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Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Will you help me figure out an appropriate punishment for my son's wrongdoing?

Asked by Simone_De_Beauvoir (39007points) August 1st, 2011

Background info: My son is 5, he’s a good & kind kid, generally speaking. When he is with my aunt, however, he behaves like a different (much more spoiled, belligerent) child. When I hear about his behavior while in her care, I literally can not believe my ears (neither can my partner + mom, his other two primary caretakers) because that just doesn’t sound like anything we’d ever tolerate or even have to deal with (like he’d lie down on the street in a tantrum or throw a bottle at a passing car). She is not very good at disciplining him and has no issue with him manipulating the hell out of every situation with his tears. That’s fine because that is her choice and she needs to bear the fruits of her mistakes. However, this morning, his actions went too far and he scratched (either with his nails or a pencil) all over her LCD flat screen TV. My mom told me about it in the morning, I haven’t yet seen the damage, but my aunt said she expects me to pay for her new TV (which is highly unlikely, but whatever).

I spoke to Alexey and he did admit to his doing (as he always does) and he did apologize and said I can sell his toys (so that I can get money to pay my aunt) and all that. I will talk to Alex later on and in the meantime I wanted advice on appropriate punishment. We’re big fans of consequence parenting – read: NOT any kind of physical punishment, whatsoever.

I was thinking the following:
1. No ice cream or staying at my aunt’s for 2 weeks
2. No new toys until New Year’s.

Too harsh? Not enough? What would you do? What else can I ask of him? He knows what he did was wrong, for sure and I don’t think he will do anything like that again, but then again who knows?

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241 Answers

redfeather's avatar

I think selling some(or all, you know what he has more than we do) of his toys is an appropriate punishment. Ice cream, ehh… He might get it but unless he’s really obsessed with ice cream, he won’t really care. Selling his toys though… Oh man. When I was his age I’d be devastated and know not to act that way again.

CWOTUS's avatar

No television for a very long time.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I think there’s more to the situation with the aunt. Something doesn’t smell right.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@redfeather Well, I really am not going to bother with selling his toys. I think he got that idea from my mother who never actually means anything she says she will do. I don’t really want to take toys away from him because I like what toys provide him with and that is intelletual development. What’s the point of taking all his mega-puzzles away when they’re no so much to spoil him but keep him occupied, you know?
@CWOTUS Oh! I forgot about that. Certainly, when he does go back to hanging out at my aunt’s, no cartoons for a month – thanks!

Cruiser's avatar

Personally I would get a big box and have him fill it up with his favorite toys not all as he should have something to play with. And then tell him he can earn the toys back with good behavior and you can then reward him with a toy each and every time he exhibits better behavior or does something you would like him to do better at. You should decide these actions and a 5 yr old is too young to decide his own punishments.

I would also ask him to do a nice thing for his aunt as a household chore when he next visits…like vacuum or sweep a floor or two. Maybe even consider not allowing him to watch TV while he is there for the next visit or two.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I’m not sure, but it doesn’t sound like he’s in a healthy environment with her. Not sure how or why, but I’d do some digging.

redfeather's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir yeah, I get that. I was just thinking about, in terms of possessions, if you don’t treat other people’s possessions nicely, you don’t get to keep yours. Something like that.

Aethelflaed's avatar

The no new toys until New Years thing: Do kids at that age have a long enough attention span (or whatever) to be able to connect the no new toys to the crime past a couple of weeks or months? My worry would be that by October, he’d just see it as Mommy being mean, and not realize it was for drawing on the tv, and then those are just pointless months of tension in your household. I totally don’t know that answer, I just thought I’d bring it up as a concern.

snowberry's avatar

I“m inclined to think that Auntie is at the very least, a bad example in that she won’t enforce boundaries (what’s wrong with her)?. I think She’s the bad influence. Hence, he won’t be going to visit at Auntie’s unless you are there.

If he’s fond of visiting her, he’ll get the message. If he isn’t, well he’ll still get the message. Perhaps Auntie will too.

You could also have him write her a note of apology, and begin chores that will pay, or help to pay for her new tv screen (I think those things are replaceable, but at a very high cost, like many $100’s)

That’s a start.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe No, it’s fine. She lives with us, I monitor everyone closely anyway. It’s just that he gets away with more stuff than usual with her and she just can’t say no. Most of the time, though, he’s okay there too. My aunt is a stubborn person, she doesn’t really care too much for my ways of being – she’s a traditional, religious person who hates just about every choice I made in my life. When I tell her something, she believes it’s all crap. Again, I will have Alex check out the damage and see if I really do need to get her a new TV and inform her, once again, that she ALWAYS has the option of sending him upstairs if he begins to misbehave since most of the time he’s with her when I am also available to watch him. It’s all voluntary.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Aethelflaed I guess we’ll see about his attention span.

snowberry's avatar

I’d explain to her that since she refuses to hold him accountable, you’re not going to be responsible to pay for the damages he does. And I’d really try to limit his time with her. It sounds like he might love her, but he doesn’t respect her. If he doesn’t respect her now, you know he’s not going to learn how by doing more of the same. If nothing changes, in 10 years you could be living a nightmare.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@snowberry Well yes, I agree with you there but it is her TV, after all and someone still should be held responsible (even if they both share the blame). As for respect, I don’t think a 5 year old can understand that in a form other than ‘this is a person of authority, respect them’ which I think is ridiculous. He knows love and affection and respect for all and all that but it doesn’t always register, I think. As for what will happen in 10 years, I don’t think we’ll be living with a nightmare.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

I guess I’m just a harsh mom, because none of those suggestions sound like enough punishment for deliberately misbehaving and ruining an expensive TV. Sure, sure, a TV is just a thing, but I strongly believe in teaching kids to respect other people’s things.

If one of my daughters trashed a family member or friend’s TV, they would receive a stinging hand to ass, and be grounded from all TV, games or any other “fun” activities for a solid month. If they “forgot” why they were being punished, I would remind them of the damage they did.

SpatzieLover's avatar

I’m with @CWOTUS. There is zero TV for a very long time (2–3weeks). I would take a photo of the damage so that he can see what he did to remind him why he has no TV when he inevitably asks

What he did was a reaction to something. I’d want to know more here. What exactly was said to Alex before he did this?

How did he get away with doing this unless she had her attentions elsewhere? Why would he want to?

Something is fishy. He needs to be calmly asked what made him feel like doing this.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I have little to add to what has been said other than seconding the idea that there’s something about your son’s relationship with his aunt that doesn’t sound right.

@SpatzieLover has a good suggestion about taking a picture of the TV so that during the period of whatever punishment you decide on, he can be reminded of why he’s enduring it.

incendiary_dan's avatar

Go with the rack. It’s a classic punishment device for a reason.~

No TV in exchange for wrecking a TV seems fair. Not that there’s anything good on anyway.

Blackberry's avatar

Taking away my fun things always worked for me: TV, games, some toys etc.

Jellie's avatar

Just talk to him and explain the situation to him. He’s old enough to understand.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate Well you know I’m not going to put a hand to his ass, so that’s out of the question. And really, neither of them watch all that much tv and they don’t play games and not many of their toys are frivolous so I’m having an issue figuring out what to take away. But all of you have given me much to think about and I just spoke to Alex briefly and I think part of what we need to do is to sit him down with us in a quiet environment and talk to him (together, for severity) about how one should never do a thing like that.

sophiesword's avatar

make him do chores for his aunt .

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir My antenna is still twitching that the’s more to the story. Something is behind what he did. And he admitted it and said you could sell his toys.

wundayatta's avatar

It sounds like his Aunt is using TV and other things to babysit him instead of doing it herself. Do you pay her or is she doing this for free? I think he is probably not used to the kind of attention he gets from her, since you guys paying him more serious attention, and so he acts out, trying to get her to pay more attention to him. Have you asked him if he likes being at his aunt’s?

What are his privileges? You wouldn’t want to take away educational opportunities. I doubt if you want to take away socializing opportunities (i.e., keeping him isolated). Perhaps you might have him make restitution, insofar as he can. Is there some way he can help auntie? Of if auntie isn’t appropriate, some help he can provide that he doesn’t already do? Something that could be fun so he doesn’t passively resist?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@SpatzieLover Yeah, I agree. @Adirondackwannabe got me thinking that perhaps there is something that she says or does that gets him to feel especially angry or crazed. However, my intution tells me it’s much more about not having any boundaries there, a topic I covered numerous times.

ucme's avatar

It’s difficult to give an accurate assessment when any potential mitigating circumstances are unknown.
So i’m going to give an opinion based on the bare facts & more or less what i’d do given the same scenario. It seems to me that this has less to do with your child & perhaps more of an influence is the relationship between you & your aunt, which seems to be strained.
As i’m sure you’re well aware of, a kid, even one so young, picks up on a ton of “adult stuff.”
Maybe he’s been thrown into confusion into the boundaries of his behaviour, as a result of inter family tensions. My guess would be that the aunt is the primary factor here & a family conference could be the way to go.

blueiiznh's avatar

First make sure you get all the right information. Go see it and take him with you while you review the damage.

If it truly is physical damage he did to someone elses property, it needs a bit more punishment than “no ice cream”

Try to talk to him to understand the reason behind him acting out in a destructive way. This is really as important if not moreso than the reenforcing punishment you are about to bestow.

There must be some enforcing action that shows him that there is a $$ behind what he has done and for him to ponder it and the consequences.

Selling toys or some monies from a bank account may not solidify it with a 5 year old. You need to take away something that is part of his daily activity. Something that he will remember is a direct result of his actions.

Chores, takeaways, etc. Draw a line and stick to it.

Help him be the best little man he can be. Make certain that he understands that his actions are unacceptable behavior.

Good luck

wundayatta's avatar

Here’s another idea. Maybe you could talk with him every day, to remind him of what he did, and then ask him if there is anything he can do to help his aunt? Also let him know you are disappointed, and you are sure this is a one-time thing, and you’d like to see him do better. It’s tough, because you don’t want too much guilt on him, but you do want him to be reminded of what he’s done and that he can make up for it.

SpatzieLover's avatar

I agree that a boundary-less environment is not a good place for a 5yr old. That does not explain his reactionary behavior you’ve detailed. He is reacting to something that he is unable or unwilling to articulate to you.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@wundayatta The tv was probably off, actually. She turns it on in the morning so he can watch cartoons for 10 minutes and I don’t think he’d do that during cartoon-watching. I do not pay anyone to babysit my child, it is all (as I said) completely voluntary. I’m not sure how to answer as to what his privileges are, exactly. I also don’t want to take away his activities (like swimming and soccer) since a) I paid for those and b) I find them to be extremely important.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@SpatzieLover Yes, I agree we need to dig deeper and ask him more questions about why he behaves like that only with her. I’ve tried to dig deeper with her about this, as well, but she (like I said)...well, it’s like talking to the wall. Since it’s all voluntary, she is okay with whatever he’s done so far since she hasn’t drawn the line of ‘no staying with me’ with him. He does like being down there and I don’t think this was done in a mean way, just in a careless way.

cazzie's avatar

How did he do that if she was ‘looking after’ him. He’s 5. My son is a monster at his grandmother’s (his father’s mother, mine is dead.) He doesn’t tell him ‘no’, until it is way too late and even makes a game and fun out of his misbehaviour, encouraging it. Drives me insane! When I try to discipline him, she gets moody and says she feels ‘bad’ about it. We don’t visit much.

He’s 5. Some of the responsibility has to rest with the adult that was meant to be supervising him, but that is for her to realise herself. As for him, I would try to make him realise the extent of the damage he did, though, and how much TVs cost. Reminding him by taking his TV rights away would certainly be a start and somehow doing something for his aunt as reparation would help too, starting with him sitting down and drawing a picture of how sorry he is. (I’m guessing he can’t write a letter of apology, so a picture of apology would be more age appropriate.)

Regardless of how naughty a kid that age is, he needs to be mentally stimulated, so cutting off all toys may not be a completely practical idea. Perhaps one particular ‘range’ of toys he is fond of, but hold little pedagogic value… like if he is into Pokeman or ‘Cars 2’, don’t allow him those. I don’t find ‘food’ punishments of any value at all.

What has worked for me is taking a recently-favourite toy and putting it ‘jail’ for a time and telling him he needs to ‘earn it back’, by showing me he can behave properly.
Good luck. I know you feel like you have the only kid like this, but trust me, you are not alone. Sometimes I feel like I gave birth to Dr. Jeckle and Mr Hyde.

wundayatta's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir She’s not paid, which makes me think she doesn’t pay him proper attention and may even resent him, passively. He, of course, can detect that, and may be acting out in the only way he could think of. As @Adirondackwannabe said, there is something behind this. I would be good to find out. Have you asked him why he did this? Have you asked him about his feelings about his aunt?

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Do you think no boundaries would lead to him deliberately destroying something that belongs to her?
Now that I haven’t answered your question: Set up a debt he has to repay. Certain chores or deeds earn him so much against the debt so it takes him awhile to get to even. So he understands actions have a price.

atlantis's avatar

Do you think he has any issues with his aunt? It’s odd that he reacts that way around just her. Talk to your aunt maybe she can give you some insight.

bluesaphire's avatar

Whoa look at all the activity on this…

blueiiznh's avatar

Isn’t parenting wonderful!

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@wundayatta I haven’t asked those two questions but I intend on it. I was caught off guard by the whole situation since I was running out to go to work and was popping my head into mom’s (she took them to school today) so that I can kiss the kids goodbye. She told me about the situation quickly, he admitted to it and seemed kind of apologetic, perhaps scared of what I’d say (so he definitely knows it’s wrong to do). I told him I’m disappointed to have to hear he did something outrageous like this again and that I will talk to him about his punishment later on today.

SpatzieLover's avatar

If asking your aunt is like talking to a wall, I’d make it clear with Alex he needs to tell you everything that happened and everything she said to him this morning.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Sweet Holy Moly, I say not enough, I would say no Christmas or birthday the next 18 months or whatever comes fist, and he has to weed her garden. On top of that no TV, no computer and his own toys are impounded until the TV is replaced or repaired.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Are there seriously 21 people viewing this question? Wow.

I agree that something is amiss. If this isn’t normal behavior for him, that raises at least one red flag. The fact that he is able to cause so much mischief while she is “watching” him is also unsettling. My nephew is a good kid, but if you give him an inch he will run miles with it. I know this, so that means that I know when he is in my care that I have to keep a watchful eye. You nip that behavior before it escalates to a point that the child is acting completely out of character. I know that I’m repeating much of what was already said above, but I feel like it is crucial to get to the root of the issue before deciding what the best course of action is.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@SpatzieLover Alexey is the kid. Alex is the dad. :)
Yes, I agree. Thanks for being a good sounding board and for the advice.

Ayesha's avatar

Could it be that his behavrious reflects your relationship with your aunt? Are you two on good terms?

SpatzieLover's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir thanks. I’m certain Alexey is a normal 5yr old…and the aunt is a typical, older thinking relative? How old is she?

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir what is she like, in general? Is she active? Even-tempered? Friendly? Creative? Just some general character traits… maybe it will give us (or you) a foothold to find a revealing perspective.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Ayesha I don’t think so since any negative interaction I have with her is NEVER when kids are around and when the kids are around, all of us make sure to act completely respectful of one another (which is why when my mom and I scream at each other in front of the kids, it means it’s a really big deal like this past week, but anyway). Oh, more on that. My mom and I have a much more problematic relationship that I do with my aunt and he does NOT at all behave like that with her.

El_Cadejo's avatar

I want to preface this by saying I have no real experience being not a parent or anything

That said, honestly it sounds like the Aunt is the problem. If there are problems between you two it sounds even more that she is purposely not enforcing rules around him as a way to get at you. It sounds extremely odd since he is a good kid around you but not her.

atlantis's avatar

I agree with blu. He has a point. The child must be disciplined. He has to know that there are boundaries to how you can act. Make sure he registers that it is wrong to treat other people’s posssessions. He will only learn this if his own things are taken away or if he feels the need for his own things.

Mariah's avatar

I agree with taking away TV for the length of time the aunt is lacking a TV, and maybe you can impress upon him somehow, how much money a TV is? Talk to him about how many toys it equals, and maybe take away that number of toys for a while. That’d show him the consequence of his actions in terms he understands. But I have seen the problems you have listed with taking away toys that you have listed, so I don’t know…

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf She’s a complete doormat, in general…even if she’s a stubborn doormat. She spent her entire life serving her father and my father or her long now gone once husband. She never had kids and is pretty straight-laced: God is a very good friend of hers. Every once in a while she’ll throw holy water on me or mention that my youngest misbehaves because he wasn’t christened. Oh man, I should mention that Alexey was christened and ruined her TV anyway to her.

SpatzieLover's avatar

I see. I’d bet she addresses you in a passive style. My thinking is she also watches Alexey in a passive, reactionary style. He is therefore picking up on her behavior. His behavior and temperament with her are your barometer of what is going on when she watches him.

He reacts to gain her attention. She gives it…and so it goes. She created this situation.

My mother does the same, unless I’m home with her when she & my son are together. Last night my son cut up a bunch of toys. He never would do such a thing with myself or daddy watching him.

rebbel's avatar

First of all, I am not a parent.
My gut reaction is: no punishment.
Talk with him, maybe invite aunt to it too, and explain that this is really not tolerable.
Damaging goods, whomever they belong too, is a big no-no, because it hurts the goods and the person who’s possession it is.
He knows that, I am sure, but for some unclear reason he did his deed nonetheless.
He should be made clear that in the future this behaviour will not happen anymore because that would disappoint mummy and daddy (and aunty) greatly, not to mention there will be consequences then (one of the ones you suggested in your details).
Again, this from an unexperienced (in raising children) guy.

wundayatta's avatar

I would look to see if there is any kind of mistreatment by your aunt. Is it merely benign neglect (which is mistreatment in my book), or is there more to it. I wonder if Alexey will remember his day by the time you get home. Is Alex out of the house, too? If he is home, what is he doing about the situation?

blueiiznh's avatar

Even if he is good as gold for you and others and is a little devil for his aunt, it is still unacceptable behavior.
If he is acting out because of his or anyones relationship with the aunt is secondary.

Do not enable the actions by filtering relationships into it.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@SpatzieLover Yes, mostly she’s passive with them, especially when they don’t listen to her. I know another big problem (in the morning) is that he doesn’t eat quickly enough (to make it out of the door, on time…when she takes them to school). He does the same upstairs too but I’ve got more of a handle on it anyhow. I know how frustrating that must be and it drives her crazy. Still, I don’t think she’d ever say anything mean or hurtful to him because she’d be scared I’d cut her or something.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@rebbel to be completely honest, I am a parent and my gut reaction is no punishment. Not that there shouldn’t be a lesson and that this shouldn’t be closely watched. He needs to learn that his reaction to whatever was going on is completely inappropriate and is not acceptable behavior, but something odd is going on. Children are very perceptive, and I feel like he is picking up on something that we aren’t.
That is, of course, assuming that @Simone_De_Beauvoir isn’t biased in saying that this is really unusual behavior for him.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@wundayatta Oh he will remember, trust me. I am picking them both up from school and Alex left earlier today (he has three rotating shifts, today was the earliest). It doesn’t really matter because today Alexey spent his morning mostly with my mom and then went downstairs to my aunt and then that happened, I guess.

SpatzieLover's avatar

My best advice is to try to remove all emotion from your voice before you speak to him. If you can, sit next to him, not across from him when you bring it up and begin asking questions.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf I really do feel this is out of character for him (but not unexpected) and that he absolutely needs to be taught a lesson through having something happen besides a conversation with his parents, a formal apology to my aunt, you know? He has to have something happen for a week or two or more to remember that he is not to do any such thing again. As far as respect for things and people, that is always a lesson, on a daily basis, especially in his pre-school.

sophiesword's avatar

In answer to your response to @Ayesha he does not need to be there when you are fighting or screaming. He can be picking up these things by just listening to you talking about your aunt negatively. Children are really possessive about parents and loved ones so it wouldn’t be a surprise if he is unconsciously acting on his feelings of hostility towards the aunt.

blueiiznh's avatar

One thing that has worked effectively for me is to ask the child what his punishment should be.

Send them somewhere to think about it. Ensure they know that they will need to ponder it more that 5 minutes. Let them think about it for a good while and review the feedback.

You may learn a bit more in how he views it when you hear his perspective on the punishments.

It always worked when I wanted some deeper reflection to go into it from their side.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@blueiiznh took the words out of my mouth. I was literally just about to say that. I agree 100% with asking the child what they believe the most appropriate punishment should be. I feel like it helps to drive the message home, it forces them to really think about what they did, and to evaluate what it means. And then I would build from their opinion.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@sophiesword I am extremely aware of how adult conversation and body language and all that can affect children and be absorbed by them. That kind of talk does NOT happen in front of them, even slightly, ever. He’s not psychic.

I do want to give this line of reasoning some benefit of the doubt though. He knows she and I disagree on some things. Example: he likes to have his hair in a ponytail or in a braid and so I make him a ponytail, he goes down there and she makes him take it out saying (as is typical) that it’s only for girls. I simply (no emotion) tell him she has no say over what he does with his hair and that I don’t agree with her and that he is free to express his emotions on the subject with her.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf I think I will include that in the conversation, yes.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I don’t know if you guys are making me paranoid and all but is it possible that she says mean things about me in front of him? It just seems unlikely and he’d probably tell me, he is at the stage where he tells everyone what anyone else said, esp. if it was about them. She also is very buddy-buddy with my ex-husband (they share the meekness quality and the inability to discipline Alexey) and I always feel she feels indignant on his behalf since it was I who left him and how dare I do such a thing. She also knows that I have extremely negative emotions towards him often and disagrees with me in that regard as well. I just don’t think she’d (even body language wise) would take that out on Alexey. She also watches our 2 and a half year old who’s a fierce monsterbaby (in a good way) and his behavior doesn’t change when he’s down there. He’s young though. When they’re small, they love being there.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir that sounds pretty powerful. Are there other family members that are so aggressive in attacking his choices about his own body? I know that you guys are very good about allowing him to choose, and I remember the specific story that you shared not too long ago about the braids. I believe that you handle it very well, but if she is the most aggressive or habitual person in telling him that his choice is wrong, could this be him rebelling against that?

SpatzieLover's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Would he tell you if she says mean stuff about him though? “You need a haircut.” etc…Would she mutter something like this under her breath?

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@SpatzieLover @Hypocrisy_Central He’s 5…Not 15. And…., if he can wreck a TV he is old enough to pulls some weeds in the garden. Then he can destroy something no one cares about.

Had that been my kid it would be handle MUCH differently, he would know never to do it again.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@SpatzieLover exactly. Now I’m starting to wonder about that. I wonder if she is harassing him, even subtly, because she has a different idea of what is appropriate for a young boy than his parents do.

blueiiznh's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir anything is possible. Have a heart to heart sitdown with your little man and listen for the truth.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf I don’t think he’s rebelling against that because I don’t think it happens often enough in a consistent manner (he doesn’t go down there with ponytails or braids all that often, that’s what I mean). @SpatzieLover Yes, I can hear her mutter something like that under her breath.

Ayesha's avatar

I think the first punishment is not enough and the second is too harsh !

SpatzieLover's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir If he doesn’t have these types of reactions with you it is clear she’s the root of this behavior. She’s saying or doing something to him. I think you will have to carefully draw it out.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Ayesha Yes, I agree. I have now adjusted it to:

1. No ice cream for 2 weeks.
2. No staying down there in the morning for a month.
3. No new toys for a couple of months.

Ayesha's avatar

why dont you try grounding him like no toys for a specefic time period

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@SpatzieLover If I confront her (which I have no issue with doing), she will saying she did NOTHING wrong. That’s how my blood relatives are, blame it all on the system, on society, on NYU, on parenting, on the outside just NEVER on themselves, ever. And if I will try to ask him, he might not tell me immediately but I now have a better understanding of what to talk to him about tonight.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Ayesha Because I think toys are an important part of his development. Most of his toys are activity-specific like puzzles rather than pointless like nerfguns.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir are the braids and ponytails the only things she has ever commented on? What about his bangs or long hair?

I, personally, would have Alexey choose a group of his favorite toys or books. Then have him “rank” them from most valuable to least valuable. Not necessarily by monetary means, but sentimental value is sufficient. Then I would take the most “valuable” item away for 1 or 2 weeks. I suspect that he already knows that the TV was a valuable item, but turning that lesson on him may give him perspective.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir That discipline sounds fair. I’d make it clear it is due to his “choice” to react with destruction.

If she says or does something he doesn’t like or makes him feel bad he needs to be reminded to use his words.

EDIT: It sometimes takes my son a week for the whole story to come out. At the end of your talk, I’d leave it open-ended. I’d specifically tell him “I want to know if you think of anything else that bothers you when you’re with Auntie”

Ayesha's avatar

or give him a stern talk children this age can be influenced easily and try nipping it in the bud

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf I’m sure she has commented probably on other things like our veganism. She had a problem with that transition just like my mother did but that was over a year and a half ago. She lets him know, surely, how she feels about a bunch of things but I think, again, she makes it sound removed like “I believe this is wrong”. Maybe he hears it like “Mommy is wrong”.

YoBob's avatar

Bottom line is that you are the parent and know what is appropriate for your child.

As for “physical punishment”, consider this. Physical retribution can take the form of requiring the child to provide physical labor to earn the money to pay back the damages (as opposed to whacking him around, which FWIW, I do not condone).

Has the child ever been put in a situation where he is forced to make the connection between toys (or other material objects) and the work required to obtain them? Without that connection the toys you take away or choose not to give him, or for that matter the physical objects that others are attached to (like LCD televisions) have no real value to him.

If it were my child he would be mowing lawns, picking up dog poo, or any number of other odd jobs for minimum wage until every last cent of that TV was paid off.

Your mileage may vary…

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@SpatzieLover And I think she needs to be reminded that if he says or does something she doesn’t like, she can just send him upstairs, esp if she doesn’t want to discipline him.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Yes. It absolutely works both ways. She should be able to see him beginning to get out of her control and say “You go back to mommy now” :)

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if that is the root of the issue. I wonder if his behavior is intended to be defensive of you & Alex. Just a guess, of course… but I think you’re getting somewhere with this.

Hopefully your talk goes well, and he learns a valuable lesson in the meanwhile.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@YoBob He knows things cost money. He knows money isn’t something we all have a lot of. He knows he doesn’t have money, hence the offering to sell his toys. He feels badly. Her TV is prob $400 and I’m not going to have my 5 year old doing odd jobs until he’s repaid it all since that would require him to work for a very very long time, longer that I think necessary. I also do not feel all that comfortable about making a lot of things about money or that things have value because they cost money.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf Well you would think that if she were defensive about me and Alex, she’d take it out on the child that is ‘ours’ (in that he’s biologically ours), not the child that is ‘not ours’ (in that I made him with my ex).

wundayatta's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir He will feel the emotion behind what she says much more strongly that he will hear what she says.

You will find out what his feelings were that led to this behavior. I would ask him to think of alternative ways he could have used to deal with it. Primarily, I’d want him to come to me to discuss anything before seeking to redress his grievances like this. I’d tell him he can always come to me and I’ll be fair. But do not take action into your own hands first, even if you are angry.

If his grievance was with a kid, I would tell him to try to talk about it rather than take physical action. The point is to use his words. I’m sure you already know this. So really, I’m just reminding you to discuss how he should have handled his problem.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

With all the attention and answers this is getting you would think we all know what were doing when it comes to childcare.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe I’m kind of surprised at the volume of the response myself. Perhaps, this is one of those ‘non-controversial’ questions that is the holy grail of Fluther questions.

I appreciate all the feedback greatly.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir no no, I don’t mean that she is being defensive of you. I mean that perhaps you are right in that he hears “mommy is wrong” when your aunt says something like ‘braids are for girls’ or ‘it’s bad for you not to drink milk.’
She may believe what she is saying is harmless, and it may be very subtle… but maybe he really is being defensive of your values, as you have taught them to him, and ultimately defensive of you.

blueiiznh's avatar

If this is not a question of the day, I don’t know what would be!

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf I mean really..I never thought of my oldest kid as being defensive of my values…I just never considered it…but again, if this was so…wouldn’t he act out much more at my mom’s? Then again, my mom has got her disciplining down. I think of them all, I’m the harshest in least tolerance for tantrums or tears. Then comes my mom, then alex, then his bio-dad, then my aunt, then my cat.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@blueiiznh I sent it to auggie.

tom_g's avatar

@Aethelflaed: “The no new toys until New Years thing: Do kids at that age have a long enough attention span (or whatever) to be able to connect the no new toys to the crime past a couple of weeks or months? My worry would be that by October, he’d just see it as Mommy being mean, and not realize it was for drawing on the tv, and then those are just pointless months of tension in your household. I totally don’t know that answer, I just thought I’d bring it up as a concern.”

This!! We do realize we’re talking about a 5-year-old, right? People like to think that they’re just adult minds with undeveloped restraint. If we could just teach them to think before they act, etc. Is it possible that a 5-year-old will be able to make a connection between his actions and his punishment next week?
If my kids had ever done something like that, I’d be very concerned. There may be something he is communicating that he does not have words for. There may be a real opening for communication here. I’m not sure long-term punishment is anything but retribution. If that’s the goal, then fine. If the goal is to understand what is going on with him, and to make sure it doesn’t happen again, I’m thinking there has to be another way.

Pandora's avatar

I agree with @CWOTUS about the TV.
As for what she does to get him to behave may be the problem. At 5 children can be easily manipulated but when they figure things out they being to see manipulation as being lied too.
He may think Auntie is a big fat liar and he will lose all respect for her. Add that to the fact that she doesn’t disappline him and he then feels out of control.
He probably feels safer when you or your partner are around because you guys set boundries and you don’t lie to him.
Auntie needs to realize he need love, attention, the truth at all times and boundries. He’s only 5. She shouldn’t expect him to follow his conscious. You tell a 5 year old he has two pieces of candy and doesn’t have to share the other piece with his friend, then he will eat both pieces.
He may also get mad when she does try to be firm because she isn’t consistent and has figured out that when he has a melt down he will get his way with her.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Pandora Yes! I believe she is firm with him sometimes and then not other times and that they don’t know how to deal with inconsistency.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir perhaps. I’m just guessing, of course. I’m not there, I don’t know your child or your aunt… so I am only offering suggestions by what information I’ve been given in the time I’ve known you and what has been said here in this thread.
I think that the relationship with your mother is significant, grandparents have a unique relationship with their grandchildren. And vice versa. Also, I do think that the discipline has a lot to do with it. If your mom is no nonsense, and your aunt is less attentive, I wouldn’t be surprised that she would be the one to get the brunt of it.
But that’s assuming that it is even true. Who knows, I could be way off base.
Either way, I still find it problematic that he manages to be so destructive while in her care. She is the adult, he is 5, she must know that he requires more attention and supervision than she is giving.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

I’d like to add to my previous comment. I’m not a child psychologist, but after watching my own two children grow and rebel, I feel I can safely say that when a child damages someone else’s belongings, there is usually something behind it.

When my oldest was 7, she got really pissed off at her little sister for playing with one of her barbies, so she decided to cut up some of her sister’s clothes while mommy was safely out of her way in the shower. When I found out, she first received a stinging ass smack, then she was made to call her daddy and tell him what she’d done, then she was told she was grounded from the TV, her games, her toys and from having any friends over for three weeks. After she finished crying, we had a long talk about respecting other people’s things, whether we’re angry or not.

Being deprived of almost everything she loved for such an extended period of time really forced her to learn her lesson. Children must learn that when they do something awful, there will be some sort of suffering because of it.

You can’t use “no time with Auntie for 2 weeks” as a punishment, because obviously, he already has some sort of problem with her. You can’t use “no ice cream for 2 weeks” as a punishment, because that would be like a 16 year old wrecking the car and you punishing him by withholding his favorite meals. That’s not disciplinging him, it’s enabling him by saying, “Oh, you can do something terrible and you’ll get off with the lightest sentence possible.” And that’s giving your child a dangerous attitude about life.

blueiiznh's avatar

Also remember that at 5 years old they are still at the age of pushing the envelope and seeing where the line is. I am sure you will make sure the line is clear.

The good thing to remember is that he is about to enter the age of reasoning. Hallelujah for that.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf I don’t know what it is about. I have wondered if she resents having them in her care but I have repeatedly told her that they do not HAVE to be down there and that I can take care of them. She is bad at communicating anything to me, though. I had to hear it from my mother when my aunt was having trouble with having the both of them down there and it was my mom who asked me to not send Ark down there during the morning. I said that obviously that was fine and that I didn’t know it was difficult for her and that she never said a single thing to me about it.

Ayesha's avatar

time out ? it can be very effective but if he is a bit sensitive then you might not want to, you know best !

keobooks's avatar

What I would do is this—pay your sister back for the television. Then you explain that you paid his debt and now he owes you the money for the television. I’d set it at one or two hundred dollars since there is no way he’d be able to actually pay off the full amount in a reasonable time.

Make a thermometer chart, like they used to do on telethons or other fundraising events. If he doesn’t have an allowance now is a good time to start. Say every week for doing x chores around the house, he gets 5 dollars. When you give it to him, wad each dollar bill up into a crumply ball so it looks like a bigger wad of money.

Get two very large pickle jars. One wad of money goes into his jar and the other four goes into his debt jar. Keep the jars in his sight so he can see how much more money he’d be getting if he didn’t have to pay off the debt. Mark how much he pays on the thermometer chart. When he gets ¼th paid off, he can choose to keep 2 dollars and put only 3 in the jars. When he gets ½ way through, he can keep 3 and put 2 in the jar. When he gets ¾ths he can put in 1 dollar and keep 4.

Give him options to do extra tasks around the house for a dollar now and then so he can pay off faster.

He needs to associate money with work. And damage he does to property with money. This is a very natural consequence for adults. If he breaks something, it will cost money to replace. If he can’t pay it, you do. You are paying money that you wouldn’t have had to spend if he behaved properly. So he owes you that money. He also needs to learn this lesson sooner rather than later.

amujinx's avatar

I’m not a parent, but the two questions I would ask your son about this incident are, “How do you think <the aunt> feels about what you did?” and, “Why did you want to make <the aunt> feel this way?”.

everephebe's avatar

I agree with @CWOTUS no tv.

There should be no tv until the damage is paid for, and your son should figure out how to paid for it, whether it’s selling toys, chores, working, or no presents/ no ice cream until the value of what is missing is the amount of damage he created or his aunt is satisfied. The punishment shouldn’t be in anger, just this is the sad consequence of your actions, id est: “I want you buy you ice cream… but until you make it up to your aunt I can’t. You need to make things right with her young man.”

Also what’s up with him and his aunt?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate The things I mention as punishment are in addition to what you’d do (minus the spanking) – we are planning to have a serious conversation, we are planning on getting to the bottom of things with him and we are planning to talk to my aunt about the fact that their relationship can’t continue as such.

snowberry's avatar

@keobooks gave a great idea. But if you do that, be sure to make it tamper proof! And keep a running total of what’s in there, so YOU know.

linguaphile's avatar

I’ve read almost all the comments… but wanted to add something… I wonder if your son is reacting to the unpredictability of discipline- it sounds to me like he doesn’t know what to expect from her, especially if she’s passive in her caretaking and expects him to fill in the blanks.

Zaku's avatar

The punishments you came up with sound fine to me for consequences. Breaking something belonging to someone else means he stops getting things himself for a significant period (and 6 months is a long time to a 5-year-old).

I am more interested in what is going on that he acts out so destructively with your aunt. I don’t think people naturally attack cars and computers unless they are reacting to something. In my case, I would only have done something like that if I had been put up to it by another kid who had a lot of distress, or if I was very upset with the aunt. I would ask him what it is like to be with the aunt, how he feels about her, and what led up to throwing the bottle at the car, and damaging the screen.

Oh, and I love CWOTUS’ suggestion of no TV for a very long time. Good idea in any case, for everyone. ;-)

(Wow, 105 responses already – people are really interested in child punishments!)

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@keobooks Sounds complicated, lol, but of course I will consider it. I figure this is a good time as any to come up with chores for him to do though I didn’t want to connect chores to money but to the fact that he needs to participate in keeping our house livable, :). I don’t want them to learn that to do chores has to do with earning money. I want him to know that doing chores is about helping his parents, about community, etc. I will do the whole money/debt thing if I do pay her for the damage. Updates to come, people!

wundayatta's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate‘s comment reminded me of the difference when someone goes to daycare. In daycare, there are constantly conflicts with other kids, and the daycare teachers teach the kids how to solve their problems on their own, or bring them to the teacher. When you keep your kids home, there may not be as much interaction with other kids (does anyone have fifteen kids in the room at the same time)?

I don’t know if kids who stay home then get the opportunity to learn the “use your words” system of solving problems. And even if they do, there probably isn’t the same number of opportunities to practice it. Which means that when they do come up against a conflict such as some of us suspect happened here, the kids aren’t prepared to deal with it. So they resort to whatever they can think of.

Punishing a child after the fact is closing the proverbial barn door after the horse is stolen. If the kid didn’t know how to deal with the problem, then they shouldn’t be punished. This is a learning opportunity. That will make them feel bad enough. They will not feel like they got away with something.

In addition, you should make it clear that this is a family consequence, not just an Alexey consequence. That is, his behavior is costing you a lot of time and effort. You will have to work extra to pay for the TV. There will be problems with his relationship to his aunt.

I think it is important to show children they are not isolated actors. They live in a web of relationships and what they do affects a lot of people in powerful ways. When kids understand the consequences of a behavior, they have a better chance of predicting the consequence of a future behavior.

Not punishing the child is not at all saying that what he did was ok. It’s enough punishment to discuss this ad nauseum for days, until you are sure he understands the consequences of his behavior and he knows how he should have handled it.

You might take away a bit of tv or some toys, but that’s mainly symbolic as a reminder of consequences. The real consequence is understand that he makes a difference and can affect the lives of a lot of people.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Zaku I know, right?! I can’t get any work done! LOL

Pandora's avatar

Make sure that you or your partner aren’t undermining her or that she isn’t undermining you guys. You all have to be on the same page with disappline so he doesn’t feel it is all willy nilly boundries.
She should also be the one to give him his sentence of punishment. Not you guys. She is the one there with him and he did the offense to her.
At 5 my daughter had this kind of melt down. I tried everything with her but nothing worked. She was getting worse every day. The more angry and fustrated she became the more I just didn’t want to deal with her. I grew impatient.
I finally called a child counselor and vented all my fustration about her behavior. I asked her what else could I do? She asked me when was the last time I just held her in my arms and told her how much I loved her and spent the whole day with her. I then realized I was withdrawing my love for her and maybe that was her deal. I felt like a fool. I withdrew from her because I felt she didn’t want to be near me since she was so angry.
I held her in my arms and told her that I loved her and asked her what she would like to do. It was her day all day. No brother, no dad. Just her and me. I played all the silly games she wanted to play. At the end of the day I explained that I didn’t like her behavior but it didn’t mean I had ever stopped loving her for one second. And that other people in the home needed my attention and love as well, but no one was more important or less important to me.
It was like night and day. All her tantrums disappeared. All she needed was to be assured of my love for her.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@wundayatta Yes (nodding), I agree with what you say towards the end of your last comment. Very helpful, thank you! And he’s not at home, he’s a pre-school. He just hangs out there in the morning between waking up with us and playing with his brother and leaving to school. He also hangs out with her on the weekends sometimes, they go to the store together or whatever and it’s all good, for the most part then. This probably has to do with neither of them feeling rushed.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Pandora As far as that, I don’t know because I think we hug and tell him we love him to death, you know? And I know my mom does as well. I don’t know if my aunt does and were I to tell her to do so, she’d just reject the idea as ‘american fluff’.

Pandora's avatar

Tell her its not american stuff. Its a little boy needs assurance just the same as grown adults. Only at 5 he doesn’t know how how to sort his feelings yet.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Pandora Well of course, but if she was someone who’d respond to reason, we wouldn’t have the many problems we do have.

wundayatta's avatar

@Pandora Not every care taker has to do that, no? I mean, it’s good if they do, but isn’t it good enough that his parents and grandmother do that?

Pandora's avatar

@wundayatta No its not good enough. Children don’t understand labels. They love their caretakers too. Why wouldn’t they want their caretaker to love them. Why wouldn’t they want anyone else to love them. Its a wonderful feeling and being loved makes them feel safe as well.
@Simone_De_Beauvoir If this really isn’t going to work than take him to someone else. My sister in law has left her child with her moms for years. She to is inconsistant. Now no one can control him and he is 9. He’s grown into a very spoiled and obnoxious child that no one except grandma is willing to be around. He continues to throw tantrums. He use to listen to his mom but not any more. No one else like to have him in their care.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@wundayatta “Punishing a child after the fact is closing the proverbial barn door after the horse is stolen.”

That attitude kind of sickens me. Punishing a child after the fact is no different than punishing a criminal after the fact. Even though they acted out because they didn’t know how to deal with a problem, there must be consequences for their actions. Maybe a man hurt a woman because he has issues with his mother and didn’t know any other way to deal with it. So fucking what? he still did something wrong. Children who don’t receive punishment grow into adults who respect nothing and no one.

@Ayesha A time out is as approriate for Alexey’s behavior, as a time out would be if my husband bashed a hole in our front door just because he was mad. I think time outs are stupid. “You just sit there for 10 minutes and think about what you did.” Bullshit, the kid will be sitting there thinking about the cartoon he watched that morning, the game he wants to play with his friend later, the swings at the park, and so on.

DarlingRhadamanthus's avatar

I have not read every post….but I agree with @Adirondackwannabe and @SpatzieLover…When a child acts out that way at someone’s house…and it is not at all like he behaves normally, something is not quite right.

Even if all it is, is that he cannot stand his aunt (secretly or otherwise) and really hates being left there (and would really want to just be with you), there is a disconnect here. I think that the tantrums are unexpressed things that he needs to tell you about being at the aunt’s house.

More than the punishment (which addresses the symptoms) I would also try to find out the cause for this behavior which is so “not like him” behavior. And, I wouldn’t leave him at auntie’s house anymore….until he got older, or you figured out why he was doing what he was doing.

Hope this sheds some insight. (Have always appreciated yours.)

tom_g's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate: “That attitude kind of sickens me. Punishing a child after the fact is no different than punishing a criminal after the fact.”

<unhelpful sarcasm I should probably delete>
Here we go. Developmental, developshmental! They’re just adults in small bodies! An eye for eye! Scientists, shut the hell up!
</unhelpful sarcasm I should probably delete>

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@tom_g No, they’re not adults in small bodies, which is why I also can’t stand it when parents get down on eye level with their kittle kids and talk to them like adults. Children are children, but they do have to learn right from wrong, and time outs are not going to do it with a major issue like destroying an expensive possession.

They will learn the boundaries from the types of punishment they receive in regards to different types of their behavior. They’re not adults, but they DO remember what it was like, that one time, when they did “this”, and “this” is what happened because of it.

Edit: yeah, you probably should. But you didn’t. Oh well.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@DarlingRhadamanthus He goes there voluntarily. He’s never ‘left there’.

tom_g's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate: “but they do have to learn right from wrong, and time outs are not going to do it with a major issue like destroying an expensive possession”

Couldn’t agree more. My kids are developing a nice sense of right and wrong that corresponds with their brain development. I have never – and will never – hit my kids or put them in a “time out”.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir But I wonder now if he feels like he should be there?

JLeslie's avatar

I have not read the responses, so this might be a repeat, but I would try to figure out why he does not like being with your aunt. His acting out means something I think. Also, I find it incredibly sweet that he goes along with selling his toys to pay for the damage, although I assume he will not have to sell all of them.

It would be best if she delivered the punishment at the moment the event is happening, but of course him knowing you will be told when he misbehaves is probably just as good. I think him being aware you are dissappointed and the behavioris unnacceptable is enough, if he is upset about having dissappointed you. If he seems to not give a damn, then other consequences might be necessary. I don’t like food as a punishment, so I would not pick the ice cream, but maybe no tv, or having to sit by himself for a short time alone. He also should apologize to your aunt for raising his voice and not using words to explain what he wanted (unless he is not good at articulating himself yet). I guess having him think through his actions, and what he could do better next time.

Blackberry's avatar

I was under the impression kneeling down and talking to a child in a calm, but stern rational manner was widely accepted as a good parenting practice. I would have liked more of that instead of feeling like I was under the foot of an angry authoritarian…..

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@SpatzieLover Hmm…we’ve had all kinds of different morning arrangements since we’re flexible..I suppose there was a time (long ago) when he did go there because I had to leave early and that was that…but that’s not how it is now…as I said, he wakes up with us, plays with his brother until Ark goes to eat and then he asks if he can go to my aunt’s or perhaps he’s just used to it by now…I ask him if he wants to eat with me upstairs, he says no…I assume this is because he can’t watch cartoons here or eat for an hour or generally behave badly.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@tom_g I don’t hit my kids. I don’t slap my kids. I don’t punch my kids. I don’t beat my kids. I don’t whip my kids.

I spank my kids when the behavior calls for it. And that’s not the same as hitting. I’m the last person that would ever abuse a child. If you actually knew me as a person, instead of some random internet avatar, you’d know that.

If this sort of idiocy is where the conversation is going to go, then I’m out.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Yeah, this isn’t the spank or no spank thread. We’ve had plenty of those.

pshizzle's avatar

No dessert until the tv gets repaired, no toys, earlier bedtime, etc.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@pshizzle There is no dessert, as such. No toys isn’t something I’m looking for. Earlier bedtime is going to happen now anyway since he’s starting kindergarten in September and I’m getting him adjusted to a different timeline.

JLeslie's avatar

I very very rarely had punishments as a child that meant taking away a privilage or being alone. I grew up to care about people, and I am a big time rule follower, and I fear consequences. People who think children will grow up to be hellians without severe consequence are mistaken, depending on the child. My husband and I both had this type of upbringing. We hated to dissappoint our parents, hated feeling we had done something unacceptible. Our parents talking to us about our bad behavior was enough to change our behavior in almost every instance. My husband also always cares about doing the right thing, it is one of the things I love about him. We have internal reasons for being good, the external threats are not as much a part of our every day life.

If you are sure he likes going to your aunts, then maybe not allowing him to go to her place until he has done the steps to make it up to her? An apology, maybe it could be a note he writes, you can help him write it, and he could draw a picture. Again, I think the act of writing it down, even if you write it, and he presenting it and also verbally stating why he is sorry, will help him think it through. Maybe think before he does something like this again. And, I would emphasize to him that if he is upset or angry with her he can always tell you anything when he sees you later, but he cannot ruin her property or throw a tantrum. He will never get what he wants or be heard throwing a tantrum.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@JLeslie I know he will dread apologizing to her but this is part of our ongoing conversation about responsibility. We just recently started talking about how, yes, sometimes apologizing is hard to do but it simply MUST be done asap when you did something wrong and that getting used to doing so will help him along in life. He’s great at talking about most stuff with me especially when it means revealing he’s scared or uncomfortable.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

You guys, seems like there are a lot of parents around here. Why are you treating my second q of the day like chopped liver? LOL.

JLeslie's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir He is so adorable. Both of your children are.

tom_g's avatar

If it wasn’t an expensive item that had been scratched, how would this play out? Say, he had scraped the wall with something sharp or had drawn on the wall? Does he know the real value of money and possessions? Is it possible that he was unlucky enough to have expressed himself in a way that happened to destroy something adults consider very valuable? Do you get a sense that he is already aware that there is some serious disappointment or anger about how he behaved? Has the conversation progressed to what he could do in the future instead of destroying property? I suspect that in taking this as seriously as you appear to be (I would too), he may have already learned something.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@JLeslie Ah, yes…lol, I forget some of you see their pics every day on FB and my posts…i try to pretend no one knows me that much on Fluther, lol…then you remind me :)

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@tom_g He has drawn on walls, I welcome that kind of thing. I suppose you can say that, when compared to my other relatives, I welcome many things that they’d consider ‘problematic’. However, what he does know is that all of his caretakers can be different in what they expect of him and that he must respect the rules when he’s on their floors. He knows we might not agree about certan things but we agree that rules are rules. He knows money exists and that things cost money and that we work to make money but he doesn’t know (or need to know, imo) much more than that. He is aware that my aunt is angry, that my mom is reproachful but he’s waiting for my final say. The conversation about this incident hasn’t yet occurred. It will happen tonight.

JLeslie's avatar

It seems he is adorable in every way, and he has you as a good example, modeling good behavior. He knows what he did was wrong already. He just needs to know what he is supposed to do instead next time in my opinion. I think children, and I should add I don’t have children, have trouble sometimes figuring out what they should do to be heard. We need to help them learn the right way, not just punish the wrong way. They might be having trouble figuring out what to do.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@JLeslie Many of us on here are under the assumption that he’s doing this in response to something. I don’t know if he is though I will probe the subject. I think he is pushing her, metaphorically, to see how much he can get away with. This is why it’s beyond me why she thinks to blame me for this behavior when I wouldn’t ever tolerate that kind of thing, in the first place.

JLeslie's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Yeah, that goes along with what I said above, that it would be better if the consequence was given more immediately and by her. I understand if she feels odd or unsure about doling out a consequence. Some people are very uneasy disciplining other people’s children. Maybe talk to her about what punishment you would like her to do when he acts up, and let your son know that next time his punishment will be given by his aunt when he acts up.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@JLeslie I suppose I will ask her what she thinks the punishment should be. I am going to go examine the damn TV in the evening before Alex and I talk to Alexey. Alexey will come with us to look at the damage again.

bob_'s avatar

Another vote for no TV for a long time.

I’m never having kids.

wundayatta's avatar

@Pandora I think it’s wonderful if everyone tells the child they are lovable, but I don’t think that if someone outside the nuclear family doesn’t tell them, that it will be a problem, so long as the nuclear family says they love the child.

I would give anything for my parents to have hugged me and told me they loved me. I never got no hugs until long after it mattered.

@WillWorkForChocolate “Punishing a child after the fact is closing the proverbial barn door after the horse is stolen.”

That attitude kind of sickens me. Punishing a child after the fact is no different than punishing a criminal after the fact.

I guess it comes down to learning theory. I don’t expect a child to be born knowing right and wrong, so I give them a pass on punishment the first time, so long as they learn from the experience.

A criminal is quite different. They can reasonably be expected to have learned right from wrong by the time they commit the crime. Although, if they have not gotten a decent education, perhaps they should get some leniency, so long as they learn from the experience.

I give my kids one chance for free. If there were a second time, then they would receive a more serious consequence. There has never been a second time of anything serious. Sure, my son kicked his sister again and was sent to timeout. But he was four years old.

I believe one should try to train one’s kids before they get into trouble, rather than waiting until they get into trouble and then punishing them in order to teach them. If you have never trained them then how do you expect them to know? Are they supposed to pick it up by osmosis? They’re little kids for gosh sake! Alexey is only five years old!!!!! There is no need for punishment of the corporal type. There is no need for “consequences.” What there is a need for is to make sure he understands what he did wrong and that he learns a better way to deal with the situation.

If he ever did it again—then he’d have some serious consequences to deal with. It’s just not necessary this time around. He’s probably scared enough as it is. He is surely beginning to understand what he has done and how it has affected others. Maybe not in those terms. He might understand it in an emotional way. It is a parent’s job to make sure he understands it in an intellectual way.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@bob_ Yes, if you care for all your possessions to remain as they are, then sure don’t have kids.

JLeslie's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Well, I meant more that she an do what you feel is appropriate the next time he acts up. She might need specific direction from you. The types of punishment that are acceptable.

I still think it sounds like overall he is a good child who behaves. So, having to go through the motions with mommy to see the damage he did, knowing you are not happy with his behavior will likely deter him in the future. Or, did you say he just continues to act badly with your aunt no matter what you try? If so, maybe he can not go to her apartment unless he behaves, his choice.

bob_'s avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I’m also not wild about “he’d lie down on the street in a tantrum or throw a bottle at a passing car” type of situations. For more, see here.

JLeslie's avatar

I think @wundayatta and I are more or less in the same frame of mind.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@JLeslie She lives with us. She has the basement apartment. He is with us on the 2nd floor. He just goes down there at will. He’s behaved crazily with her before, yes and I told him that if he can not behave himself, she will send him upstairs and he will be with us but she never sends him upstairs so I suppose that doesn’t work. (thought of course she knows she can send him upstairs. It’s like she wants to protect him from me, from my disciplining and when he misbehaves, she just wants to punish me. I think I just had an epiphany. @bob_ Yeah, but that’s only if you’re the kind of parent my aunt is, which is incapable of discipline.

El_Cadejo's avatar

“Yeah, but that’s only if you’re the kind of parent my aunt is, which is incapable of discipline”
@Simone_De_Beauvoir so why do you allow your child to be in that type of environment?

JLeslie's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Oh. Then she is the relative he gets away with crazy shit, and he does not have to pay for breaking anything and either do you. She is the adult he is the 5 year old. She is not acting in an appropriate manner to deal with a 5 year old. Just sayin’.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@uberbatman Because, contrary to popular belief, I don’t hate my aunt, she’s family. She’s a good addition to my parenting village, in some ways. She lives with me (do people just not see that when I write it) and is considered as much a part of everything as my mom. She was great with them when they were little, she exposes them to Russian culture, she makes cookies with them and teaches them how to sew or whatever. She is just not good at disciplining.

tom_g's avatar

(probably heard too much from me already)

I’m leaning towards…
1. Have that wrap up conversation with your son. He’s probably learned all he can about this situation now and tonight when you finish.
2. Deal with the real problem – the people in the basement apartment who spend time with your kids but do not understand the type of behavior that you and your partner expect from your child. Some people (parents-in-law, for example) feel that if they are caring for the child for the day, their rules apply.

keobooks's avatar

Here is a simplified money jar thing.

Give him allowance, but put some in the jar and some to him. Let him see what he is NOT getting because he owes the money. Whatever money he gets goes into the jar (which you keep when money isn’t going into it.) When the jar is full or at whatever amount you set, he gives the jar to his aunt.

It’s not that complicated. Its an extremely natural consequence in our society. Stuff costs money. If you break stuff, you pay for it. If you don’t break stuff you get to keep your money for yourself.

If you broke your sister’s television, would your not eating ice cream for two weeks or not buying yourself stuff make it better between you and your sister? Of course not! You’d have to pay your sister for what you broke. You’re doing it right now.

Why not make the consequences of his actions a reflection of reality? If this system is too complicated think of some simpler way on your own to make “paying back” something real.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@keobooks She’s not my sister. She’s my aunt. I do think implementing chores is a good thing. I can pay him for his chores (only for this period, since I don’t agree with paying for chores) and put all his money into the debt jar, which when it reaches a symbolic $20 or whatever, he can give to her as a follow up to his formal apology.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I spoke to my mom a bit about this. She says that, iho, he goes down there because he does like to hang out with her and because there are less rules. He acts out more because when she does discipline him, it seems so unfair to him (since he’s not used to her doing that) that he tries to ruin stuff on purpose, just to show her he’s mad. She, too, has told my aunt countless times to send him upstairs and that whatever consequences come from not disciplining him will be on her head and all my aunt says is that she feel sorry for Alexey when he starts to cry (manipulation victim, told you).

JLeslie's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Aw. It’s so cute. I can understand why she has trouble disciplining him. It made me smile when I read your last answer. I’m sure it is frustrating for you as the parent. Just remember he behaves well with everyone else, he just knows with his great aunt specifically he can get away with things. That makes her special in a way. Since he is fully aware of good behavior, I am sure he will grow out of even this bad behavior with your aunt as he matures. Of course you should still have expectations of him to behave at all times, and he should be aware of that, you cannot control your aunt, and it seems you believe overall she is a positive influence. I wouldn’t over worry about I think. Unless it happens all the time and gets very out of control. Just my opinion.

JLeslie's avatar

This is why if I had a child who was very undisciplined I would be screwed. I think kids are cute and clever even when they misbehave. LOL.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I don’t think either of your two options are too harsh. After explaining to him how his mistakes impact the whole family to the point you and his dad are responsible, even financially tell him it’s a small thing for a child to go without something like ice cream and you expect him to bear the loss of those treats without anger just as you and his dad will be bearing losses of other things until the debt to the aunt is paid (whether you actually buy her a tv or not).

Not going to his aunt’s care for awhile is definitely reasonable too. It will be an experience for him to learn people’s trust and company sometimes take time to re earn. Hopefully your aunt won’t fold, throw you guys under the bus and make out like it’s because of you Alexey can’t visit her for awhile.

MissAusten's avatar

Sorry if this is repetitive, but I only skimmed the other answers!

I have two boys, six and seven years old, and can tell you exactly how I’d handle this. First, I would have a serious conversation with my son right in front of the damaged television. We would talk about how he’d feel if someone ruined something of his, and he’d apologize to the aunt. Since expecting a five year old (who probably doesn’t understand the value of money yet) to pay for an expensive item like a television is unreasonable, I’d do as other suggested and have him do other chores for the aunt. Maybe one or two small jobs a day over the course of a month.

I would also explain that a new TV costs a lot of money and that because we had to pay to replace the TV we would not be able to do other things for a while, like go to movies, go out to eat, or whatever is appropriate for your situation.

I know my own two boys can be impulsively destructive. They are too young to always stop and think about what they are doing, so when they do something and it creates a certain reaction, like scratching a surface or peeling something apart or whatever, they become so interested in it that they keep it up. Only when someone freaks out or, if they’re old enough, they stand back and see the extent of what they’ve done, do they begin to understand the enormity of their actions.

As for the aunt, she probably should be limited in the amount of time she spends supervising your son. He has clearly figured out her rules are different and is taking advantage. His behavior for her will get harder to manage the older he gets. We’ve gone through this exact situation with my father-in-law. He has always let our kids do whatever they want because, when they were small, it was cute. Now they are older, and it isn’t so cute. When another adult is around, they behave because they know they can’t get away with things. When they are alone with their Papa, however, they walk all over him. My husband and I know Papa will never change, so rather than let the situation go on we’ve quietly stopped leaving him alone with the kids for even a short amount of time. It’s not ideal, but it was necessary to stop those bad habits in their tracks.

As for replacing the TV, as the parent I’d offer to do it but at the same time make it clear I’d do what I could to prevent something similar happening again. In other words, “Here’s your new TV, and our son will not be allowed here to possibly ruin this one.”

edited to add: If you have your son do chores for the aunt, you should consider staying there to supervise. It sounds like she may not follow through with the chores, and you certainly want to be consistent with this.

DarlingRhadamanthus's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir…Please, I didn’t mean that you would “leave him” as if you simply didn’t care. I really didn’t intend that sort of meaning. What I meant was simply that you take him to your aunt’s…and you leave…so he is left there with her.

It’s very obvious that you care….and you say he goes of his own free will. I would wait for a time when he is calm and maybe playing and simply ask him a few questions. And as @MissAusten stated above…it may be just that he is testing the boundaries of your aunt. She may simply give him more free rein and he is doing what comes naturally for a five year old.

Hope this clarifies…things. Please know that I didn’t mean leaving as in dumping him with your aunt as you went on your merry way elsewhere.

JLeslie's avatar

@bob_ :) I know, I am like the aunt in question. LOL. Suh-cker <said in a high pitched voice>.

Judi's avatar

I have not read the 168 answers yet, but have you considered a nanny cam to see what his triggers are?

Aethelflaed's avatar

Another thing to talk to him and your aunt about would be which of her rules he has to follow. For instance, if she says that ponytails are for girls, is that a rule? It might be in his eyes. So then when you say that Alexey should follow her rules, but not that one, because that one’s not up to her, it seems like inconsistency. Maybe you could talk with her about what rules she has over there so that everyone knows exactly what is and isn’t expected of him when he’s at her place.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@MissAusten That was really helpful – especially because you’re confident in your answer. @DarlingRhadamanthus Oh no! No worries, I wasn’t mad. I know you, c’mon. @Judi Well, I joked about that with my husband earlier today but yeah I don’t think that’s what’s going to happen. @Aethelflaed It’s not like I make a deal out of that being a rule or that she does, that’s more of an opinion kind of thing – I tell him everyone has their opinions and to listen to his own and to not take to heart what others say if they can’t provide a good reason for their kind of thinking. So far, she hasn’t yet been able to tell him why he can’t have ponytails or braids other than the cliched one.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

I would add having the boy watch as the aunt takes a sledge hammer to one of his favorite toys, and then ask him how he felt about it, and tell him that his how others feel when you damage their property.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central Teaching vindication to a 5yr old is a great idea~

Hibernate's avatar

So many answers in such a short time. Seems people like you question ^^

If I was you I’d first try to figure out why he behaves like this and then decide on a punishment. Maybe he acts like this because he wants more space of freedom. I don’t know.
It takes time to find out what’s going on but don’t be too harsh.

tom_g's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central: “I would add having the boy watch as the aunt takes a sledge hammer to one of his favorite toys, and then ask him how he felt about it, and tell him that his how others feel when you damage their property.”

Make sure he has been deprived food, water, and sleep for 48 hours, and duct tape him to a chair before doing this.
Wait – what? You weren’t trying to figure out how to turn a 5-year-old into an asshole psychopath?

(Please tell me this was a joke.)

Meego's avatar

Holy answers! I’m way late, I tried to read most of the answers lol.

My daughter is 16. One time when she was 5 she begged and begged me to take this little cherished glass Teddy I had as she wanted to carry it around. Her actions were not malicious but it reminds me of the idea of boundaries.

Anyway I said “fine” and 2 seconds out the door on the flight of cement stairs she dropped it :/ what should I have expected really.

Anyway the story is told all the time and I always talk about how she broke my most important cherished Teddy. She has since then been paying me back at mothers days and so on trying to replace the bear.

Ok so whats the morale of the story? Well you don’t need to take anything away, you just need to show how and why those things are important to others.

Ask him how he would feel if it was his favorite thing that was broken. It is obviously important to teach him in a non negative manner. Use it as a learning experience and in way that will click with his personality.

Also I think someone needs to talk to the aunt not the boy and ask her what is she doing so differently than everyone else and what she could do to also change his behaviour. If he doesn’t act like that with anyone else then she is most likely the root of the problem.

Negative punishment isn’t probably going to teach positive behaviour.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Now that it’s evening..I’ve talked a bit to Alexey and to my aunt. She gave me a sour face about the TV but didn’t mention anything and I told her Alexey will be dining at my mom’s until he’s ready to come look at the damage he’s done. I also told him we’ll be having a longer conversation about it later tonight but that we’re making some changes to our morning routine to help prepare him for kindergarten and to make sure he eats in a timely fashion in the morning – he will be staying with us all morning from this point on and can still go there on the weekends when they feel less rushed. I also did say no ice cream for a week, that was the most immediate punishment that sunk in for him. He didn’t whine about it which impressed me. He also said he remembered a talk we had about responsibility (that I mentioned earlier) and that it’s important to apologize for things we do.

Meego's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I think your doing the right thing. You know your child the best and what you decide usually is the best. It proves you want the best as you came to Fluther for advice ;)
It sounds like it will work out fine.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

So we had ‘the talk’. It went really well. He understands that he will have no ice cream for a week (marked on calendar), that he will do chores for which he will get paid and put it into a debt jar (made jar, made label with him, talked about what a debt is), that he will eat up here from now on and not take an hour to eat breakfast. We talked about why he does what he does when he’s there and whether he feels negative things towards her. He said he does when she yells at him loudly to eat and that he just wants to get back at her for doing that. He said that he remembers me telling him how that’s not okay to do to anyone (so many of you who made a link to whether he found something in my words and stuck to it were right) but of course I told him that ruining a person’s stuff isn’t good retaliation. I reminded him that I said he can just come upstairs if she yells too much and that he didn’t. I said that he can be there during the weekends in the mornings but if I hear about one more incident, that privilege will too be taken away until further notice. We didn’t talk much about not buying any new toys, it was kind of implied that we won’t be in that mood for awhile. He also apologized to my aunt and repeated his resolution to the entire family. The talk ended well with reminders of love and lots of kisses. Onward. Thanks everyone for your help!

rooeytoo's avatar

It seems as if your result is positive and that is a good thing. And I admire the way you and your mate have handled the situation.

But I have to say what I find interesting about this entire discussion is how many wanted to blame your aunt for your child’s misbehaving???? I know, I know, but back in the good old days when I was a kid, if I broke something that belonged to someone else, it was my deed and no one would have dreamt of suggesting that my breaking someone else’s property was anyone’s fault but my own. The breaker is the guilty one, not the breakee! Interesting how times have changed. And I am not implying that it is bad, just observing how different it is.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@rooeytoo Well that’s why it’s great to have your perspective. I think we recognize now, more than we did in previous times, that children (or anyone for that matter) don’t exist in a vacuum and that their caretakers are responsible (to a degree) for every situation they find themselves in. And it’s not like we told Alexey that she too was to blame but I can see clearly that she provided an environment where that kind of thing could be expected to happen sooner or later.

augustlan's avatar

[mod says] This is our Question of the Day!

Excellent discussion. 181 answers leads to a great result!

YARNLADY's avatar

This is one of the best discussions I have seen on Fluther. Thank you for the fine words, everyone above.

I also believe the aunt was not properly supervising the child, and therefore should accept most of the blame. When a child that young (who is usually well behaved) acts out, it is nearly always due to lack of supervision.

I support arranging a meeting with the Aunt and the child to work out a way for the child to “work off” the misdeed.

talljasperman's avatar

First check him out with a doctor… to see if anything is wrong… You can also ask your son why he is acting out… If that fails then write a letter to Dr. Phil.

blueiiznh's avatar

One of the gifts in all this is that you are teaching him that communication in a calm fashion is key. This will help build a characteristic and value that he should verbally express his feelings as opposed to acting them out. He will feel safe that he can express his feelings with you and ultimately with the person that may be creating the ill feelings. This will help him go far in life.
It also helps one accept their role and responsibility in their actions when they know you are caring and supportive as you are.

Awesome to hear this moving in the direction it is. Thank you for sharing.

wundayatta's avatar

To me, it seems likely that he didn’t know this was an unacceptable response to the provocation. He knew it wasn’t acceptable for people to yell at him, but he was unprepared about what to do when someone yelled at him. I think he must understand he has alternatives besides getting revenge, now.

It’s an expensive way to learn a lesson, but think of it this way. You’re saving $1200 a month by keeping him at home instead of in a daycare center. He probably would have learned how to deal with problems like this in daycare (a good daycare center), but even if it’s a $1000 TV, it’s still less than a month of daycare.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@talljasperman Why on earth would I take him to the doctor? And Dr. Phil is an idiot.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@wundayatta Well, no, he was given an acceptable way out of there, he just forgot when it came to using it. And, again, he’s not at home, he’s at pre-school.

mattbrowne's avatar

There are many great short-term solutions mentioned above. If you really like to get to the bottom of this you might want to try another approach as well:

1) Identify the feelings of your son while he’s staying with your aunt (simply ask him)
2) Identify his unmet needs

As an example there could be unmet needs of your son such as a need for contribution, challenge, self-expression, spontaneity etc. It’s not easy to identify them. But feelings can give us hints. You could also ask: What else did you need when you stayed with your aunt? What was missing?

I find the following inventory quite useful:

http://www.cnvc.org/Training/needs-inventory

keobooks's avatar

Glad all went well and still seems to be going well.

I hope you were kidding about the sledge hammer, @Hypocrisy_Central. My father took a hammer to my favorite toy when I was 7 because I left a red crayon in my pocket and it went into the laundry. It was one of the most vivid and worst memories of my childhood. I’m almost 40 and I still have flashbacks about it. A big part of why I don’t get along with my father is because of that day. I don’t think anything positive came out of it.

If you were joking, its not funny because some parents actually do stuff like that. If you were serious, it’s one of the most sick and sadistic punishments you can do to a kid without laying a finger on them.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@keobooks I don’t think anyone took that comment seriously or paid it any actual attention other than the criticism it deserved.

keobooks's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Well, when I heard it, it made me think about the event. Like I said, I still can’t get over it. As I said, it was one of the worst moments of my childhood and so I had to mention.

If someone thinks that stuff is over the top silly insane exaggerated parenting, it’s not. Some parents are just crazy enough to do it. And to people who have actually experienced it, it’s not funny at all.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@keobooks I completely agree, on many levels.

Meego's avatar

@keobooks response is a prime example of why it’s much better to use a positive method than a negative route. Communication is key, placing the fear of god into a child does exactly that it teaches nothing but fear. We should all remember that parenting also means to teach.

And you want to teach your child all the good qualities not the negative ones.

Awesome question!

Judi's avatar

I still think you need to figure out and understand the triggers. Maybe it is yelling, maybe it is disrespect, what ever it is, NOW is the time to teach him the appropriate responses to these occasions.
My kids are grown but I had one that was a holy terror in school. (Mommy guilt, hindsight wisdom to follow.) Now I realize that although my oldest daughter was like me, a free spirit, able to change plans on a dime, flexible, and adventurous, my two younger children panicked, at the unexpected, surprising sounds, and disorganisation. They needed routine and predictability, and I didn’t give it to them much.
The price I paid was out of control kids. My daughter was able to manage to keep her outbursts at home and put on a pretty face in public. My son however, ended up in juvenile hall for throwing a chair at a teacher in Jr High.
My kids had a lot of other contributing factors, (the suicide of their biological father, later diagnosed bi-polar etc) but if I would have been more in tune with their needs, instead of assuming that they were just like my oldest daughter, I might have helped them avoid a lot of misery.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Judi Of course, teaching him to control his anger or to rather not even get angry in the first place is a continuous conversation in our household. Thank you for sharing your experiences.

Judi's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir ; I guess what I’m saying is, I wish I would have understood what it was that made my son angry and helped to accommodate it more. Anger is usually a manifestation of fear.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Judi I think, for him, it’s just about the most accessible emotion, the least likely to involve self-control or time to think. Children don’t always know what to do with their anger but I think it’s fine that he has it, that he feels it. I don’t think he’s scared of my aunt.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@keobooks I hope you were kidding about the sledge hammer, @Hypocrisy_Central. I could appease people and say “big joke Ha ha”, given the option of making them grab the banister and getting a few being off the table, the hammer is a very serious option. Pr 23:13 assures one that correction with a rod will not kill him. If the infraction is severe enough, so should the punishment. He don’t have a part-time job, to pay it back. If he has an allowance, he would not pay it off before the aunt’s death. He is to young to work it all off doing projects at her house. He doesn’t have a big screen to replace it with. The only other option to really make him see how much of a butt nugget he was would be for me to ground him 180 days with one hour of TV a day, no Internet, three hours a week outside play but not with anyone not in the family, and a boat load of extra chores. When he got done, he would not even think of risking the pilfering of a single cookie from the cookie jar.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central Did you just pull a bible reference for an allusion to violence? Irony!

SpatzieLover's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central I seriously pray you do not procreate.

Judi's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir ; I didn’t mean to suggest he was sacred of your aunt. sorry if it came out like that.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@SpatzieLover I’m about to start praying myself and I’m an atheist.
@Judi I didn’t take it offensively, at all. Just trying to figure out whether what you said applies. I do think much anger has to do with fear.

tom_g's avatar

@SpatzieLover – I still think @Hypocrisy_Central is just playing. He must be, right? Anyway, @Hypocrisy_Central – it’s not funny. Seriously.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@tom_g There are people that really believe that sh!t. I think he’s one of them. <shutters> My dad never laid a hand on me, but that does not make my childhood memories less tortured

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@SpatzieLover @Hypocrisy_Central I seriously pray you do not procreate. Hint, don’t take any line bets on that happening in Vegas. Do you condone murder? I would assume you don’t. Then I would ask, if you are for the death penalty? Now if you are, as many who would think swatting a child a couple of times_if and when_ the infraction warranted it was tantamount to murder. Why? Many people who don’t condone murder are all for the death penalty, because they believe there are some crimes that even if the person sat in prison 60yr for, it is still not enough. Some infractions are serious enough that a couple of swats hone in the seriousness. When they are older and want to take the car without asking, just make it easy, leave the keys on the driver’s seat.

It is not the stuff, I would tell my children that, stuff can be replaced. The stuff is someone else’s stuff so they should treat the stuff of others as if it were their stuff because they don’t want anyone doing to their stuff what they did other’s stuff. They will learn easy or hard, that their character goes a lot to how much trust and respect they are going to get overall. They will learn not do disrespect other or their property. If I felt there was an issue with an adult, I will take care of that, they are kids, and in the pecking order of life, kids to not out rank adults. You might want to elevate kids as equal as adults but you will never catch me buying into that gobbledegook.

tom_g's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central – What happened to you?

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@tom_g @Hypocrisy_Central – What happened to you? The same thing that happened to millions of others, I woke up, got dressed, and had breakfast. After which I worked on paying the bills or earning money to do just that.

Blackberry's avatar

Does anyone have that guy at work that is ignored no matter what he says…..?

wundayatta's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central I think @tom_g meant what happened to you as a child? Did you get corporal punishment? If so, of what kind? How many times a month between the ages of five and eleven? How else were you disciplined? I think you knew what he meant, anyway.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@wundayatta @Hypocrisy_Central I think @tom_g meant what happened to you as a child? Oooooohhhh…….that…… Then I guess I should have said; ”I woke up, got dressed and went about the business of school, like millions of other kids”. As a kid we were poor so there was no iPods, Wii, Internet, computer, personal TV, mp3 player, etc. to confiscate. I remember once having to wash my mouth out with soap, my no one ever says anything about that. What if I would have swallowed the chemicals, or what would it had done to my gums if used a lot. I am sure there were other punishments for things, but they were so small that I don’t remember them or exactly what was done. The worse rule breaking and infractions that caused me corporeal punishment I certainly remember, and because I got a few minutes of pain for it, and it wasn’t anything that had me writhing in agony for hours, I knew it was much serious than the other stuff, and I never repeated it again. There were times I warranted a can of whoopass opened up on me and it didn’t happen. All total I can really only remember getting whooped maybe 6 times tops from 11yr down, in that time I did way more crap that was against the rules. I did not harbor resentment towards my mother, I didn’t hate her, it didn’t strain out relationship, it help make it better. To the day she died she was my true consigliere, life coach, and Sherpa.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central But it apparently did leave you with the barbaric idea that there is nothing wrong with teaching a child to behave by hitting.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@YARNLADY @Hypocrisy_Central But it apparently did leave you with the barbaric idea that there is nothing wrong with teaching a child to behave by hitting. Well, that is an opinion. I could say those scared to lay a little belt leather if and when the infraction warrants, were lackadaisical parents that will only get serious when their child is looking at 15 to life in an orange jump suit, but that would just be my opinion. Opinions are like rain drops, there are everywhere. ;-)

YARNLADY's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central I would be interested to see the statistics that prove a loved child that is not hit will end up as you suggest. I am fairly sure the opposite is true.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@YARNLADY Just as I would love to see the statistics that show a loved childed who recieved some swattings grew up resentful, bitter, hating their parents, and solving everything with violence.

snowberry's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central What I see is that there are not too many people who think you’d be a very good parent…Regardless of your childhood, I’m inclined to agree.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@snowberry Maybe the thought is mutual, but then I guess there won’t be any joint play dates. They can time out all they want, I care enough about any child of mine to make sure they get it and play attention. Anyone want to do it with a nauthy chair, let them. unless anyone want to pay my salary which is pretty high and make themselve my boss they have zero say, no sway, and if they don’t like it [redacted]

rooeytoo's avatar

This is so interesting, today we ate at an outdoor cafe (well fish and chips joint) and there was a mother with 2 kids at the table beside us. One was in a pram, the other a 4 or 5 year old who was jumping around, being noisy and annoying other diners. The mother repeatedly told her to stop and the child ignored. Finally the kid stepped off the sidewalk and into the path of a oncoming car. Everyone reacted, jumped up, etc. Thankfully the car was moving slowly, and it stopped, the kid came back and mom proceeded to tell her how she almost was hurt and must listen to her and all that. Everyone at our table (all over 65) and others around the place as well made a comment of some sort that the kid needed a swat on the bottom. But instead mom had this great intellectual conversation with recalcitrant child who was fiddling, jiggling and jumping around during the entire time.

Guess it is a difference in age and what the current guru’s of parenting have to say. But truly my entire generation and how many before received swats when deserved. Are there any more maladjusted, disengaged, estranged from society members of humanity than there are now in this oh so more enlightened generation??? I don’t think so.

I’m with you HC, but we are in the minority!

JLeslie's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central I think it is Judge Mathis, I hope I have not confused wich judge, who wound up in juvy as a teen, ajd then later went to college on some sort of grant or something. Anyway, one thing he said in an interview was when he got to college he realized no one is thinking or going to jail on college campuses, where he grew up it was an every day occurrence. The way you think is a totally different world than other people’s world. Both worlds really exist. I don’t think my parents ever thought if we don’t hit her she will wind up in jumpsuit. I don’t even think @rooeytoo is thinking that, she can correct me, I think she is just thinking those kids need to behave for their own good and out of respect for others around them.

cazzie's avatar

Well, my mom hit me with a wooden spoon and even broke one over my butt once. I remember having a bruise or two on my butt or hip. My father NEVER hit me. It was maybe two, three or four smaks and she always made sure I knew why she was smacking me with the spoon. I remember once trying to put a pillow down my pants. She´d say things like, “This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you.”, which I always thought was pretty lame. I would never use anything but my hand and it would only be once. I think that using a belt or a stick is horrible.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central You know what? (aside from ‘stop pooping on my thread!’) I don’t need statistics showing that children shouldn’t be spanked. I have two very important reasons that are enough: 1) I was spanked and it scarred me and made me hate my parents. 2) I teach non-violence to my children and not hypocrisy. Case closed. Also, don’t have time at work to go through all the studies that show negative side effects like increased aggression, more prone to violence, inability to solve problems without getting out of control, lower self esteem, etc. but there aren’t studies showing how spanking is better than non spanking.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I like how you said “pooping” instead of… well, all the other options. I would never have that kind of restraint. :)

Dutchess_III's avatar

1) You owe her for a new TV. Your son, your responsibility.
2) Never leave him at your aunt’s unsupervised again.
3) As far as discipline, well, it’s too late now, but I would have intimidated the hell out of my child, made him think twice before ever doing that again. Not necessarily by hitting, but there are other ways.

Having said that, there is something wrong, Simone. Your aunt won’t be the last person he does this to, and it will only get worse as he gets older. You’ll be in a position of coming to the school to answer for his bad behavior. Eventually you’ll get calls from the police.

Better get a good grip now, before you lose the chance to altogether.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Dutchess_III Hyperbole much? How could you possibly be so assured that this behavior will escalate to being called to school or by the police? I have no clue why you make these assumptions but I’m guessing you are speaking from some sort of experience that doesn’t really relate to mine. She will not be getting a new TV, we had a good resolution, family-wise, as I stated above. He has stayed with her unsupervised since because he is able to change his behavior and she has, as well. And all without intimidation, can you believe it? But I’ll call you when the police does. You can tell me you told me so. ~

Dutchess_III's avatar

Your child is 5, not 2. Any 5 year old acting that way (lying in a street screaming and throwing a bottle at a car what kind of bottle, anyway?) has a problem.

I’m assuming this will happen because, in a nutshell, you said, “My son is wonderful. There is something my aunt is doing that is causing him to act like a demon. I don’t feel I should punish him very much NO ICE CREAM FOR TWO WEEKS??!! OMG!! because it’s her fault, not his, and I certainly won’t replace her TV! It..isn’t…my…son’s…fault.” The fact that you can’t see that it IS his fault, and yours, tells me it’s a problem. You are responsible for replacing your aunt’s TV.

Before long it will be, “Well, what did that other kid do to make my son try to poke his eye out with a pencil?” and later, “It was his friend’s idea to steal that car, officer!”

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Dutchess_III I do not believe I said anywhere in this thread or any other thread that my kids are beyond reproach since I do not parent that way, whatsoever. I do not consider my children to be the smartest, cutest, bestest kids out there – they’re human beings just like us and all I was saying is that this situation was more complex that just blaming him for it. I certainly did feel I should punish him hence the question and I recommend you stop with drawing this situation to extremes. I am not sure if you’re just trying to antagonize me but I find your yet again hyperbolic statements into the direction of criminality of my child to be pretty ridiculous.

Dutchess_III's avatar

You said your son is “good and kind” and went on to tell us how he said to sell his toys, blah blah blah. What a GREAT kid.

You said, ”(Your aunt) is not very good at disciplining him and has no issue with him manipulating the hell out of every situation with his tears. That’s fine because that is her choice and she needs to bear the fruits of her mistakes ie, it’s her fault.

You said, “my aunt said she expects me to pay for her new TV (which is highly unlikely, but whatever).” You’re not going to do what you should because it isn’t your son’s fault and it’s not yours.

You said it all, Simone. And you’ll be saying it over and over in a thousand ways, every day, for years to come because every situation will be too “complex” to put the blame on him, right where it belongs.

Taking away ice cream for two week is not punishment. Neither is not buying new toys. Taking away TV for a month is much better, and much more appropriate since it’s a TV HE ruined.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Dutchess_III I disagree. Taking away ice cream for a week was not the entire punishment, but perhaps you didn’t read everything I said beyond whatever you interpreted from my details. My child is good and kind, that’s true but that doesn’t mean he’s beyond reproach. My aunt does have to bear the fruit of her mistakes as we all do and by that I didn’t mean the damage to her TV. As to whether I’ll be saying whatever you think over and over, that’s your projection, not what will actually happen. If you’re done, I thank you for you input and you can now move on. I highly recommend that you do.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I think the problem is you don’t really think he did anything all that bad. How much was the TV worth, @Simone_De_Beauvoir? $1,000? $2,000? $3,000? And your son ruined it! But you don’t seem to think it’s that big of a deal! I bet if you were forced to pay for it you’d be thinking something a whole lot stronger than ice cream for a week!

You know, if my child gave my sister that kind of bullshit, even one time, the next time I was getting ready to send him over there I’d be on his level, looking hard into his eyes and telling him that he will respect his aunt and obey her period or there was going to be a world of hurt in store for him and he wouldn’t be going over there again. No one should have to bear the fruit of YOUR CHILD’S hideous behavior, even it it’s temporary behavior, Simone!

Your son is to blame. You owe the woman a new TV.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

You have now repeated yourself 3 times. I have checked the damage on the TV and because it is minimal and she can still view everything perfectly, she no longer expects me to pay for a new one. Period. You can continue to use caption words all you want but unless you actually go through where we eventually ended up with this situation (if you don’t read the thread, I can’t help you), there is nothing more I can say. I did not ask what you would do, I did not ask for a reaction to my parenting which I consider to be excellent – all I wanted was fluther’s help as to what exactly the punishment should be. Period, that should have been the extent of your answer. If you have some ill-consuming need to tower over me with exclamation points and blame, take it elsewhere. You are being ridiculous. I will no longer entertain your words. I do not consider you to be a close enough friend to actually have the audacity to tell me these things in such a tone. Move on.

YARNLADY's avatar

You two need to get a room

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@YARNLADY That would not be consensual. In any way.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir LOL!

Well, then the TV is OK. and she doesn’t expect you to buy her another one. Then that’s the end of this particular story. You lucked out this time. Carry on.

wundayatta's avatar

I think you are doing an excellent parenting job, @Simone_De_Beauvoir. I admire your willingness to put yourself up for criticism on this. I think it shows great strength to be able to allow yourself to be that vulnerable. I’m glad you raised this issue and I’m sorry you’ve gotten so much undeserved criticism.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@wundayatta Hey, thanks! I really appreciate that. I wasn’t really expecting such a response and for the q to strike a cord and to go on and on and on and then I realized..well, perhaps I disclosed too much of what was close to home and didn’t really need random people weighing in but overall I am happy fluther helped so much, for the most part.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I’m surprised too! I would have never pegged @wundayatta as being the type of person who would agree with shifting the blame to the victim!

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Dutchess_III I think you have an issue. You can’t seem to let this go. Might be a good thing to talk over with a psychiatrist. I say that genuinely.

JLeslie's avatar

@Dutchess_III I really do not understand where you are coming from. How could you have read @Simone_De_Beauvoir answers and think she is just shifting blame? She addressed the issue with her son, I am hopeful he will be able to do better the next time something similar arises. He openly discussed with his mother why he did what he did, and understood he was wrong. He will have more constraints on his time with his aunt. And, he lost some privilages (I think it was ice cream, and maybe something else? I don’t remember, and lazy to look). He is usually well behaved, there is no reason to think he will repeat his actions. He is just five years old, he did something out of spite and anger, but sounds remorseful. Give the kid a chance.

MissAusten's avatar

When I was a kid, I once went into my mother’s closet with a pair of scissors and made little cuts in several very nice outfits. Not on the seams where they could be sewn and hidden, either. When my mom later noticed and asked me if I knew anything about it, I lied. She dropped the issue, so I was never disciplined in any way even though I probably ruined at least a few hundred dollars worth of clothes.

It was an awful thing to do, but I never repeated it or anything like it, the police were never called on me at any point in my life, I’ve never needed any kind of professional psychiatric help. Just because a kid does one stupid or destructive thing in childhood (or even a few stupid and destructive things) doesn’t mean there’s something “wrong” with that kid. It just means kids don’t have the same self control and judgment adults should have. Anyone who expects kids to behave like small adults has unreasonable expectations.

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I think you handled it just fine as well. I know exactly what you mean about your aunt bearing part of the responsibility because (like I think I mentioned before) we have a close family member who lets our kids do whatever they want and has been inconvenienced by it as the kids got older.

wundayatta's avatar

In general, I don’t think blaming people helps anyone. Nor do I think most “punishments” work. My goal with my kids is to teach them and help them learn from their mistakes and to help them get on the right track.

The issue here is not the issue of the property. The real issue is how you handle anger towards someone who is more powerful than you. @Simone_De_Beauvoir, in consonance with her beliefs, told her kids never to let injustice go unfought. Or something like that.

So her son felt like he had been treated unjustly. He sought to redress that situation as his mother had taught him. He did it in an inappropriate way.

So two things had to happen. First, he needed to learn how to handle this injustice more appropriately, and second, the injustice had to be dealt with. As far as I can tell, both things happened.

The issue of the damage to property is probably the least of the issues involved here. It’s an issue for negotiation, and it sounds like they negotiated a solution everyone could live with.

I don’t see what more could be done. I see the son as the victim, if you have to see it that way, but I don’t. He was hurt and he dealt with it. The aunt’s attitude led to this behavior, but there’s no point in blaming her, either. I doubt if she knew better about how to properly interact with children so they don’t walk all over you. She didn’t seem to know how to properly set boundaries for him.

If you can’t set boundaries, then people will walk all over you. If you then lash out, you have to expect passive aggressive responses. The aunt was no victim. She was a person who made mistakes. If there is a victim, it is the child, but I don’t think it makes sense to say he was a victim of improper care. People make mistakes. Old people, young people, and even teenagers!

Everyone gets all bent out of shape because of the value of the thing that was damaged. But the nature of the mistake is the same whether it is a $2000 TV or $200 TV. When people maintain that perspective, as I think @Simone_De_Beauvoir did, real learning can happen. And that’s what you want. When you react because of the value of the TV instead of the things that need to be learned, you mostly just make the situation worse. You damage people even further.

I’m sure some people will say that spanking never hurt them, or being grounded or having toys or privileges never hurt them, even if these punishments were severe. They will say they learned their lesson.

I’ll bet @Simone_De_Beauvoir‘s son learned the same lesson much better using her methods. I don’t want my kids to behave because they are afraid of punishment. That just sets them up to misbehave when they think they won’t get caught. I want my children to behave because they figure it’s the right thing to do. I treat my kids with respect and have done so from a very early age. It works.

Punishment may not hurt you (I don’t believe that for a second), but why would you punish instead of teaching, if you achieve your goal using the much less punitive approach? Punitive approaches teach kids anger and fear, not calmness and problem solving.

Like I said, I appreciate @Simone_De_Beauvoir‘s willingness to put herself out there to become a punching bag. We all got a good discussion out of it. It is interesting how different people see the circumstances. I’m sure we’re all convinced that our view has the right of it. We are passionate about this because it is about children and it is about core values. It has implications in many different areas of society. Once again, thanks @Simone_De_Beauvoir.

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