This is a Premium feature
To use this feature subscribe to Mumsnet Premium - get first access to new features see fewer ads, and support Mumsnet.Start using Mumsnet Premium
Older step children disciplining toddler(88 Posts)
This is partially a vent and I was wondering if this is also a "normal" teenage behaviour: SC who rarely see our toddler (their choice to stay at their mother's living their lives and having DP visiting them there) think that they have to discipline him.
SD (12) comes EOW (that's about 3-4 days per month), her older brother (16), every 2 months or so.
An example with the older brother: the toddler (22 months) poored cereal on the floor. I dealt with it. SS wasn't even present in the room, but once he learnt that it happened 10 min later, I see him standing in front of the toddler loudly saying "NO!". I'm sure that toddler didn't even link the 2 events. I explain to him that it's not necessary to discipline him in addition to his parents, but he just walked away.
SD is obviously with us more often so I see her repeatedly saying with a commanding voice "No!" to the toddler many times throughout the day. Obviously, if I hear it, it's because I'm present and 1) either I don't think there's anything I need to be involved with and 2) if there's something, I can deal with it. I told SD several times that me and her father can discipline our toddler when necessary, it's not her job, but she continues. Herself, she doesn't like being disciplined by the older SS who likes being bossy and ignores him.
Yesterday, we were at a friend's house and I allowed the toddler to play with billiard balls, just putting them gently from one place to another. I was sitting right next to him. She sees it, runs to him and starts saying "No!". I even tell her that it's me who allowed it (as if it's not obvious that I'm sitting 5 cm from him) and she argues with me that he can break them (hard balls and carpet flooring!).
She also tried brushing his very curly dry hair after I told her (and she argued with me) that this kind of hair should not be brushed. She did it once behind my back, but yesterday, she started in front of me.
The other time, she started contradicting me when I wanted to remove my toddler who got too close to some Rottweiler that I've never seen before. This dog's mouth was big enough to swallow my son's head. SD wanted to caress him, it's her choice, but when I explain why I don't want my son next to an unknown big dog, she just walks away. This situation with dogs happened several times, my explanations don't matter.
When she sees me changing diapers, so always asks why? Did he poop or pee? She could ask it several times per day. I don't think it's curiosity, she's been seeing me changing diapers for almost 2 years. A variation would be: did you already wash him? I just don't know how to answer this and be sincerely nice, it's just annoying.
And there are many many things like that, that make it unpleasant for both of us I suppose. My toddler doesn't go to the daycare yet, he's with me 24/7, it feels very annoying to have another child who still has a lot to learn herself to dictate to me and to her little brother what to do.
I know several women with older daughters around SD's age who had babies, but none of them tells me that they contradict or discipline them. The mother is always respected. Is it because I'm a SM that my opinion about my own son doesn't matter?
My 7 year old says no to my 2 year old. I think it’s just part of the normal older / younger sibling dynamic?
I don’t know that it’s to do with your role as a step mum. I wonder if it’s because she doesn’t have much involvement in his life and doesn’t quite know where her role fits; could you give her a job to do with your toddler that you’re happy with?
Alongside that I’d start being firmer when she tries to discipline your toddler and tell her to stop quite firmly each time.
Sounds to me like the step children are normal and you have a problem with them. The way you are behaving is going to cause resentment with their brother if you are not careful. My kids tell their toddler no, cousins do the same. I think you are being really OTT and your resentment of them is showing. Why don't you try to create a more harmonious relationship with them for both you and your son - surely you can see that when he is older they will be fantastic to have around him
I agree you are making far too much of this. You don't sound like you have tried to like her at all.
Sounds like the SD is actually trying to parent your child as maybe she feels you are not doing it correctly. Maybe you are a relaxed parent and the children have been brought up differently.
I don't see any issue with what you described.
your SC are probably copying someone’s behaviour. I have no idea where they’ve got it from exactly, could be that their mum behaves like this around children and even with them.
Also it’s about big gap between siblings. My sister is much older and she always considers me a little bit as her extra child.
But I can imagine how annoying it’s for you. You need to look after a toddler 24/7 and now you have to be extra vigilant when they are present.
My 7 yo “disciplines” her younger brother and will no doubt do the same with her sister once she’s past tiny babyhood. Basically she’s copying me and it’s normal development. I don’t like the bossy tone to her voice and I tell her it’s unnecessary, but she’s just enjoying being “grown up”.
At 12, your dsd is probably hoping to be genuinely useful and grown up, as well as trying to figure out where she fits in with you. She’s also at that tricky age where they think they know it all! I think you’ll do better off gently explaining to her the way she’s coming across rather than getting wound up about it.
I used to love my SD, but since my toddler was born, things changed. First on her side, as she became almost obsessed with him and rude to me. Things are better now, but I just can not get my feelings back. Yes, I tried. I even go to a therapist. If anyone has a better advice on how to improve the relationship, I'll listen.
No, I'm not a relaxed parent. She used to even say that her mother is not severe, whereas my older son (who is 11 and who doesn't constantly discipline my toddler and he's with him full time) and SD considered that I was.
When I had to discipline SD (only with regards to things in my own house, like jumping on the bed, breaking my personal items or taking home my son's toys without asking), I would do it very gently, so that she doesn't feel bad.
So I don't know where all this authority is coming from. She used to be a nice lovely girl.
Thanks dsc but you aren't his parent. ...
My older dc aren't allowed to discipline my 4yo. Unless they are babysitting and I am not there ..
It's borderline bullying imo....
You’re really overstretching here. None of these things are an issue. I think you dislike your stepchildren so whatever they do it will annoy you.
maybe you're right. I've seen her mother just grabbing my toddler when he was 3 months old without even looking at me. Or telling him (twice!) that she will speak to him in Spanish so that he learns (they are Cubans), when she only saw him 3 times in her life, last time being when he was 3 months old precisely. Some strange involvement without reason. Maybe she's like that with friend's kids...
She did show strange involvement with my older son (who's not the son of my DP) and went to offer him something after I told her "no, thanks", all this in my presence.
Tell them firmly that they are not the parent and you do not need their help with discipline. I love dr Phil's 'I'm the parent and I've got this but if I need any help you'll be the first to know'. Then if they continue there need to be consequences, preferably set by their parent. Where is your partner in all of this? Why are you allowing them time unsupervised with the toddler if they're intimidating him several times a day? SDS (15) will tell DD (11 months) no if shes doing something she shouldnt (she's obsessed with pulling the foam tiles off the floor) but its instant and so he can pop them back down. In your situation I would up the supervision.
I still remember being disciplined by my older cousin and how much I hated it. I was 5 and I still remember. I wanted her to love me, not to discipline me. I already had my mother and my father who were pretty strict.
My DP is strict, I often have to tell him to be gentler, so I really do not want older children (and I do have an older son who leaves it to me) to add to it. I have an elderly neighbour who has been in my son's life since he was born, she got very involved, but even she doesn't do it.
I think that older children saying "no" to a younger sibling is quite normal. I totally get why you'd find it annoying though!
I was a childminder and the older ones always wanted to parent the younger. Start easy explaining I'm the parent, I sort problems, you do cuddles etc
Then if they continue, we'll they're ignoring your request and being as badly behaved as the toddler, so punishment/withdrawal of privelidges, however you manage behaviour.
I think this is really normal. Asking about the nappies is just being curious and mothering. Older children do that. Does she ever change him?
By all means tell her when you’ve got it, but it’s super common.
With the older one and the delay better to explain to him that toddlers don’t make connections when there’s a big gap.
They just sound interested in their sibling. With your SD and you saying you used to love her, but now you don’t it sounds entirely possible she’s trying to copy you to win back your affection. 10/11/12 year old girls being obsessed by their new sibling is not an unusual thing at all
I have this with my 9yo DSS and 2yo DS OP and it is really annoying.
I try to have a rule that if DS is annoying DSS, he can ask him to stop by using full sentences (I.e. not just barking "stop" at him - speak as you want to be spoken to!). Other than that, it's nothing to do with DSS - if he is not in my sight then DSS can call me to tell me DSS is doing something he shouldn't be, but unless he is in imminent danger (unlikely since hes never out of my sight for long enough), that is where his involvement ends. He is a sibling, not a parent.
I’ll go against the grain here and say DSD is sounding like a rude entitled girl, she’s 12 it’s not her place to question your parenting, that would piss me off. Tell her firmly that you’re the mother not her and it’s not her place to question you, also your DP should be saying something, their attitude towards your son doesn’t sound pleasant.
It sounds like you just don't like your step children.
OKBobble, your insight is as helpful as my step children disciplining my already well looked after toddler.
Point out to your SD how she doesn't like her SB 'disciplining' her and that you dont want her doing the same with your DS.
Her behaviour is undermining... I'm not sure why pp see it as normal, that in your presence (as in the billiard ball example) she comes to say No to your DS.
I'm afraid, I'd tell her to go via you if she thinks there's a problem.
As for your SS saying something when he gets back...who does he think he is.
Be firm...tell them disciplining is the parents responsibility. It's different if they're stopping him from getting into danger, but it doesn't sound that way with your SD.
She's trying to make herself seem important and like a grown up. It could also be that children are given more responsibility at a younger age in their culture and she's copying what she sees her friends do with younger siblings.
A younger child doing this to a younger sibling is completely different to adult sized 12 and 16 year olds barking at a toddler and I wouldn’t be happy at all or think it’s normal.
Keep stepping and reminding them you’re the parents and it’s not their place to tell him what to do. His safest is your responsibility.
Fine to point out that there's no point talking to a toddler about what they did 10 mins ago. Also totally understand about potentially dangerous situations like the Rottweiler.
However most of what you describe is a normal sibling dynamic. Your older child must be extremely easy going not to say anything/react when toddler is getting into mischief.
It's interesting that you didn't mention your h's reaction to dsd doing this. I wonder if he finds it equally annoying?
Please login first.