M.R. asks from Grand Junction, CO on September 02, 2006
Discipline Between Children and Step Children
I have a 2 year old son who is sweet, helpful, polite and thoughtful. He tries to help whenever he can with my 5 month old son and he dutifully does whatever he is told. My problem is my 7 year old step-son who will be coming back to live with us when my husband returns from Iraq. My step-son is angry, aggressive, and blatantly disobedient. He does horrible things to my son like tripping him and saying things like, "what are YOU looking at?" and teaching him bad words because he thinks it's funny. How do I keep my 2 year old sweetheart from adopting this behavior? He loves his big brother and does and says everything he says. Is MY influence on my son more important than my step-sons? I'm so afraid of losing my sweet little boy. Anyone sharing this experience? Please assure me my son will be fine!
T.Z. answers from Phoenix on September 04, 2006
Your love for your boys really shows! :) But so does your "concern" for your step son's behaviors. Yes! your behavior's will infulence your son's (and step son's) more than anyone else. By treating your stepson with the same care and love (even when he does wrong)shows your son's more than you can ever imagine. Consistancy in your responce with, in your son's (all of them) behaviors is VERY important. Behaviors need to be shown direct concequences so that he can conduct himself in the format you wish for your household.
I wish you the most paitence and love for your family!
C.M. answers from Phoenix on September 06, 2006
I have a step daughter and twin newborns and my step daughter (8yrs old)likes to try to get away with stuff when she is with us that she cant at home with her mom. My husband does the disipling on her and try to just be consistant in what he says and we together set rules that we plan to instill in our babies when they get older. We do not want to run two house holds, we try to stay consistant with her that way when the boys grow more, everyone will be following the same rules and manners.
Thats just a little adivce as to what worked for us! Its always constant work as she will try to play her dad to break from that, the key thing is be consistant. if you say you need to eat your food- follow that tomorrow as well.
A.W. answers from Phoenix on September 03, 2006
I hate to be quoting Dr. Phil but he is right when he said that the step parent isn't the disciplinarian. You really need your husband to set the rules with his son. coming from you unfortunately will very likely only make him act up worse. Try to just connect with your step son on a positive level. Him being tossed back and forth can't be easy for him. At your house he probably is very jealous of his younger brother. He doesn't feel a real part of the family just an unwanted visitor. Whether thats the case or not that is probably how he is feeling.
S.D. answers from Phoenix on September 03, 2006
I agree with Katie. I don't have any step-children of my own, but they are very much a part of my and my husbands family. One thing I've noticed where the kids gain control is that they play Dad against Mom, which by the way, non-step children do as well, it's just that in many cases more guilt is involved with divorced parents. So, I'd suggest to first speak with your husband when he comes home...maybe even write him a letter sharing your concerns, what you'd like to do about them and give him some time to come up with good solutions himself. Men hate being "hit" with something that requires them to deal with it without an opportunity to think about it for a while.(At least that's been my experience.)
As far as your own children...keep reminding them what appropriate behavior is (as well as expecting those standards and values from your stepson. AND let your sons know that it is OKAY to love someone without liking their behavior! If you separate the unacceptance of bad behavior from the love of and acceptance for person, it makes it easier to process. They are two entirely separate issues and it may actually empower your boys to tell your stepson to stop/I don't like that/etc.
J.T. answers from Denver on September 04, 2006
I have to agree with everyone else that you need to try and help your step-son feel like a part of your family- I noticed that on your "a little about me" description you said you have TWO boys- actually you have three. And it's important to remember that kids pick up on EVERYTHING so if you don't feel that your step son is part of your family then he doesn't either.Just feeling like he belongs somewhere may help his behavior. Also from the sound of it, he could benefit from a little counseling. Good luck, I'm sure this is tough situation for you but try and focus on creating one big family!
G.G. answers from Denver on September 05, 2006
I understand how hard it can be with step-children because I have one myself. I have a step-daughter that is 9 years old. I have made a very consious effort to include my step daughter and make her feel comfortable. We have a great relationship as a result. I introduce her as my daughter and she calls me mom. I get along well with her mother which certainly helps. I try to treat her the same as I treat my own daughter. I make sure she has the same number of presents and christmas and is disciplined in the same manner. I really want her to feel like she is my child as well. She has had times when she has tried to push it with me but I remained firm and loving and we have gotten through it. Right now her dad isn't here but she still comes and spends weekends with me and her sister.
I try to put myself in her position as much as I can. She loves both of her parents and she did not ask for me to come into the picture. I try to treat her like I would want to be in the same position. I am sure that your stepson can pick up on your ill feelings toward him. Kids are smart. You didn't even list him as one of your children. You list only great qualities about your son and only negative about your stepson. Try to focus on his positive qualities too I am sure he has some. I am sure it is a hard situation for him as well. If he feels loved and not threatened you may see a whole different side of him. I know it is a hard situation but it can also be very rewarding.
M.P. answers from Albuquerque on September 05, 2006
By reading your problem my family can so relate. Let me say that first you and your husband need to be on the same page. You both need to have a discipline plan in conjunction with his ex wife that way you eliminate any well mom lets ect. Another thing that might help is not calling him your step son and accepting him as your son. I realize that he is not your biological son but let me tell you it will help. There is nothing harder than being split between two parents. Being 7 years of age he doesn't understand why his mom and dad aren't together anymore. Now he sees his dad with a new wife and 2 new siblings and he doesn't know where he fits. Trust me it will take time, patients,understanding and a whole bunch of unconditional love, but it pays off in the end. Another bit of advice I'm not sure how the relationship is between you, your husband and ex wife but the better that relationship is the better he will adjust (if possible). Always remember he is just a little kid that is a part of your husband and is in need of the same love kindness you give to your other two kids. It will be difficult but it is very possible and the rewards that you will reap from it is amazing. As for the relationship between your 7 year old and 2 year old let me tell you they are at two different stages of growing. At two years of age most every kid is helpful and caring and at 7 they are a whole different breed LOL. Having an older sibling is a great thing for a kid, yes they will pick up all the bad habits but that it is why you and your husband need to be on the same page. another thing that helps is explaining not yelling or out of anger but explaining why doing such things as tripping isn't nice. He might just be doing it for attention. Have you thought about what he really needs emotionaly. Maybe he needs that mom that you are to your other two and isn't getting. From your profile" I LOVE MY BOYS!!! I'm 30 years old and have 2 sons" maybe a little change in the way you view him may make the difference.
T.S. answers from Albany on September 03, 2006
First off, you MUST have your husbandís full cooperation, and actually he should take the lead here. The 7 year old is old enough to think for himself, and he is not going to think of you as a valid authority figure unless his dad makes it perfectly clear that you are in charge as much as he is. I'd recommend that on the first day your stepson arrives sit him down, go over the rules of the house AND the consequences. Even write them down and put them where everyone can see (leave blank spaces in case more rules are needed). Find out what is important to him and make that be the focus. Give him more of it when he follows the rules; take it away when he doesn't. Another idea is let him come up with the rules and consequences with you after discussing what kind of a home environment you want. I do this with my kids all the time.
With your 2 year old, I don't know about your son but my kids were very vocal at this age and understood a lot. There were several things I had to discuss with my kids at an early age because they were very aware of what was going on around them. In your situation I'd sit down with my son and tell him that I know he loves his brother, I love him too, but he does things that are not allowed in the house. I'd make sure he understood that these behaviors are not tolerated in the house. My daughter would hear her uncle swearing and she knew she was not allowed to say those words.
Good luck with it all!