So we have 2 young boys, aged 8 and 6. The 8 year old is very smart for his age, he's intuitive, figures out how things work, and knows how to get what he wants. The 6 year old however is more impulsive, but creative. He's not quite as switched on, but is still young and energetic, and they are very attached to each other. Almost everything they do, they do together.
I am new to the situation, and have only known the three of them for a year, but their view of me is caring, thoughtful, and fair. Their mother has been on her own for quite some time, so it's understandable that some behavior has been overlooked, or gone unmanaged simply due to the overall workload she's had with raising two boys. Now that I'm in the picture, I have tried to be a little more hands on and guide the boys in the right direction. I have seen this has already started to take hold, because the boys are now already telling the truth about anything that happens, whereas it would originally be a full 30 minute detective's episode piecing things together to figure out the truth.
The issue we are facing now is habitual/impulsive desire control. We are constantly waking up in the middle of the night to catch the boys either trying to play games or watching TV, any time between 2 and 4am. This is a common occurrence, and I've dealt with it firstly by telling them what they are doing is wrong, because we have (in order of occurrence):
- Spoken to them about breaking the rules (not listening/not thinking)
- Spoken to them about taking something that isn't theirs (similar to if I played their Pokémon game and deleted all their Pokémon)
- Spoken to them about the desire to do the right thing and earn rewards, vs doing the wrong thing and getting consequences
- Reminded them of all of this regularly (any time they ask when we have already told them they've been banned for doing something wrong; before bed; when other people come to visit/look after them while we're away)
- Told them (specifically the 8 year old) that we know what's good for them, and they still need to learn, so they need to listen and think about what we say
- Finally completely disabled access to the TV and console so that they need a code to log in, and unplugging the aerial (they already know how to turn the tv on without the controller or if it's unplugged from the power).
This has all gone one for months now, to the point where we have decided that they need to earn their privileges back (do enough things right, do chores, etc) which should only take a week, or even less, so long as they think about it (which again, we are constantly reminding them). But we are yet to see any consistent change of behavior. The same situation applies to the 6 yo with pens - he will take the ink out and squeeze it out, spreading it on things (carpet, clothes, bedding, himself), so we have reached the point that pens are now banned from the house.
They do have plenty to do, they have a yard to run around in, bikes to ride, toys to play with, pencils to draw and color with, books to read, so it's not from a lack of things to do that they are doing this (I believe), they are always coming up with games to play, with or without toys, playing together or separately, coming up with their own activities, etc.
At this point we are at a loss of what we should be doing. Have we not done enough, have gone too far, should we just keep going and wait for the ideas we are trying to teach to finally click for the boys, or just give up and try a different tack?