December 07, 2006,
C.S. asks from Houston, TX on November 20, 2006
Need Advice on "Diciplining" My 7 Year Old Stepdaughter
O.K here's the situation. I have a 9 month old baby girl. I also have a 7 year old step daughter and a 8 year old stepson. We usually only have them every other weekend and once during the week. As a result of that, when I tell them (mostly the girl) not to be constantly pickly up the baby and being way too rough and wild with her, she forgets this very easily. I realize that kids are impulsive and since they don't live with us that contributes to the problem. Maybe we could instill some sort of new "rule" or thing that we do now. I hate to take away her playtime with her sister because it can be helpful in entertaining the baby but it's just too rough. Any ideas?
C.J. answers from Austin on November 20, 2006
My suggestion would be a short reward chart for the purpose of handling the baby as well as other requirements in your home. You are correct children at this age are very impulsive and simply have a hard time remembering and understanding how delicate babies are.
You could create a little reward chart for simple stuff at your house...
* Rinse your plates after meals
* Play safe with the baby
* Pick up your toys
* Be nice and share
* Brush your teeth 2 times a day
If the brother and sister can get 15 out of 20 points in the weekend then they get their favorite gum or a treat at McDonalds.
Anyway, just a way to help her or them focus on themselves and learn good behavior with positive reinforcement. It doesn't become a negative for you or them.
Lot of Luck...
B.C. answers from Houston on November 21, 2006
Being a stepparent can be very challenging. I have 2 step sons, 13 and 16, and an 18 month old son. I have been married 5 years. One of the most important things to remember is we are not suppose to be the ones to discipline our step children, but only inforce the rules set by their father - and only when absolutely necessary. I'm not sure how your relationship is with your step children, but having a new sibling can be difficult for them even if they don't show it. Girls can be extremely emotional - especially when their "daughter and father" relationship is interrupted a bit. There are some wonderful books out there for stepparenting and I encourage you to read them. Of course, my biggest counselor was God and through a lot of prayer God showed me different ways to respond and gave me the love for my step children that wasn't there before.
Maybe a simple way to help her along would be to "play" with her and the your baby and show her (not tell her) how much of a special big sister she is and how her little sister needs her soft touch and gentle care. Instead of "discouraging" a behavior - really encourage the opposite behavior. You don't know what type of feelings she is having inside with this situation... no matter what she tells you. This could be a way she is responding to her emotions. Best to you and it is GREAT that you are reaching out to seek suggestions... you must be a good step mom and mom! God Bless.
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T.S. answers from Houston on November 21, 2006
If I were in your shoes, I'd set up a sort of schedule with your step daughter. Explain to her that you know she loves to play with the baby, but maybe if you could have times where she keeps the baby busy(if its in a pack in play or one of those activiity bouncy things) just tell her that if your not in the room, its safer for her not not pick her up. But she can still play with her, just can't pick her up, cause shes "TOO WIGGLEY"...
This is the excuse that I used with my daughter, and it worked out perfectly. I have pictures of my daughter dangling over the side of the pack in play jsut so she could play with her brother, but yet, not breaking the rule of picking him up
Hope this helps...
D.J. answers from Baton Rouge on November 21, 2006
What are they doing that is rough or wild? I have an 8 month old and five other kids between 4 and 12 years. The baby loves to play with them. As long as they are not pushing him down, shaking, dragging or putting things in his mouth. I make sure to tell them well you can not do this with the baby because..... Even the four year old understands well he can not have small things because he could choke. Just a little conversation and understanding on both parts could help a situation.
V.B. answers from Alexandria on November 20, 2006
I would tell her that she will have to ask permission about holding baby first. I would have her be seated and I would tell her she had to stay seated while holding the baby. If she started getting wild or rough with her I would immediately take the baby and tell the step-daughter exactly what she cannot do and she wouldn't get to hold her unsupervised at all until and unless she could hold the child gently. Her father should be the one making this point clear to her also. It seems like it is always best if the real parent does the correcting.
A.P. answers from Houston on December 07, 2006
Instead of having her entertain the baby, have her help with the baby while supervised. My oldest was 2 years old and he wanted to do everything with baby but he was rough too. I set up a time and environment where he could "help" and spend time with me and the baby together.
I put him in the middle of the bed with pillows all around and had him hold the baby and feed the baby a bottle (expressed breast milk). The baby was all snuggled in pillows and sitting up in the right position with the pillows and just sort of adjusted to be across his brothers lap. It was a moment I won't ever forget.
She is older but do something similar. Let her help change the diaper, put her on the couch (after washing hands) and lay the baby across her lap. This way she can't get up and "be rough". When I let younger kids hold the baby on the couch I put pillows all around on the floor, this way no harm no foul if accidents happen.
Lastly, be gentle with her, show her how gentle you are with the baby and in all things. Don't yell at her our get tense, she doesn't know how to deal with a baby, its your job to smile and correct her calmly and show her how to do things the right way and give her alternative ways to express affection. Let her know that you want her to spend time with the baby and she is a great sister! Let her know how scared you were and problems you had when you first brought the baby home and how you too had to learn how to treat the baby. Tell her how you learned to do things the right way, by asking!