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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Terrible title, isn't it?

Here is the deal. We moved to a new house a few years ago. This house is big, as in 4000 square feet. If you are in a room, you cannot really hear to the next room. So, let's say I just go to the bathroom. They can run around the entire house, open doors to closets and anything and yank everything out and dump everything. My 11 yr old is particularly awful about this. I hate admitting his age because his behavior is not ok. He has 3 older siblings who never did this. But, he will get in to a closet or something and yank everything out, just because he wanted it, and takes no accountability for it. For example, after everyone went to bed one night, he decided he wanted the winter blankets. It is already over 80 degrees here. We have two very large, very thick, heavy blankets/comforters. We had washed them up for the warmer weather and put them up. It takes a lot to wash them as they are too big to dry in the dryer and are really pushing the limits on the washer. We got them washed. Got the step ladder out and I managed to get them on the top shelf of the linen closet. In the middle of the night, he got up and pulled the step ladder over and climbed to the top and yanked them down. Then he drug them to his room and used them. When I got up the next day and found the things that fell out of the linen closet when he did it and I look to his room and I see these heavy, king sized comforters by his bed. I asked him why. He said he could not find any other blankets and was cold. I was dumbfounded. I asked him why he didn't want the ones that were already on his bed. He had a 2 comforters and some blankets. He shrugged. I asked him why he didn't consider one of the many many blankets in the linen closet before he yanked these down. "I don't know!"

Also, we had Legos all over the house. Our oldest is 21 yrs old and he used to get lots of Legos. We have 7 children and they have all been getting some Legos every Christmas and birthday all these years. We have way too many, but I know some day, they will split them 7 ways and it won't be way too many. However, we did pack up a portion of the Legos and put them up. 11 yr old drug them back out, without permission. Then he tried to claim the 6 yr old did it. The 6 yr old could not have done it.

But the 11 yr old is not the only one. The 6 yr old is a little delayed. And he will pull stuff out. He is not as bad as the 11 yr old. But then we have a younger child who also gets in to everything. She is as bad as the 11 yr old, except she is young enough to not necessarily know better. And then we have a 13 month old.

I do not spank. I do not want to have to try to install locks on everything all over the house. But it is everything from the fridge to the bedroom closets, to everything. Just caught little girl in the baby's closet and trying to put the clothes on. I go downstairs and find the chocolates that were given to me for Mother's Day are eaten. I also found butter, eggs, and milk out, pours in to a bowl. All this food has to be thrown away.

Please help! Short of just installing locks on the entire house, what can I do?
 

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My first thought is maybe a combination of things. Locks on some doors to minimise the extra work. But also some consequences. 11yo cannot be left alone and needs to accompany you everywhere until he can be left alone without trashing a room. I'd also suggest that, if he makes a mess, his world stops until he cleans it up. With your help if he genuinely can't do something like putting the blankets up high but no playing/eating/going out/anything until it's done. This will be labour intensive in the short-term but you are right, an 11yo should be able to be left alone without making huge messes and leaving them for others.

I'd also have a family meeting and discuss expectations very clearly with everyone.


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There seems to be a lot more going on here. You eluded to the idea that he's "delayed".

But the 11 yr old is not the only one. The 6 yr old is a little delayed. .

Clearly, if there's special needs here, that needs to be addressed appropriately. And spanking won't cure a medical problem.

Is there a known medical/ psychological problem? Is that being addressed?
 
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My oldest is 11 and I can't imagine spanking him or putting locks all over the house because of him.

Your son is old enough to be held accountable, but also to have some input. Put some responsibility and decision making on his shoulders. Maybe it truly didn't occur to him that he could have used the comforters on his bed. Maybe he preferred the bigger comforters. I would ask him about his preferences and put him in charge of making his own bed. If he wants a big comforter, I would put one where he could reach it and leave him in charge of when to use it, and maybe teach him how to wash it too.

As for legos all over the place I would ask him what he plans to do to make sure they are out of reach from his youngest siblings. When my youngest was a toddler, my oldest was 6 and safety was mainly my job; I had a plastic container for each lego set - ziploc bags work well too - and my 6 yo was responsible for making sure that at the end of the day everything was out of reach for the toddler. But your son being older might have good ideas too on how to take responsibility for his legos.

As for the spoiled food, I would teach him to cook if that's his interest. My son has had a cooking book since he was 8 and he can make some pretty awesome desserts - I only need to help him with the oven. You can also teach him how to clean after himself after.

At your son's age, he's way past spankings and locks, and if you (general you) treat them like preschoolers, they will behave like them, sneaking and lying about stuff
 

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The logical consequence is to have them put away the stuff they get out. I would figure out the value of the food that was ruined, and have the child work it off by pulling weeds or scrubbing toilets or something.


I also suggest a radical de-cluttering. 4,000 square feet can hold way more stuff than any family (even a large one) can use.


Does your 11 year old get enough attention? With so many children and so much stuff, could his behavior be acting out for attention?


Second, every single child who can walk needs a chore (or chores). They need to learn a sense of responsible for the home rather than just entitlement.
 
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Sorry I could not respond sooner. They destroyed my computer. Once that happened, we decided to take all technology away pending improvement on their behavior. They were goofing off and the oldest was supposed to move my computer from one table to the next. He was so busy goofing off that he sat the computer on the floor. Literally, the two tables were about 12 feet a part. I was busy on my hands and knees scrubbing the floor and was also trying to wash the table off and get dinner served. They were running around goofing off, refusing to help. This is referring to the 11 yr old (who is now 12 yrs old) and the teenager. The teen was the one who sat it on the floor. And then it got stepped on.

We took the computers. We told them we will establish better life habits and respect for each other before any technology comes back. And that if they are capable enough to sell stuff online, create websites, and do all they do on the internet, then they are capable of clearing a table, picking up their own rooms, finishing their homework.
 

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Wow, it sounds like things are really pretty out of control in your house. What strikes me most is the lack of understanding of how their behaviour affects others ... the refusing to help, the wanton mess-making, the lack of care and attention to valuable possessions. I think that unless your kids develop the ability to put themselves in other people's shoes and think about how those people will feel about certain behaviour, all the rewards, restrictions and punishments in the world will not create lasting positive changes.

I would strongly suggest you get a copy of Jane Nelson's book "Positive Parenting" and read about her approach to family meetings. I only have four children, but for us family meetings were a crucial way to build empathy and understanding and create a culture of cooperation and mutual support in our family. They felt a bit odd at first, but by following Nelson's approach as well as incorporating a bit of Appreciative Inquiry (what's working well? why is it working well? and how can we do more stuff this way?) they quickly became our new normal.

I spent about a year living by the mantra of "Relationships first." Once we had built our relationships up and built understanding and empathy, mutually supportive behaviour just kind of ... happened. Discipline was no longer really necessary. I mean it wasn't permanent and 100%. But we were most of the way there, and when things slipped a bit we knew how to problem-solve our way back on track.

No quick fixes, but I do think that empathy and understanding are the foundation of good behaviour, and that's where I would start doing the heavy work. Good luck!

Miranda
 

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Sorry I could not respond sooner. They destroyed my computer. Once that happened, we decided to take all technology away pending improvement on their behavior. They were goofing off and the oldest was supposed to move my computer from one table to the next. He was so busy goofing off that he sat the computer on the floor. Literally, the two tables were about 12 feet a part. I was busy on my hands and knees scrubbing the floor and was also trying to wash the table off and get dinner served. They were running around goofing off, refusing to help. This is referring to the 11 yr old (who is now 12 yrs old) and the teenager. The teen was the one who sat it on the floor. And then it got stepped on.

We took the computers. We told them we will establish better life habits and respect for each other before any technology comes back. And that if they are capable enough to sell stuff online, create websites, and do all they do on the internet, then they are capable of clearing a table, picking up their own rooms, finishing their homework.
What is the consequence for refusing to help?

What is the teen's plan for compensating you for the broken computer?
 

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Please give them daily chores, make them pick up their messes and take away privileges,if they dont..we have 4 kids and that behavior wouldn't fly here. Why are u scrubbing floors? Have the kids do it and u move the electronics.

Kids must pick up here, must make beds etc. They dont do everything but basic things yes they do! Right now we are working on them getting their dirty laundry in their hampers and not dropping them wherever. Dh and usually clean meals up just because we like the time to talk..
 
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