What would you do?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Andrea Danielle 2, May 25, 2011.

  1. Andrea Danielle 2

    Andrea Danielle 2 New Member

    I need parenting advice...
    difficult child is taken care of by a very kind neighbour after school at her home. In the last few weeks we have had several issues... he stole money from her last week, he returned the money and seemed to feel terrible. Then yesterday, he stole 5 dollars from her again. Then, today he got angry with her over something very small (I haven't heard his story yet) and he put his foot up to her tv screen, she told him to stop and... he kicked the screen and broke it. Obviously we have to buy her a new one - it will be about $1000 to replace. difficult child will be home soon with his dad, he went to football right after the incident. Any suggestions on how to respond to him? I will listen to his explanation, although I can't imagine what reason he could give for this. I don't normally use consequences, I am 100% collaborative problem solving but feel that for this he needs to be punished in some way. Thinking of taking away tv for a few months (would be good anyway), and having him use his allowance to start paying us back for the cost to replace it... Thoughts??
  2. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    To me these would both be HUGE issues. We do NOT steal. Simple message - any child that does not get this or chooses to break it gets HUGE consequences. They return the money or item to the owner, apologize and give that same amount either to the owner or to a charity in the owner's name. Even just the price of a pack of gum is treated this way. Any child who steals from a store must go back, give it back, pay for it (even though they do NOT get to keep it), apologize and take ANY consequence the store chooses to impose, like pressing charges. Wiz got BLESSED that one store was a dollar store with a mgr who didn't give a hoot and the other was a mom and pop store and they just chewed him out for about an hour. He also had to pay for transportation and our time (at $10 per hour) because he stole from a store 75 miles away from our home. If the child wants to hide behind mommy and not apologize? They are taken to the nearest findable police station for a discussion with an officer and a view of the jail cells. Jess got this at the age of four - she would NOT apologize because she was scared, but the real world does NOT care. Then our local police station actually had someone in their one person cell, so we had to go back. To this very day she remembers this VIVIDLY and will even tell groups of friends who discuss shoplifting that she will turn them in in a heartbeat because she is NOT going to jail for anyone. Ever.

    I think you need to find another person to watch him - if he were coming to my home I would not watn to keep watching him after he purposely destroyed my tv and stole from me twice in a matter of weeks.I would realize that it was just not the right fit for him, that he needed something I just do not have to give him.

    At 10 he is way old enough for a punishment. He needs to be accountable for a sizeable portion of the cost of the tv. If he has savings, they go to that. He must do extra chores for as long as it takes to pay down his debt. Do not pay per hour, pay per job because otherwise he will drag each job out to many times its reasonable length. Do NOT take 100% of allowance, money earned doing chores,e tc.... Fifty percent go to paying you back and fifty percent go to him. This way he gets SOME reward and he still has some money for little things. But ANY time he asks you for something - gum, candy, a quarter for a vending machine, it must come out of HIS money. If you give him cash then he must have it with him at the time to buy the item, or he must wait and get it another time. If you do what we did, and keep a tally of how much each child has earned, then buy the item but they do NOT get it until you and he subtract it from the total of what he has earned. If he has earned nothing, then you don't buy it. IF he has not earned enough in the half that is his to spend, you do not buy it. He has to do more work and then get it, just liek the rest of us.

    It is going to be long and hard because it is a large amt of money. He sure knows how to go big when he does something, doesn't he? You also need to let the neighbor know that if she chooses to call the police that you will support HER, not your child. If you try to get your child out of this it will send a very wrong message that he can do what he wants because mommy will protect him from the cops. He needs to learn, right now, that stealing and damaging other people's property is a HUGE no-no and that consequences are going to last a very very long time if he wrecks something big.

    I am sorry that you have to deal with this. Maybe some of his punishment should be doing a chore like raking the yard or something for the neighbor - NOT for money, but to show her he is very very sorry.
  3. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I really agree with what Susie said!
  4. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Well, not sure what I'd do yet, because there is probably more to the story...

    Is this a change from his usual pattern? or just a slow-and-steady escalation over many months?

    If its a recent change, I'd take it as a MAJOR red flag that there is something going wrong... either in his relationship with the neighbor lady, OR at school. Or, it could be that because he's growing and developing, his medications might need adjustments... Either way, it would be more important to get to the bottom of the source than to "punish" - not that paying part of it back isn't a good idea, but that's not meant as punishment, its meant to be "logical consequences"...

    If its a longer-term trend, then... its more difficult to make assumptions... We've had it both ways - and in every single case, there was "something else" going on, usually at school.

    Do you have access to resources who can help you get to the bottom of it?
  5. keista

    keista New Member

    I'll second Susiestar.

    I don't have first hand experience of anything on this scale, but do know from experience that you must send a CLEAR message, and the younger your child is when they get that CLEAR message, the better chance it will stick. I had to deal with lying and stealing money from my change jar. Punishments were very harsh compared to "regular" infractions in our home, and appear to have worked. I'm also always looking for opportunities to open discussions about these topics so that the WRONGNESS stays fresh in the mind.
  6. Andrea Danielle 2

    Andrea Danielle 2 New Member

    You are all really good! Thanks Susiestar, Wipedout and Keista your advice was really good and yes, InsaneCDN (I am an insane Canadian too) there is more going on! We have recently adjusted his medication, we added Abilify and then pulled him off it because it was making him sick. It is always hard to know what is caused by the medications and what is him just being him. I will be speaking with him when he gets home shortly. He never gives us straight answers but hoping for the best. I will try to get through to him how serious this is.
  7. Your child may well be doing the best he can. If the medication mix is different or one or more medications needs adjustment (esp. as children grow and put on weight) -- or a dozen different reasons -- his brain chemistry might be so far off, he's back to where he was years ago. It's nice if you can you use the collaborative problem solving system you have with him to work out an appropriate course of action (apologize, pay for the TV, make a list of What I Can Do Instead of Kicking a Television), but he may not be able to do that too well. Replacing a TV is very big.

    I don't look at replacing the TV as a punishment. It really is the natural consequence of breaking someone else's stuff. [I hate the word "consequences" because it generally is just a code word for punishment.] Not letting him watch your TV until he has paid for whatever portion of the TV you are going to require is really a punishment. [I'd probably do that.] I doubt I would make him pay for the whole television since unless you have rich relatives handing your kid cash, he isn't going to come up with $1000 in any reasonable time frame. I ask myself, is it about the money or making sure he understands he has to pay for what he breaks? [When difficult child kicked out his window, I made him pay for the window but not the hospital bill -- I didn't think he'd understand that part too well.]

    difficult child went through a stealing phase. Yeah, I made him take the stuff back and apologize, and of course I watched him like a hawk and discreetly patted him down in the check-out line of grocery stores. He can't tell me why he did it, and he does feel bad afterward. He simply can't control 100% of his impulses yet. The space between stimulus and response is very, very small with him. Sometimes he can control himself better than other times and frankly, punishing him during the "down" cycle doesn't do anything useful. He knows what he does isn't OK. He doesn't need me to come down on him like a duck on a june bug to teach him that. What he needs to be taught are useful tools for dealing with anger and impulse issues, but that's not so easy.

    I am too tired to go back over this and make it more coherent, but I hope you see what I was after. Basically, he doesn't need to be punished to know he did something wrong. His brain may not even comprehend the magnitude of what he did and punishing him isn't going to get him there.
  8. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Welcome Andrea.
    I agree with-the others.
    Paying for the TV, whether through working it off or somehow getting a job cutting grass or whatever is the right way to go.
    Also, I would find another babysitter. I was thinking of her, and how she felt--traumatized, invaded, victimized--sheesh. Even when he gets the correct diagnosis and it "explains" why his behavior is the way it is, it does not take away from her feelings. My heart goes out to her.
    Also, your son clearly is lacking in anger management so I'd do a lot of therapy in that regard. We have done therapy for yrs, and believe me, it takes yrs. but it is worth it. I am so proud of my difficult child. No,he's not perfect. He'll be the first to admit he has problems, but he's come a long way.
    One thing he does (not so often any more) is to decrease personal space until he's got you backed into a wall. Your instinct is to either push back with-your hands or to push back with-your voice. Either way will make him light off. So we've gone over that in therapy a lot. I had to learn to calm myself (I'm claustrophobic so it was and is very hard) and say, "Remember what we talked about in Dr. R's ofce, about not pushing me into a corner? You are standing too close. I will talk to you and answer your question when you back up about 4 feet."
    Once he started doing that, I knew there was hope.
    He asked for praise, by the way, and I gave it to him. I lavished him with-praise.
    Seems strange to praise someone for NOT beating you to a pulp, lol! but that's the way these kids' minds work.
    Last edited: May 28, 2011
  9. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I agree that a change of babysitters is called for........and I do know that it is not easy to come up with after school care! In my experience difficult child's "size up" the caregiver and once they feel empowered...the party is over! Many, if not almost all of us ,have had to research alternative after school care. It is stressful and costly for the parent but I honestly don't think he should be given a chance to "make up" with the neighbor lady. He's already identified her as not having the power.

    Like the others agree that there has to be financial consequences as well. It doesn't have to be anything equivalent to "tit for tat"...it just has to have an impact. I don't mean to sound like an alarmist but really in recent years people call the cops on small children far more quickly than they used to. Very often law enforcement does not give alot of flexibility due to age or due to diagnosis. There have been chilling examples in my community.

    My only other suggestion is to keep a journal of his behaviors and his medications. It will help you identify patterns and it also will document that he has issues should the system get involved. Last of all I am sending you a big caring hug. difficult child's are so stressful and can be heartbreaking. You're doing a great job of reaching out for help and you have a found a caring group of parents who will support you all the way. DDD
  10. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful


    I have to agree with the change the sitter. It's probably going to escalate from here no matter what the cause of the behavior might have been.

    Financial restitution can have a big impact. Making him also work for the money to pay the sitter (or you) to replace the tv would have an even larger impact.

    Stealing I've called our local police dept and discussed the situation while the child wasn't around. Most depts will try to help. Then I'd take the child down (surprise for child) to the police dept and let the officers tell them exactly where stealing can get them. I did this one to Travis at age 8. Officers did a very good job. Scared the beejeebies out of him.
  11. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    It is nice to hear that my approach seems to be in line with what others think is appropriate. Of course I am not always right, so knowing my parenting in this type of situation is what others would do also is helpful feedback for me!

    This is an issue where I might recognize that my child needed a medication tweak or something but I would STILL do exactly the same thing. While we, the parents of difficult children, may know that their disabilities or diagnosis's or lack of maturity are a lot of what drives the behaviors, there are some things that it really cannot matter in. The world just will NOT make allowances for these diagnosis's or whatevers and our jobs as parents of difficult children is to make them into members of society who follow the rules. with-O some MAJOR logical consequences, there simply is no way this child will "get" that the no stealing and no destroying other people's things rules apply to him just as to others. He is breaking these rules in huge ways with people outside his home/immediate family and NO ONE is going to tolerate this for very long.

    Sometimes the BEST way to help our children, difficult child or not, is to let them have a logical consequence that is hard to accomplish, like working off the cost of the tv or at least a big part of it. NOT doing something big with this is telling him that the rules don't apply to him - and this is a lie. It also is setting him up for the world to teach him NASTY and HARD lessons. Yes, it is hard to work off a lot of money when you are ten. In fact, maybe he should sell some of this things in a yard sale or have you take them to a pawn shop if he has a nice tv, a game system that is fairly new (like a wii or nintendo ds or newer playstation or xbox), games for the game systems, etc.... In fact, if you were to put these on ebay with an ad that said that these had to be sold to help difficult child learn that he must pay for anything he destroys in anyone's home or business, I would be willing to bet that you got some pretty good bids because people want to pitch in and help in some wo that. ay. I have seen similar things on ebay, like moms selling son's game systems to pay for damage to their home, and often they got far more in bids that sales with just a straight up description of the product. People want to help when something like this is going on. Not having those things is a punishment in itself, but is also a very logical natural consequence. When an adult has a big bill that must be paid, often we must get rid of our things to pay for the bill. Heck, with people having hard times now the pawn shops seem busier than ever before. If you pawn the item, let difficult child work extra hard to get the money to get the item back. if he earns enough aside from the money left that he has to earn after his things are sold or pawned, then he can redeem them from the pawnshop. Actually YOU would redeem them because kids cannot pawn things.

    All of this is part of a life lesson that everyone must learn. It is far better to learn this at his age than when you are older. The world is a LOT nicer to you when you are young like your son. If he cannot learn this lesson, he will spend time in jail, whether as a juvenile or an adult.

    My gfgbro used to be incredibly paranoid about people stealing his stuff. Finally I realized it was because HE was a thief. There is a seniors community in our town that is very nice and very expensive. As a teenager my gfgbro used to go and enter any unlocked home at night. he would rifle around looking for money or items he watned to have. It never bothered him that people were HOME - he thought that was really the best part - to take from them while they were home asleep. He claims to have stopped doing this after an old man came in and looked really scared and confused - so he ran out with what he had already found, which wasn't much. My gfgbro could NEVER understand why i wouldn't go anywhere with him with-o our parents or why I told him this was WRONG. He was a senior in high school but still very young in years (skipped some school). He also, for at least twenty years, would go into any abandoned looking buildings he saw and take what he wanted. now he did get some beat up pieces of furniture and he did refinish them to truly beautiful pieces that are actual works of art. He is that good at refinishing furniture. But other than one dresser that was in our home when I was growing up, and a table I used to have that I bought and he refinished as a gift, I will NOT have any of his pieces in my home. Because they were STOLEN. My mother firmly beleives that he would not do that, and she has at least one that I know was stolen for a fact because gfgbro came home with salt all in the back of his clothes. The owner of the property where he got this beat up item from shot at him with shotgun shells full of rock salt. gfgbro thought that was funny too. He has also had people shooting bullets at him over this - and if they had hit him it would NOT be the shooter's fault. He has done this in many areas, not jsut around our home.

    THIS is why I have been so strict with my kids over stealing and taking other people's property from a very young age. Wiz was three when he stole a screw and nut from a hardware store. Tiny ones, would have cost a quarter max and I would have paid for them with-o any problem, but he just put them in his pocket and kept them. So I made him go back, apologize and pay for them and then not take them. This lesson lasted until his teens when what he stole was always something in line with his obsessions. I recognize that the obsession was driving it, but I still did all of the things I said in my first post.

    The world will NOT accept the diagnosis as the reason for the behavior. they may agree that it was why it happened, but they will STILL give a harsh punishment for the offense. I NEVER want one of our difficult children to end up in the hospital or worse because they stole something and the owner shot and hit them. I have had nightmares about this since I was a teen - first about my bro then about difficult child at one point.