“GET OUT” I used to scream. I was not the best at handling getting my buttons pushed. My daughter is 5 going on 6 and she is my only baby. When she was two however I started dating the most wonderful guy, Josh. He was exactly what I was looking for and I was exactly what he didn’t even know he wanted.
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We started slowly but before we knew it we were deeply in love and ready to share our lives with each other. He came to me with 2 wonderful kids whom learned to love me pretty quickly. There mother is not overly motherly the way I am and they enjoyed the family feeling I brought into the home.
Having stepchildren however is no easy task. My new daughter was 6 when I meet her and is about to be 10, and my son was 4 when I meet him and is on his way to 8. It is hard work and definitely a balancing act. I try not to treat them differently than my own, because I do consider them mine, but I also have to remember that they have a mother as well and she holds me back from certain actions I take with my own.
I am careful not to express my true feeling to my step-kids about their mother since I feel she should be doing a better job raising my little minions. (This is a story for another post to come later.) They do love her after all but even they are frustrated my her lack of motherly behavior.
Step parenting has challenges not faced by true parental figures. For instance when my daughter does something way beyond the rules she knows I will swat her on the butt. I can not do this however with my older two. That leads me to another thing too. I only had experience raising up to a 2 year old and suddenly I had children of 4 and 6 as well. This made for a difficult transition but one which I had to push through.
For a while they tried to push my buttons to see what they could get away with. I was not very good at controlling my temper through this time. There was definitely a lot of yelling going on. I then discovered some techniques for dealing with problems of children not behaving.
Modeling is what one is called and some others I figured out myself. I am not perfect and on a bad day will still lose my temper and yell but here are some ways in which I learned to convert out of anger and into a more joyous situation.
- Stop Yelling. All this does is make you more angry and teach your kids that yelling and avoiding difficult situations is acceptable behavior.
- Tell Them How Your Feeling. This is after all what you want for them to be doing, right? Say instead “You are really making me feel frustrated and I don’t want to yell so will you please give me a couple of minutes to calm down?”
- React In A Silly Way. My son does this fishy lip face when he gets caught in a lie and it drives me nuts. Sometimes I just want to grab his face and tell him to stop. I have started to instead still grab his face but instead of yelling at him I attack him with kisses until he wipes that look off his face. Being a little boy this works quickly as kisses are “yucky”
- Give Them Attention. This one should be obvious but when we get busy with our long lists of tasks that must be done today we often forget that our kids usually are irritating us because they just want some of our time and they can’t get it another way when we are so busy. I find that when I have a lot of things to do if I go check in with my kids in between tasks and as a break in the middle of long ones they are less likely to come bugging for the time with mom when I am busy.
- Make Them Help You. When the above still leaves them craving your time then include them in what you are doing. If it is laundry have them switch the loads or teach them to fold. (Better sooner than later here anyways) The sooner they get familiar with household chores the quicker they will get the hang of their own sense of cleanliness as well. So win win for everyone.
There are definitely still some tense moments in my home but there frequency and duration have shrunk with these techniques considerably.