Being a step mum; the fine line between disciplining teenagers and being an evil stepmum
Disciplining children and especially teenagers can be a tough call. It becomes even harder when there are step children involved. As a stepmum, I have struggled with this and by the time I figured out how to strike a balance between disciplining with love and being dubbed the evil stepmother, I had gone through quite the motions.
When I came into Mike’s life, his children were still pretty young and with a lot going on, I did not know how I would relate with the children as they grew up. After we got married, I was in essence their primary caregiver and this meant that the question of discipline would be inevitable. By now, the older children were teenagers and I wanted to be very careful with how I dealt with this lest I turn to the evil stepmother.
The good thing is that Mike and the children’s bio mother helped a lot so I did not feel overwhelmed with having to discipline the children on my own.
As a stepmum, I already understood my kids and since I loved them as my own, I never once thought I was disciplining them as strangers and this helped with our different relationships.
Disciplining Teenagers: Dos and Don’ts
Communication is key
Just like any other relationship, it is important to communicate freely with your child. Disciplining a teenager will only be effective if you communicate the rules and limits and that both parties are on the same page. Let your child know what they can and cannot do and that choices have consequences.
Create a warm and loving family environment
A warm family environment creates a safe space for children and they feel safe even when they make mistakes. Children that are raised in loving families can control their behavior better while being guided by their parents.
Disciplining teenagers and especially as a stepmother calls for negotiation which is an integral part in their growth and thought process. A teenager is becoming a young man or woman of their own and when you negotiate as a parent, you show they that you respect them and their ideas. Negotiation is also important as it helps teenagers understand the importance of compromise in their future decision-making.
Agree on clear and defined limits
- Be clear and concise about the behavior you expect
- Agree in advance, what the consequences of mistakes will be
- Always be willing to adjust rules
- Always use descriptive praise such as “Thank you for tidying your room” when your teenager follows through on the agreed limits
Consequences when disciplining teenagers
- Ensure the consequence fits the mistake or misbehavior
Teenagers will know when the punishment is too severe or too lenient. Make sure that the consequences imposed match with the severity of the mistake. If they came home late, for instance, after going out to play with or visit their friends, a fair consequence would be to make them come home earlier than the agreed upon next time meaning they get less time with their friends.
- Withdraw your cooperation
Make your teenager understand where you are coming from. Your point of view and perspective will facilitate the give and take response that is required when disciplining teenagers.
Application: Ensure your child is aware that in the event that they break the set rules, you are at liberty to withdraw your cooperation. An example is, “If you would like me to keep paying for the Netflix subscription, you need to do all your assigned chores on time”.
This is explicit that if they fail to perform their tasks, then they won’t enjoy flipping through Netflix.
- Withdraw their privileges
This disciplining method is all about denying the teenager something that you know he or she enjoys. An example would be taking away their phone.
Make sure that the children are aware of the impending consequence so that they get to weigh their options and do mistakes at their own peril.
This method has to be used sparingly because when over-used, it will not be effective.
In whatever you do especially when it comes to instilling discipline to teenagers, always encourage the children to think about their actions and how it can affect their futures.
Discipline with love.