STEP DAUGHTER WOES!!! PLEASE SOME ADVICE!!!

Danielle Elizabeth - posted on 07/21/2013 ( 2 moms have responded )

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Hi ladies, I have a 7 year old step daughter whom I have known since she was One years old. I'm having trouble with her when it comes to sharing and playing nicely with my 18 month old daughter. She is here 3 or 4 days a week. My husband owns his own business and works at least 80 hours a week so when my step daughter is here she is mainly my sole responsibility. She is constantly yanking ( pretty forcefully) toys from my daughters hands and then will try and give her a different toy which really upsets my daughter and leaves her in tears. She expects to be allowed to play with her sisters toys, but if my daughter comes near something of hers she screams no at her and has pushed her over more then a few times. It hurts me to see my daughter get her feelings hurt, and I have noticed my daughter picking up on this bad behavior and will now scream no at my step daughter if she try's to play with her stuff. I will take my daughter aside and play with her to try and avoid the confrontation but as soon as I do my step daughter will walk over and start controlling the game we are playing. She will try and tell my daughter what she can and can not play with or try to designate one ball for my daughter and not let her touch the rest for example. I feel very uncomfortable with the situation and don't want it to seem as I'm playing favorites with my daughter but I feel if she was my bio daughter I would never let this behavior continue. I try to tell her she must share or whatever they are playing with is going to be put away but nothing seems to work. I actually get really angry for the way she's treating my daughter and feel a 7 year old should have a different attitude. She had a brother at her moms house who is 9 months older then my baby and treats him the same way. I feel she is a very controlling kid and has to have everything her way and I'm getting fed up. I designate one hour of tv time per day to let them watch something and they must share and get 30 min each. I let my step daughter choose first to try and keep her satisfied but she still freaks out when her time is up. Im starting to dread the days she comes here bc she's so unkind to her sister and my mommy instincts are to protect my child and it's really hard for me to watch her treat my kid this way. I also hate that my daughter is picking up on her bad behaviors and its sad to say but I feel like she's a bad influence on my kid whom I work my butt off to try and teach the right things to. How should I handle the situation without looking like the evil step mom? I feel I'd have way different expectations from her if she was my child but she's not and I don't know if it's ok to handle her as if she was . Thanks in advance for any advice

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Danielle Elizabeth - posted on 07/27/2013

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Thanks Kelly. I would take my daughter aside when my step daughter was playing with something that she didn't want my daughter touching to try an avoid a confrontation. She has a Nintendo hand held Game and my daughter is very interested in it and wants to watch and press buttons which my step daughter gets angry if she does. I will then take my daughter away to distract her bc i thought I was doing my step daughter a favor by keeping her away. I do think by her age she should have different behaviors then screaming and pushing an 18 month old when she must share. I have been around many kids and have friends kids that are the same age as my step daughter and are only children but play sooo nicely with my daughter. I feel as if she were my bio daughter i would never let a 7 year old treat a toddler that way but am not sure how to handle discipline with a step daughter.

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She is jealous of the babies. In both of her homes, she went from being the only child to having these toddlers around that require and demand a LOT of her parent's time. She is 7 years old, so obviously the parents are having to spend a lot more time with the toddlers, so from her perspective, it feels like her parents are favoring the toddlers over her. YOU know that's not true, but she can't see it that way at her age.

You said that when she takes a toy from your daughter you take your daughter aside and play with her alone--that is like pouring salt on the wound for this poor girl. First off, it reinforces her mistaken idea that you prefer your toddler to her. Second, it does nothing to show her what to do instead, to teach her how to share.
Instead of going off to play with your toddler without her, calmly ask if she would like to play too and explain the rules up front. Finish up with "These are the rules of this game, do you want to play?" If she breaks the rules, or tries to change them, remind her "we've already established the rules, you can play by the rules, or you can find something else to do." Keep your tone friendly and happy, but firm.

Also, when she is with you, perhaps during your toddler's naps, do something special with her one on one. Judging by her behavior, it's hard to tell if she is getting time with mom at her other home, so this could be really important to her even if you don't consider yourself her "real mom". Just cuddle up and read a chapter of a book with her or sit at the table and color or draw together for a few minutes--that will open up lines of communication that can be very valuable as she gets older.


Try to remember that 7 year olds are not great at sharing yet--especially those who have been only children for a long time. They are moving into a stage where they finally have actual ownership of important items, and they can be very territorial. When she is being mean to your toddler, she is not just doing it to be mean, she is trying to address a problem that she perceives. Try to focus on teaching her how to resolve the problem without conflict, as apposed to punishing her for "being bad". Punishment won't teach her anything she can use for the next time she gets frustrated with your toddler, so she'll just shove her again and again. If you teach her ways to deal with frustrations that result in making her feel happy, she will build a trove of knowledge to pull from, and gradually, she will begin to figure out ways to deal with unique problems on her own without resorting to "make the baby feel as bad as I feel."

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