If you’re a step­par­ent, re­mem­ber these dos and don’ts of dis­ci­plin­ing the kids.

Young Parents (Singapore) - - C NTENTS -

Sur­veys con­stantly re­veal that the main cause of ar­gu­ments in rst mar­riages is money, but that the main cause of ar­gu­ments in a sec­ond mar­riage is stepchil­dren. Here is our ad­vice to help you through this po­ten­tial mineeld. DO

Take it slowly Re­sist the urge to get the topic of dis­ci­pline sorted out as soon as you move in with your spouse. There will be plenty of time for you to get in­volved in rais­ing your stepchil­dren.

Ev­ery­one needs time to ad­just – you and the chil­dren – so don’t rush into things. It may take weeks, or months, to get to know each other and to build up trust.

Let the bi­o­log­i­cal par­ent take the lead

You’re the step­par­ent, and it makes sense to let your spouse be in charge of dis­ci­pline, at least in the early stages.

Your part­ner knows how to han­dle the chil­dren best. Even if you have dif­fer­ent ideas about dis­ci­pline and think you could do it bet­ter, stand back, watch and take a back seat.

Dis­cuss dis­ci­pline with your spouse

You’ll have much more suc­cess with dis­ci­pline when you and your spouse share par­ent­ing val­ues and have the same ideas about how the kids should be man­aged.

Lis­ten to each other, swop ideas and then de­cide on an ap­proach to dis­ci­pline that you will both be able to ap­ply with condence.

Have condence in your­self

Dis­ci­plin­ing other peo­ple’s kids is much harder than set­ting be­havioural lim­its for your own, partly be­cause you don’t know your stepchil­dren as well, and also be­cause you don’t want to rock the boat. Rest as­sured, how­ever, that you will do a good job and that they will even­tu­ally ac­cept you.

Use pos­i­tive dis­ci­pline

When you start to get in­volved as a step­par­ent, make sure you have a pos­i­tive ap­proach that recog­nises and re­in­forces good be­hav­iour, in­stead of fo­cus­ing on the kids’ neg­a­tive ac­tions.

Ideally, you should nd that it in­volves giv­ing signicantly more re­ward than pun­ish­ment.

DON’T Ex­pect too much, too soon It would be won­der­ful if you meshed in­stantly with your stepchil­dren, and that you all im­me­di­ately feel at home with each other.

While that can hap­pen, it’s much more likely that they’ll be cautiously dis­tant at the start. Hav­ing re­al­is­tic ex­pec­ta­tions will help you avoid dis­ap­point­ment.

Crit­i­cise the ab­sent par­ent

Even if you think (and pos­si­bly know) that the ab­sent par­ent was not a very good par­ent, you should still avoid crit­i­cis­ing them in front of your stepchil­dren.

They al­most cer­tainly still love both bi­o­log­i­cal par­ents, and want to re­main loyal to them both. Your neg­a­tive crit­i­cism could push the kids away from you.

Start off strict Some step­par­ents think they should start by be­ing au­thor­i­tar­ian with their stepchil­dren, and then ease up later on. That method usu­ally fails, how­ever, mainly be­cause overly strict par­ent­ing en­cour­ages the kids to be re­sent­ful.

By the time you do in­tro­duce more re­laxed rules, fam­ily re­la­tion­ships may al­ready be strained.

Give in to every­thing

Of course you want your new stepchil­dren to love you and to wel­come you into their fam­ily, and you may think that giv­ing in to them will win you their af­fec­tion.

That’s a mis­take. If you let them set the rules, they will quickly lose any re­spect they had for you.

As­sume it’s per­sonal

The fact that you are the step­par­ent means that the chil­dren have ex­pe­ri­enced di­vorce.

Some­times, they will take out their anx­i­ety and neg­a­tive feel­ings on you, not be­cause they dis­like you, but be­cause you are there and they know you won’t re­ject them. Don’t take their chal­lenges and neg­a­tive com­ments per­son­ally.

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