(Closed) SO's daughter, emotions running high

posted 9 years ago in Emotional
Post # 3
560 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: July 2012

I don’t know what actions she took, but my sister had a kind of similar situation. My step-niece, at around the same age, was not exactly a pleasant child. However, she’s much older now and things are so much better. Hopefully you’ll experience the same. Good luck with this situation!

Post # 4
857 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: July 2013

Keep your distance. She could very well be hearing things from her mother, or she could just be coming up with it because she, in her little 4 year old mind, doesnt quite understand everything.

She will get over it, and if she doesnt, its FI’s problem, not yours. 

Post # 5
1626 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2011

Yikes what a tough situation.  Maybe family therapy would help?  A child therapist might be able to understand her and explain thing to her in a way she understands.  Don’t give up though.  It will get better.  Maybe Dad needs to sit down and have a heart to heart with her rather than just discipline?  (He may have already done this.)  Hopefully some blended family bees will have some great advice!

Post # 6
4997 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: September 2013

Pretty sure this is totally normal given the situation. I’d get her in counseling, maybe with you and her dad if the psychologist recommends it. She might grow out of it, but it’s obviously going to be hard for her for a while. If sounds like you have a very distant relationship with her and are not planning to mother her, but you are going to have to be around each other a lot for the next 14 years if you’re marrying her dad…

Post # 7
899 posts
Busy bee

I think you should keep your distance as well and just take the high road. Do not react to this little girl. That’s about all you can do right now. She’ll likely get better with age.

Are you engaged to her father? I don’t know that I’d feel comfortable providing regular childcare for a child who isn’t yet expected to my stepchild. Maybe now and again, but not all the time. I think you should suggest that his mother pick up the slack. Clearly you taking care of her isn’t working out anyway.

Post # 8
3770 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: December 1999

I also think this is a pretty common way for her to be reacting to having someone new living with her dad.  I would make sure she is still getting time with her dad alone, but if you quit being around her this will never get better. She will learn 1. If she misbehaves to you, it will keep you away and 2. It will appear that she can keep you away from her dad.

I think counceling would be an option. I do think you need to keep being involved with her and spend time together as a family. When she gets secure in the fact that you are a family, you aren’t going anywhere, her dad isn’t going anywhere, and you both love her this will get better.

Post # 9
2587 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: October 2014 - UK

For a start – and this might be hard – but I think you need to work with your SO to lay down ground rules for how you should discipline her. I understand where you’re coming from, why should you if her mum’s clearly not – but here’s the thing: She is going to be around FOREVER. You need to be in a position of authority from the get-go.

Believe it or not, she is probably only acting up because she doesn’t have clear boundaries set with you. Once you start enforcing rules, and disciplining her, she will calm down and you will start to build a relationship with her. She’s only 4, she doesn’t understand how this all works, but she subconsciously she knows that the people who care about her – Mummy, Daddy and her teachers – all give her rules and boundaries. So you need to as well. Put it from her perspective – she’s only very tiny, with a very rudimentary understanding of the world, and unlike some kids, with split custody everything changes every time she swaps houses. That confuses her, so she’ll focus on the constant – her daddy, and act out because she’s not comfortable feeling like things have changed and she can’t understand why. The rules will give her consistency, and help her feel more comfortable and stable.

Things like putting her in time out if she acts out can really help, but also rewarding positive behaviour – when she’s polite to you, when she’s nice, give her a sticker chart so she knows she’s doing well.

Supernanny is actually quite worth a watch (although make sure it’s the Jo Frost version!) because she has experience with child psychology, and having watched her after training as a teacher for kids your step-daughter’s age, then she’s absolutely not wrong. It’s hard work to start it up, but once you’ve got rules in place slowly it will get better. But it is important you work with your SO on this so that your authority isn’t undermined – even accidentally – by him!


ETA: I’m not sure she’ll really need counselling as a first option – I noticed a few other people have said it, but it seems a bit extreme as first step for what is essentially a behavioural issue. If, once you’ve instilled some structure and rules for when she’s with you, she still acts up, then consider it, but not right away.

Post # 10
11227 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: August 2013

I agree that her dad needs to sit down and talk with her, and also that you three should maybe look in to family counseling.

What it sounds like is that mommy is putting ideas into her head. She’s 4, she isn’t going to come up with this on her own. One of my BMs is engaged to a guy with a terror for a kid–she does a lot of the same things and more, and it’s because the kid’s mom and grandmother put it in her head (and don’t discipline her, spoil her, give her whatever she wants, etc.). And then the kid’s mom had the audacity to ask my Bridesmaid or Best Man if she’ll put the kid on her insurance when they get married. Um, no.

Post # 11
748 posts
Busy bee

She’s 4, she didn’t get that way on her own and she’s probably just acting out. Has she acted like this with any of your SO’s exes?

Post # 12
6258 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: August 2013 - The Liberty House

I think that it’s possible she IS coming up with this on her own- but even if she isn’t, it doesn’t matter. She’s 4, and as inconvenient as it is for you to have to deal with her, it will change. She will gain the ability to reason and will get used to you, but only if you make the effort to be a part of her life.

Post # 13
2401 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: September 2013

At four, most children learn about “traditional” families and that her mommy should be living and married to her daddy. Having a stranger live with her daddy is upsetting. Especially when you cannot work out that daddy is not “with” mommy and that’s ok. 

Cut her some slack. But I will say that you shouldn’t be the one picking her up from her mom or picking her up from anywhere unless it’s an emergency. She should be slowly eased in to your relationship, not forced to have a close one right away. 

Post # 14
1524 posts
Bumble bee

Four year olds pick up on EVERYTHING. It might be as simple as her mom asking her if she likes you, and her wanting to please her mom and saying no and then getting positive feedback. My stepdaughter doesn’t understand that her mom abandoned her, but it’s obvious that she’s emotionally aware of it because she attached herself to me like GLUE. She is terrified I’m going to leave her (her mom left when she was 2). Maybe her mom has mentioned wanting to get with your SO or something…and if her mom finds it funny, that’s making the problem worse. Unfortunately, you can’t control what her mom says or what goes on at their house. I would say things to her like “It really hurts my feelings when you say things like that to me. I’m not sure why you dislike me, but I really was hoping we could be friends and get to do fun things like get ice cream or *insert other activity* but it’s hard to be friends with you when you’re mean to me.” Honestly, bribery isn’t awesome, but it works. Everything is just reinforcing good behavior, punishing bad behavior. Confront his daugther with what she’s done that’s hurtful and explain how it makes you feel, that way she understands that it is hurtful and not okay, like “I heard you told people I’m mean. Is there something that I do that you think isn’t fair to you?” that way you guys can talk about it. 

They are just little people. At four, they understand a lot and she knows what she is doing. It doesn’t mean she needs to be punished harshly or anything, but she needs to know that her actions hurt people and that saying mean things about people and to them isn’t okay.

Post # 15
1524 posts
Bumble bee

This has worked for me, btw. My stepdaughter used to tell me that, “If you be bad to me, I won’t love you anymore” (be bad meaning put her in time out for not behaving) and I would explain to her how it hurt my feelings and she would say “Well if you tell me that I wouldn’t feel bad” but I kept on talking about how it hurt my feelings when she said that and explained that when you care about someone you love them no matter what and she hasn’t said that in months. Now she’s been talking about how she loves everyone and how we’ll love each other forever. 

On another note, kids are sensitive. They get edgy around new people until they trust them, which is also a challenge. They want stability, and if there are changes, it takes them awhile to understand and accept it.

Post # 16
808 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: May 2014

I wouldn’t distance myself….I would spend as much qaulity time with her as possible (have a girls day- movies/ park/ out for lunch) or do things like crafts. Do something that she wont be able to resist….She is a child after all. 

The more you distance yourself the more she feels that SHE is in control and that SHE is winning. As far as your SO’s ex whispering in her ear, she could be…But she might not be, most kids know how to play both parents to get what they want.

When my (then 6 year old) first met my SO he said straight away, (This was not encouraged by their father)….

” I hate you and you will never break up my mum & dad”. (we had been seperated for 3 years already)

“you better not marry my mum”. (He loves the idea now lol)

“My mum & dad will get back together”. (He now understands this isn’t going to happen)

My other son is a non-verbal autistic (was at the time 5) and he didn’t trust my SO or ask my SO for help with anything (he shows you what he wants- eg…”brings a cup if he needs a drink). 

Now after getting to know him (boys are now 8 & 9), and my SO putting in a lot of effort, my boys LOVE my SO and it only took a few months….they all get along so well with eachother now. 

Just give it time and keep trying to get to know this child or she will never want to make the effort with you either.

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