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Some guidance on green eyed monster between my son and step daughter

(5 Posts)
Iaro Tue 26-Aug-08 15:08:21

I'm after some tips on a situation that has gradually arisen but which seems to becoming slightly worse rather than better.

In the scheme of things we have had a brilliant time blending families.

I have a nearly three year old son, DP has two girls 7 and 5 who spend half the time with us (if not more recently).

Everyone gets on really well, both DP and I have a great relationship with the girls mum, we live close, often chat and stay for a drink at drops off and we fully support her in what she does and vice versa.

The situation with my son's father isn't so great. It is a civil relationship no more. He lives further away (3 hours) and is in the forces which makes contact difficult (though to be honest this is down to him and rarely the job - but another story entirely).

We have in the last month moved in with DP. Again all fully supported and great.

We have started to notice some behaviour with the 5 year old, she is a sweet little girl, so friendly and I think the world of her, but she has a touch of the green eyed monster where my son is concerned. Anything he does, she has to do also, which the majority of the time is not a problem, but it has started to get a little more agressive - not with any malice but she will shove & push, she will smack on the odd occassion and generally take things off him, claim everything for her own. Her toys are exclusively hers, which she reiterates over and over again. I respect this and try and teach my son that he has toys to and if she wants to play with her toys she gets first go, but the same doesn't work in return, she expects to be able to have his toys as well. I have tried pointing out (as has her Dad) that they all need to share and that it works both ways, but its falling on deaf ears.

This weekend, we had to carry my son back from the park - he is 2 years 8 months and potty training, he had an accident and wet his shoes, consequently we carried him back to the car. She constantly whinged and said it was her turn to be carried (despite that being back breaking work!) we explained that the only reason he was being carried was his accident, otherwise he would be walking.

Like I said it's nothing major, but just becoming more and more frequent. I want to nip it in the bud before it escalates more. Im very aware of how she feels that she is claiming Daddy and I feel and respect her feelings. But does anyone have some guidance on how to best deal with this, little things we can try and do?

I realise that it must be hard to have my son live with her Daddy full time, on one hand Im think it is just a phase we will have to ride through. On the other hand I don't want to just ignore if there is some reassurance we can provide for her. Would some time alone with Dad be a good idea, or would this reinfoce a divide for her.

Any tips would be appreciated

PonderingThoughts Wed 27-Aug-08 09:50:17

I'm no expert but I am part of a step family too and hope that my experience can help?!

My opinion on this would be that partly it is 'normal' behaviour, (in the same way as when a new sibling is born) and partly this is heightened by the fact that the new sibling is NOT a baby and nor is 'related' in that way.

I think 5 is quite a crucial age. I would certainly not ignore this behaviour but put plans in pace now to deal with it.

I think the 5YO NEEDS re-assurance from her dad. She is used to being the 'baby' and her position in the family has been stolen.

I think she should have set time alone with her dad, consistantly - where she can be the 'baby' (by that I mean the youngest, not regress in age/maturity). Have a set times that she knows is her time - whatever you/he can manage. Bathtime or Bedtime every day/every other day...or even just Saturday morning at the park or whatever.

I would also play on the 'grown-up' side. Make her fee special because she is 5! Very grown up. Big up the fact that she can do things that the 2.8yo can't. She can have certain sweets because she's a BIG girl, certain toys etc. Look how great she is at doing a forward-roll/dancing whatever...because she is 5 now! She gets extra praise for sharing her toys or gestures of kindness because she is a BIG girl and understands more etc..

Don't push her out of the 'youngest' spot but create her 'role' as the middle child (eek!) as a really positive thing.

Maybe get her a calendar or a diary where she can mark her and dad's 'special' time.
Get some childrens books about step families from the library and read them together when your LO is in bed.
Also maybe some childres books about when new babies arrive - I know it's not quite the same but I think some of her feelings will be the same.

It's hard, but you sound like you're in a really good position to make this work really well! Good luck x

2rebecca Wed 27-Aug-08 09:53:25

I would favour some time alone with her dad. I think alot of this is normal sibling rivalry, which is complicated by the fact that stepsiblings, esp ones who aren't with you all the time aren't siblings so will get treated differently as they have different parents and grandparents.
My son and stepdaughter had similar issues complicated by the fact that my son gets pocket money from his grandparents where as my stepdaughter doesn't from hers.
Do you stop one child spending his money so the other doesn't feel left out?
Husband and I try to treat them equally re treats, money etc.
Grabbing someone else's toys wouldn't be tolerated, but we generally expect them to share most toys, but then they're older now and prefer playing together.
Sometimes behaviour is tolerated in stepfamilies like the toy snatching and whinging that wouldn't be in a nuclear family. This can lead to selfish children with behaviour problems so we try to be firm with strops etc pretending we're a nuclear family on that front.
She probably would like some time alone with her dad to feel "special" though and to reduce resentment of your son.

Iaro Wed 27-Aug-08 10:46:11

2rebecca - you picked up on a point I'm very aware of, I don't want behaviour to become acceptable as we are a step family when it wouldn't otherwise be, but it's hard to find that balance sometimes I think. I am extremely lucky in that I have the support of both my partner and the ex that I will also play a parent type role when it comes to discipline and will be backed up by both, which makes life much much easier than it could be.

We have a family calendar in the kitchen where she has her own column and I think the idea of marking some time for her with Dad would be good, we will find time for that if need be. I didn't realise 5 was such a crucial age, I think maybe we need to actively encourage and reassure a little more than just ignoring it which I think we have been doing up until now.

fizzbuzz Thu 28-Aug-08 21:01:18

I guess you haven't been together long. 5 years is how long it is supossed to take a stepfamily to gel, and from my experience that was right for us.

She is in a new situation and hanging onto her toys is her way of protecting her territory. Taking someone elses is her way of showing her pwer. it is a new situation for her, and she hasn't had to compete with a younger child before, so she is staking her claim on her position now. This will all sort itself out in time, as she gets used to her new role within the family.

Also you have to be much more tolerant in stepfamilies than in normal families, and pick your battles. Whilst you don't want her behaviour to be acceptable, you may have to have some tolerance of it, more tolerance than if it was your own family.

I don't think you should ignore it, but not make a big deal about it. She sounds like it is insecurity driving her...but it will smooth out, when you have been together longer.

Stepfamilies are hard hard work!

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