There is a child in my family that is suffering from some very misguided parenting. There is no doubt that his parents adore him and he is very well cared for but he is spoiled to the point of being a disruption. At the age of four, he is very violent with both of his parents and his grandmother and routinely punches, kicks, scratches and curses at them to get his way, and sadly it always works. The other children in the family are starting to avoid visits with this side of the family because, as one of the kids put it, "he ruins our cousin time". He is very controlling of the other children and resorts to violence and tattling if he doesn't get his way (his mother always, very sweetly forces the other child to submit when he tattles by the way). Social events are always a nightmare because they are continually disrupted by his behavior. Since I am the family member closest to his mother, I've been getting lots of calls from family and friends requesting that I intervene but I have a huge problem with getting involved in someone else's parenting. Avoiding him isn't an option by the way since we have a very large, close knit family and we take part in many family gatherings.
The 'time out chair' almost always works. but it takes a strength of will on the part of the adults to pull it off. There can be no wavering. Gently but firmly put the child back into the chair each time he moves from it. Make sure the time is something he can deal with, such as - 4 yr old - 2 minutes on the clock. Do this every time he misbehaves and he will quickly learn, at least when you are around. Make sure the chair is not visible to the other children so he is not embarrassed on top of everything else. You want to retrain him, not scar him.
I'm sure the parents probably know that their child's behaviour is unacceptable. However, if they wanted help or advice they'd probably ask for it. Sometimes parents don't seek help with their children's unacceptable/inappropriate behavior, because they know it's due to their poor parenting skills. I went through a phase with my son years ago, when he was around the same age as the child you describe. I learnt about operent conditioning and positive approaches to parenting. My sons behavior was a result of the way I parented. The problem was me, unless this child's parents are willing to accept this, then there isn't really that much you can do.
They won't intervene but they want you to (without even naming them I bet)? I would predict that any strong intervention will not go well and you will not be thanked for it. Many people making mild suggestions is likely to be more effective than one person making strong suggestions while the others hide.
with finesse, you can offer insight without 'Interfering'. The interfering cards are reserved for our own mothers.
I always give a little and see if the other parent is interested in my suggestions. Since my little girl is so unique, people are usually interested in her stories. If there is something I would like to say to someone, I simply start with...
Oh, I remember when I had to go thru that with K... or
We tried a different approach with K...
Usually, people who are interested in the help will invite it by saying, really what did you do or what happened.
Nobody wants to be forced fed, this remains true for advice so just offer and support, then respect the others decision to either accept or not to accept the help.
When Is It Ok (If Ever) To Interfere With Someone Else's Parenting?
When the 'Parenting' is abuse, legal abuse.
This was pretty much my first thought, too. Unless the child is being abused or grossly neglected, which you have stated is not the case, then intervention is not really an option.
Considering your circumstance and the closeness of your family the only option I see as viable is not to avoid them as that really isn't an option to begin ignoring them, or him, little by little. When his behavior gets to be a problem, remove the other children to another activity. Have the other kids learn how to ignore him and move away; no arguments. Playtime? You have something else to do. We did this with an unruly spoiled nephew. When his mother asked why we didn't come over anymore or invite them over except on holidays and important family days, I took that opportunity to tell her flat out it was because her son's behavior was ruining everyone else's good time, the young cousins especially. At first she was offended and naturally found excuses to condone his behavior but not long after that we got lucky and he started kindergarten where the teacher (an outside source) told her everything we had been saying the whole time. By the end of that first year in school he and my oldest whom he used to bully frequently became the best of friends and they still are. The key was that we did not exclude them from the major events, just the minor ones, like impromptu bbqs, picnics, trips to the park, and so on. They didn't like the cold shoulder.
For this particular situation S G Hupp, you may need to have an adult only 'intervention'. These parents may have to see evidence that the long term affects of this style of parenting causes hardship for the parents and the child along with the rest of the family.
This can only be done in a loving environment, so be sure that it comes from love and concern and that it does not become a 'we all got together & this is why your kid is the bad apple!'
If you are a God loving family, perhaps the help of a family oriented church pastor would be beneficial.
I would think that the only person who might get away with speaking to the child's mother without damaging the relationship between them is the child's maternal grandmother. If she is also bearing the brunt of the bad behavior she has the right to speak out.
It is not really fair to let this little boy think that everyone will accommodate his bad behavior in the way the family has so far. When he goes to school, if he behaves like this he will be in trouble with the children and the school as it will be disruptive.
In my opinion, the cousins have the right to refuse to play with him if they are suffering from the way he acts.
smack or belittle your child in front of me at the grocery store . ill make sure you see my scornful but silent face. there's a place and a time to confront a child's behavior . public humiliation isn't good child rearing .
I'm coming from the other side of this issue, my daughter is the "brat" that everyone always gives advice on. In her case, her screaming, hitting, and kicking has a reason, but you would be surprised how often it is assumed that I am a horrible parent and she just needs discipline. I've actually had people say "If she were mine, I would beat her ass"
I also get accused of spoiling her quite often, usually by those people that say I should be spanking her.
I used to be okay with advice, now if I want it I'll ask for it. My general reaction to anyone giving their opinion is "I suggest you pop one out and raise it YOUR way then" It's too easy to give advice on what someone should do with their child when 1) Your own child has issues or you don't have children and 2) you have no idea what issues the child/parents are dealing with.
MelissaBarrett-Please don't misunderstand my reasons for asking the question because I totally agree with you. I have never before stuck my nose into someone else's parenting (and I still haven't in this case). However, this is not a matter of there being possible, unknown underlying issues for his behavior. This is a child that we have all known since birth and have watched as his parents created this behavior. I don't use the term "spoiling" lightly. He has literally been taught -even though his parents mean well--that the individuality and feelings of others either do not exist or are meaningless.
I perhaps was a little harsh, but it's a touchy subject for me. I had three children that were very well behaved then I had Lily, who is a challenge. She is autistic, but the issues with her behavior stem more from a sensory disorder (which often accompanies autism)
Spoiled can show itself in lots of ways, but generally violence really isn't normal. If the child is relatively well behaved and non-violent in the home but becomes that way in new sittings or it is worse when in a large gathering, it may be a sensory issue as well. Lily is pretty well behaved when in a familiar setting and with her immediate family around, but in larger groups or strange places she becomes loud and violent. If the parents have ever said "I don't know why he gets like this sometimes" then that might point to a similar issue. (Not autism, but sensory) I read somewhere that around 20 percent of kid AND adults have symptoms that interfere in their lives to a significant degree.
A sensory disorder is worth a thought but the truth is, this particular childs behavior seems to be textbook cause and effect. His behavior doesn't differ from one location to another and his out bursts always have a specific cause--for example he demands a toy someone is playing with and they don't hand it over, or he tells his grandmother to do something and she doesn't get there fast enough. His parents are very docile and have quite literally never told him no. They also act as his enforcers, expecting the rest of the children in the family to obey him. I know it sounds extreme but I don't think they really realize they're doing it. Also, instead of consequences he is offered bribes. "If you stop hitting Mommy we'll go buy you that motorcyle toy you saw on TV"
I appreciate all of the insight. I think that overall the family is growing concerned because his behavior is so violent and is so often directed at the rather frail grandmother of all of these children. His parents don't attempt to protect her so it HAS reached the point where other adults have stepped in during his outbursts and had to physically stop him and tell him that it's not OK to hurt grandma. I agree that any interference would be unwelcome as his parents tend to make lots of excuses for his behavior (he's just tired, he's just being a boy, etc...)and it's also true that as much as everyon agrees that something needs to be done-nobody wants to be the one to do it.
i have two grown sons . building men from scratch aint easy . most of us fall short as parents . i spanked i yelled i grabbed them by the ear. but i never publicly humiliated them. i took them aside. this aint advise . its what i did. my sons are good men . better men than me. i taught them that . sometimes tru bad example
As you say that your family is a large one and a very close knit too. In such case I feel one should intervene in a very tactful manner so that your family atmosphere does not get spoiled due to wrong attitude of few members as well as a child who is getting spoiled should be streamlined properly which will be good for his future. You cannot stay away and allow a child of your own family to get spoiled and ruin his future. Yes, you need to be tactful, suggestive and never give order, never be rough or use pressure rather take help through different stories and definitely be sweet and tolerant. I am sure it will be fruitful and the spoiled child will be in a right track.
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