth and he's so proud of himself.

SS also has a problem with losing games. His cousin was over about a week ago and they were racing in the yard. Sometimes SS would win and sometimes his cousin would win, but every single time SS lost he would whine about how he never won. So I started telling both of them to high-five the other, regardless of who won. And I gave each one of them a high-five, one for the winner and one for the loser who tried their best. The next time his cousin came over SS actually initiated the high-fives when he lost without me telling him to. 

So I'm literally just here to gush that SS is learning and the sh*t we're doing is WORKING. And, ya know, that DH finally realized he couldn't keep parenting SS the same way he always had. 


hereiam's picture

Oh, you mean, denial and doing nothing doesn't work?

Good job, ladybug3, and good for your DH for listening to you and being willing to learn and try different approaches. His son will be better off for it.

DPW's picture

That's awesome. Isn't it great when you can work as a team but let DH handle it in front of SS?

Wicked stepmo.'s picture

I highly suggest the book "Common Sense Parenting" it's about setting limits using both positive and negative consequences and it helps you learn how to teach kids social skills to correct negative behaviors.

ladybug3's picture

I'll look into it, thank you! I read No-Drama Discipline and that's where I get most of my parenting advice from lol. 

tog redux's picture

Nice job. In my experience, anxious kids like your SS respond much better to positive interventions, because negative ones just make them more anxious (and therefore less able to stop a nervous behavior).