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Questions about discipline (is time out ok?)

SusieCue's picture

So SD10 had been making a habit out of calling home sick on certain days. On Halloween, she called home sick and was one degree higher than average body temp (she had just been running around at recess) so they said she needed to be picked up. As soon as I picked her up and got her into the car, she started bopping around asking when we were going to go trick-or-treating. I told her that since she was "sick" there would be no trick-or-treating. She then proceeded to tell me that she wasn't sick, she had just wanted to leave school because she didn't feel like sitting in class after playing so hard at recess. I explained that's not how it works and if she continues to lie about being sick, we won't believe her when she really is. 

She continued to lie about being sick, though. About once a week or so we'd get a call from the nurse saying she was in the nurse's office and doesn't have a fever but says she's sick. We would tell them to tell her to stick it out and if she still doesn't feel good when she gets home, she can lay down then. Well, by the time she would get home she'd be running around again and acting fine. We spoke with the nurse and the principal and told them we were going through this with her. We had already asked SD10 If she was faking sick because of an issue at school (bullying, etc) and she said no, she just didn't want you do PE or be in school so she pretended like she was sick so she could come home. We once again explained the whole "crying wolf" thing to her and told her that the more she does this the harder it will be for us to tell if she's really sick in the future. 

Fast forward to this past week. SD10 is fine all weekend but on Monday, after recess, she goes to the nurse saying she feels sick. The nurse takes her temperature and sees that she's at about 99/100 degrees but otherwise she is acting fine. So before she calls us she gets the counselor and has the counselor ask her if anything is going on. SD10 proceeds to tell the counselor that she had trouble sleeping the night before because SD15 had gotten put in the corner and was crying (dramatically) and her sister's crying kept her up. 

Let me stop here and explain why her sister got put in the corner. SD15 is very manipulative and controls her sister. SD10 has a bed time of 8:00p, SD15 at 8:30p. This is to prevent them from going into each other's rooms and staying up all night talking. At 7:45p, SD10 was instructed to start brushing her teeth, etc for bed. SD15 was told to go find a book to read or some other quiet activity to do on her own so that SD10 could get to bed  At 8:00p, we went to say goodnight to SD10 and found her and SD15 in SD10's room painting their nails. I told SD15 that she needed to get out of her sister's room and SD10 needed to go to bed. SD15 gave us attitude and DH put her in the corner as a time out. While in the corner,  SD15 wailed dramatically at the top of her lungs. She was told several times to keep it down because her sister was trying to sleep. She continued to cry loudly.

So back to what SD10 told her counselor. She said that her sister got in trouble and had to be "on the wall" which is what we call the "corner" or "time out" area because it isn't really so much a corner as it is an area of the house next to the living room, if that makes sense. She said her sister was crying and that kept her up, so now she doesn't feel good and wants to go home sick.

The counselor called CPS and they are coming to visit us on Monday. I'm not worried because neither me nor my DH has done anything wrong. The kids have plenty of food, a nice home, love/care, and everything they need. My question though, is: is putting your kids on the corner or time out still ok to do? I don't see anything wrong with it. It's not like we deny them anything in the corner, if they have to use the bathroom or get water, they can. We've never put either of them in the corner during a meal time or denied them dinner as a punishment. DH and I are having a hard time wrapping our heads around this.

Also, SD10 mentioned that SD15 not only woke her up that night to tell her that she was put in the corner "because of her" but also guilt tripped her in the morning before school. SD15 has a past of manipulating her sister and getting her to do her bidding, so I can't help but suspect that SD15 had some influence on what SD10 said to the counselor. 

I'm at the point where if putting a disrespectful, insubordinate teenager in the corner is grounds to get them taken away, so be it. What other methods are we supposed to be using to ensure that SD15 doesn't become out of control?

SteppedOut's picture

For me, this would be a deal breaker. The minute conniving kids start causing me legal problems, I would NOPE the heck out. 

For what it's worth, I freaking hope the corner is still ok. Growing up, we had to kneel in the corner. It is an effective punishment because it is boring and kids lothe boring. 

BethAnne's picture

TBH standing in the corner sounds like something that you would do with a much younger child than a 15 year old. So I could see them saying that it might not be age appropriate or the most effective consequence, but the way that you are doing it does not sound abusive. 

SusieCue's picture

It doesn't seem age appropriate but her behavior at home isn't, either. Can anyone suggest so.e appropriate consequences for a 15 year old? We've sent her to her room, taken tech privileges away and had her write about why she did what she did. We've also told her that her behavior is going to prevent her from being able to take driver's ed or get a car when the time comes. Nothing seems to work.

SusieCue's picture

Honestly, we felt like we tried everything else, from sending her to her room, to having her write an essay about why what she did was wrong, to giving her extra chores. Putting her in time out for yelling and throwing a fit was the only thing we could think of because she acts like she's about ten. She does pretty well in school as far as grades go, but often gets in trouble for disrespectful behavior or fighting. Last year, she stayed after school for a program and ended up getting into a fight with another student (a fight that she started) and flipped off and cussed out the principal when he tried to meditate the situation. Her at home behavior is that if someone much younger. She's 15, but acts about ten. Her sister is 10 but acts like she's about five.

SusieCue's picture

But I want to be there for my husband. He's doing the best he can, the kids just don't listen and they are sneaky and manipulative. How can I opt out without denying him support right now? What can I do? 

BethAnne's picture

Move out and be a phone call away if he wants some moral support. When the kids are out of the home consider moving back in together. 

notsurehowtodeal's picture

You need to find her "currency" - what matters most to her? Then take that away. Or what does she dislike doing the most - make her do that. Standing in the corner seems an odd punishment for a 15 year old. 8:30 seems like an early bedtime for a 15 year old as well. I realize she acts immature, but treating her like she is younger might be contributing to the problem.

How much time does DH spend with the girls? You mentioned in another post that they were allowed to watch a movie together at night and they abused the privilege. Did DH ever watch with them? Just throwing it out there, how much does he actively parent the girls? Maybe part of the problem with SD15 influencing SD10 so much is that they spend so much time together. Try and get them apart and spending time with friends, or one-on-one time with DH.

SusieCue's picture

DH works nights during the week. He has dinner with us, and leaves for work at about 7:00p. I would normally agree that 8:30p is an early bed time for a 15 year old, but she tries to go to bed at about 6:30p to 7:00p usually. DH and I have always thought it was weird, especially because after she claims to go to bed, we usually find her in SD10's room. So this is why we implemented this bed time. She complained even that 8:30p is TOO LATE for her to go to bed. I honestly think it has something to do with the fact that she uses this time to be able to talk secretly to SD10 and now that we don't let her go to bed at the same time as SD10, SD10 is sleeping already and she doesn't have that time to manipulate her sister. 

I've felt for awhile that SD15's behavior towards her sister is a weird kind of "grooming". Maybe not in an "inappropriate" way but in a control kind of way. There are lot of "our secret" things that go on between them and we've tried to separate them so that they aren't so enmeshed with each other. For instance, whenever SD10 is in the bathroom, SD15 tries to find some reason to be in the bathroom as well. We got to the point where we have to tell SD15 "SD10 is using the bathroom/taking a shower. If you need anything, you need to get it done now so that you don't feel like you have to go in there when she is in there."

DH spends a lot of time with them at home, teaching them how to change oil in a car, how to change a flat tire, or just playing board games with them. We also play games and watch movies as a family quite often, and do things together as a family. We are genuinely trying so hard and I get nervous because it really feels like we are dealing with sociopaths, here. The only time we can ever get any emotion out of either of them is when they are feeling bad for themselves because they got in trouble. 

As for her currency... That is a work in progress. She is currently grounded, no phone, no TV, no internet. No staying the night at friend's houses. No dessert. As it stands now, she will not be enrolled in driver's ed, and she won't be getting a car at 16. We don't know what else to take away from her. She does like to read, so I can suggest to DH that her books be taken. Other than that, the only other punishment I can think of is outdoor work (which she hates) but if CPS is coming because we put her in "time out", I can only imagine what they would say if we made her pick up dog poop in the side yard or pull weeds.

Mandy45's picture

For a 15 year old who seems rather smart. Is able to manipulate everyone. Sitting in a corner not going to do much. Maybe increase her chores or stop her from doing activities she likes. Non punishment wise maybe make her bed time a bit later. As long as she stays in her room and doesnt annoy SD10 theres 5 years difference between these girls. You cant treat them like there both the same age. Let her be a teenager do teenage things like hang with friends and things. Maybe this is why she got it in for her younger sister. 

SusieCue's picture

She was able to do "normal teen" stuff. She got that privilege taken away when she got into a physical altercation at an after school program with a classmate and cussed out/flipped off the principal when we tried to meditate the situation, then came home and lied about it so DH and I called the school to give the principal a piece of our minds and he showed us the footage and made us feel stupid. We had to take her phone when we discovered she was showing her sister inappropriate things/talking to guys that were older than her. Then the school bus depot called us to report that they believed she was "under the influence" of something as she was stumbling and swaying when she got off the bus. Of course when we asked her about it, she didn't know why they would say that.

At home, however... She acts like a ten year old. Even before she was put in the corner. She throws tantrums, open-mouth wails with crocodile tears and fist pounding/foot stomping. She still plays with her sister's dolls, even when her sister isn't there. It's very odd. We've tried to treat her like the teenager that she is and every time we do, she puts herself at adult status, tries to parent SD10, and starts up with inappropriate mini-wife behavior. It's like she either wants to act like an adult or a young child, not her age. We've told her: you don't need to parent your sister. You don't need to be an adult. Just be a teenager. You don't need to act any younger for attention, or any older. 

tog redux's picture

LOL, I can't believe CPS took that call.

Time-outs are fine for small children, but they should be brief. Putting a 15-year-old in the corner is so NOT age-appropriate, I imagine they thought it was for hours or something like that - which would be abusive.

What is SD15 doing, other than keeping SD10 awake at night that requires so much discipline? If you have already taken away everything she holds dear, then she has no incentive to behave. Can she earn it back?



SusieCue's picture

So some of the things that she is doing that we can't seem to get her to understand are not ok are stealing from family members (I am afraid to take her to the store because I think she's going to take something if she asks for it and I don't agree to buy it for her), being disrespectful to not only her dad and I, but authority figures at school (she started a fight with a girl at a school event because the girl was told that she couldn't let anyone in the side door and to go around to the front entrance. SD15 physically attacked the girl at the door and then proceeded to cuss out the principal and flip him off when he tried to meditate), the school bus depot called us and reported that she seemed to be under the influence of something when getting off the bus (she claims to not know what they are talking about), she will hurt her sister and then convince her that she deserved it (for example, she told her sister to put her arm in a certain spot and then pinched it in a closet door. When we asked her sister what happened, she said, "Sissy pinched my arm but it was my fault because I put it in the way." Even though her sister TOLD her to put it there), she's also gotten in trouble at school for wearing a zip up hoodie with only a bra underneath and unzipping the hoodie down to her bellybutton (they called home and gave her a dress code warning the first time, but caught her numerous times after. She told them she had no shirts but she has more clothes than I do)... The list goes on. Any time SD15 is spoken to about her behavior she throws an all out tantrum. She also lies about everything to the point that we feel like she doesn't even realize she's doing it.

SusieCue's picture

She actually has earned things like her phone back several times, but each time we catch her doing something inappropriate with it, or she uses it to try to meet up with random guys and we don't know if these guys are grown men or who they even are because she downloads random meet up chat apps. 

We have her in therapy but it's starting to feel like even the therapists are at a loss because nothing seems to be helping.

She earned back the privilege of spending weekends with friends only to lose it again when we discovered that she snuck out of her friend's house to meet up with a boy and her friend and friend's family freaked out when she wasn't there in the AM.

Mandy45's picture

Older sd will try and parent the younger one. Theres 9 years difference betwen my sds. The older one has always acted like she the mother. Stuck her nose in we always have to tell her to mind her own business. Maybe it because BM not there she thinks she has to step in look after her sister may think she helping but as you know she not. My youngest SD 17 ive raised her since she been 5 she a hand full maybe not as mischievous as your sd but she doesn’t take well to punishment. I could go into her room now take every object she owns throw it out in the street band her from ever doing anything again. She will not care. It would be our fault because she bored she has to sleep on the floor and hasnt got a blanket. If she gets sick and dies it all gonna be our fault. She wont think oh i done something wrong i need to reedem myself and not do that again. So i can get this this and this back. So i can understand your frustrations. If only they used that all the determination to do good they get a long way. 15 a strange age they want to be grown but want all the benfits they had as a kid too. Some kids are just hard work. So I sympathise with you. 

lieutenant_dad's picture

Um, everything you have said sounds like grooming. It gives me creepy Michael Jackson vibes - the "Peter Pan Syndrome" for molestation.

If SD15 has shown SD10 inappropriate things, and tries to be with her in the bathroom, and tries to monopolize their free time for "secrets", then it would not surprise me if she has molested SD10 and has convinced SD10 that it's okay.

Both girls need counseling. SD10 may not consciously understand that what is happening to her is wrong. That's why she is feeling sick but doesn't know why - something is telling her that what is happening isn't okay, but she doesn't know why.

Seriously. Have SD10 checked out by her doctor. Take her to counseling. Separate those girls completely. No normal 15 year old wants to spend that much time with her 10 year old sister.

SusieCue's picture

We've had them in therapy and counseling for years. We have them separate and someone is home with them at all times, mostly because we are afraid they will get in to trouble or get hurt if we are not here. The inappropriate stuff she was showing her were things with swear words and stupid YouTube videos with people doing stupid things but yes, I agree that her behavior is weird, but it's a controlling, "I want you to do my chores or I'll be mad at you" kind of behavior, not anything sexual. 

When they first came to live with us they were both taken to a Dr and checked out/asked questions and their therapists have also asked them and so far neither of them has said anything about abuse but we keep communication open with them and I've had many one on one talks with SD10 about what is right and wrong and I don't get the feeling that her sister has hurt her in that way.

Rags's picture

I believe, that for your toxic step spawn, that you and DH have landed on the magic consequence.  I would keep SD-15 standing on the wall until she turns 18 if she continues her crap.  Make sure to put up web cams and recorders so you can capture her manipulative crap and show that there is no abuse..

If SD-10 pulls her fake sick crap then she can spend all day and all night on the wall if she is not actually sick.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

CPS will laugh at this crap IMHO.   So, keep it up, document, document, document and keep stay the course on parenting these two manipulative toxic crotch droppings.


Our magic consequence we called "The Tower".  At that time we had a 6br house for the three of us (DW, SS and myself).  We kept one of the bedrooms empty except for an antique school writing desk, one of those with a wrap around half top.  It was all wood, no padded seat.

When SS pulled his behavioral crap (Lying, doing homework then not turning it in, not doing his school work at all, etc, etc, etc...) he went in "The Tower" to write countless thousands of sentences all in perfect handwriting, perfect punctuation at the pace of ~120 to ~180 per hour until he cleared the quota assigned for offense.   

Since he was jerking around when he was supposed to be working, he could work when he was supposed to be enjoying himself.  In shore order we learned that having to stay home all weekend and every evening so he could write sentences was as much punishment for us as it was for him so we modified the model to keep him writing sentences during his free time when we were not out doing things as a family.

He hated it.

E.g - "I will do my homework and turn it in on time while telling the truth about any question my parents may ask or I will sit here and write sentences until the message sinks in."

10,000,000 times.  (We adjusted the number assigned to fit the infraction and to make it age appropriate to the Skid's age at the time).  One misspeling, one punction error or one missed hourly quota resets the entire 10,000 assigned sentences.

SS-27 has the most amazing hand writing.  So much so that his unit leaders have him fill out any hand written forms that are required from them.  So, his punishment from his youth is haunting him as an adult.  Wink, wink.

Long, live the wall!

I would have your attorney there when CPS shows up.  Just to keep them in line and things between the lines.

Good luck.