Top Tips for Discipling Stepchildren

If you have ever heard the stinging words, “You’re not my mother” or “You’re not my father”, you must be a stepparent. Simply put, blended families are difficult to manage, and it’s very common for a child to reject an incoming stepparent. Even so, it’s important to remain patient with your stepchild, while new bonds are formed. In many cases before those bonds have had time to form, there will be disciplinary issues that must be addressed. We suggest you review the Tallahassee Family Law Blended-Family Parenting Guide and use the following tips to address discipling your stepchild.

Tips for Disciplining Stepchildren

In the best case scenario, the authority of a stepparent is easily shattered and extremely fragile. At least in the beginning, you should never discipline the child on your authority alone.

You Got My Back…Right?

It’s imperative the biological parent has your back and effectively communicates their expectations of obedience to the child. More importantly, they must communicate their willingness to back up the actions of the stepparents. In the event a disagreement occurs between the stepparent and biological parent, these issues should be settled in private. The goal is to present a unified front.

All for One

Unity is always important in parenting, especially when dealing with blended families. The parents should have a clear understanding of boundaries, expectations of behavior, consequences, and especially values. If parenting values and philosophies are not in line, there will be problems.

Keep It Consistent

Stepparents shouldn’t punish the child or be harsh in a way that is not consistent with the parenting practices of the biological parent. In addition, stepparents should not attempt to make up for previous parental failings or mistakes. Rules pertaining to the child should remain the same regardless of who is administering the disciplinary action.

Strong Relationships

Stepparents should always focus on building strong relationships with the child. Make sure you communicate effectively and openly with the biological parent. If the child must be engaged, parental unity should be gained before addressing the child.

Can You Hear Me Now?

Since you have two ears and one mouth, make a habit of listening to the child with your ears and heart. If the child draws you in much sooner than you expected, don’t look back! Instead, use the relational authority being offered to you. At the same time, you shouldn’t get impatient because it typically takes years to bond with the child and gain their trust. Make sure your actions express that bonding with them is a priority.

Ready, Set, Take Action

When you are not discipling or arguing with your stepchild, use this time to make strides to strengthen the relationship. Use the following tips to open up and spend some quality time to create a bond with the child.

Play, Run, Laugh

Whether it’s a board game, basketball, tennis, or simply playing hide and seek, playing with the child is an amazing way to connect. It doesn’t have to be an organized sport, to connect with the child simply do something fun.

Get Involved

Instead of being a passive parent, getting involved in the child’s life will allow you to connect with them. This could mean talking to them about their homework, taking them to practice, or anything else to get involved in their world. Find out what the child is interested in and get engaged.

Show and Tell

In addition to getting involved in their world, it’s important you let them into yours. Share your favorite hobbies, demonstrate your skill, and show off your talents. The goal is let the child know who you are. You may be surprised to find you share a few – if not many – common interests.

Talk About It

One of the best ways to form a relationship is to let the child know you desire a relationship with them through clear communication. By doing so, you will effectively allow the child to see your heart.

A Tallahassee divorce or separation almost instantly creates chaos in the family. Expectations and rules can quickly become a gray area for kids, especially during the transitional period. If Dad or Mom decides to remarry, it can create further confusion for the child, particularly when it comes to discipline. Disciplining your stepchild is a sticky subject and very challenging situation. However, with communication, counseling, and cooperation, it can be safely and effectively done.


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