When someone told me that there was a way to get my stepkids to change their behavior *without* straining our relationship, I nearly fell off my chair.
At the time, the relationship with one of my stepkids was really tense.
And to be honest, I thought he was the problem – HE just didn’t want to listen to me. He couldn’t change his behavior. And so we argued about it daily.
I complained to my spouse a lot.
We both shrugged our shoulders about what to do.
Deep down, I worried there was something wrong with me.
But then I learned that there was actually a formula for increasing trust and connection while also changing my stepson’s behavior for GOOD.
The way I was step-parenting was simply ineffective – and EASY to change.
So here are the 3 simple steps I implemented to repair my relationship AND change my stepkid’s behavior:
Establish a firm system of boundaries, expectations, consequences, and rewards.
Kids need firm boundaries and expectations to feel safe. But, parenting approaches that rely entirely on consequences are often de-motivating and don’t work in stepfamilies. Mix it up. For me, I decided to motivate my stepkid to change with a really juicy reward (hint: it had to do with screens).
Take your emotions out of it.
Calm parents are the most effective parents, and being calm, and not reacting to negative emotions, is entirely in your control. So take care of yourself first. Take some deep, slow breaths, or pause to gather your thoughts before you have a conversation with your stepkids about their behavior. For me, I would just say: “Hey – I need to think for a bit. Let’s talk in 10 minutes.”
Support the kiddo emotionally and validate their experience no matter the behavior outcome.