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My DH and I try to follow a gentle discipline approach for both my SS (8 years old) and DD. I find that with my SS, it is often more challenging as he was not raised AP and his mom does not follow AP in her home.

Don't get me wrong, he is usually a very well behaved boy. Its just hard to feel as in-tune with him as I am with my DD. So this is where I need some help.

This past weekend, my SS asked if he could go play at a neighbors house. This is not a little boy that he normally plays with and my DH and I do not know his parents. So I told my SS that he could play with the little boy in the yard where he was currently playing but that we didn't want him to go play in his house because we did not know his parents yet. He knows that the #1 rule for him playing outside is that we must know where he is at all times. We have explained to him about this is a safety issue, and its our job to make sure that he is safe.

Well after a little while I noticed I could not hear him playing, so I went outside to look for him. He was no where to be seen. I had to go to the neighbors house to look for him, and he was sitting in their house playing. I told him it was time to come home. DH asked me where he was, I told him he was at the neighbors house. He asked me if I had said anything to SS, I said no that I was going to let him handle it. He talked to SS about why he was there, what a better approach would have been, and then told him that he would not be able to play outside on Wed (our next visitation day). Normally, SS does not play outside on Wed because by the time he gets home, eats dinner, and does homework it is too late.

SS knew what he had done was wrong, he acknowledged that he disobeyed anyways because he wanted to play in their house. This is a re-occurring theme with him and I feel that he knowingly will break the rules because he knows that the following consequences will not be that harsh. So then it becomes worth it to suffer the consequence so that he gets what he wants.

Am I way off base? Is DH handling things correctly? I worry that this problem will only get worse as he becomes older and that by the time he is a teenager he will not listen to us at all. Thanks for any input
 

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The one thing that came to mind is there a way to make the consequences more immediate than your next visitation?
 

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What is the real consequence of what happened? You lost trust in him to listen to and follow safety rules.

You could explain to him that since your job is to keep him safe, then that is what you are going to have to do. He has shown you through his behavior that he is not responsible enough to play outside without adult supervision, since he can't follow the safety rules. Not a punishment, no negative emotion attached to it, just a matter of practicality. Just as your younger dd would not be able to go outside by herself.

It's challenging, but you could make a point of him not being able to go outside without direct adult supervision until he has sufficiently demonstrated that he is responsible enough to follow safety rules. It does mean a lot of you (or your dh) spending time on the porch watching him, but it should also mean a lot of him coming inside because you need to go to the bathroom, get a drink, answer the phone, tend to dd, whatever.

You could then find ways for him to demonstrate responsibility if he so chooses -- completing a "responsible" chore on his own, whatever. And then he could work up to being responsible for himself outside for periods that begin short (while you run to the bathroom), and get progressively longer.
 
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