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momto3almost
momto3almost asks:
Q:

How do I get my 5 year old stepdaughter to stop manipulating her father?

My fiance has two daughters (ages 5 and 6). Both seem to like me. The older one likes me quite a bit more than the younger one. I have been a part of their lives for one year now. Lately, the younger daughter has started doing everything possible to get Daddy's attention. She asks to be picked up and held all the time. She interrupts people when they are talking to her Daddy so that he has to turn his attention to her and she cries constantly to get his attention. At night, she consistently wakes up at 2:30 am and wants her Daddy to come lay with her. After he checks on her, he tries to come back to bed but she just cries more until he finally has to put her on the couch downstairs and lay with her there so that she won't wake the whole house up. It is getting unbearable. She does this every single night. It is really starting to affect my fiance as he is not getting a good nights rest at night and we are not getting to spend nights in the same bed anymore. He is still in the process of an extremely messy divorce that has lasted for 15 months now so he coddles both of the girls whenever they are here.  He has 50/50 custody with his ex so the girls are here 3-4 nights a week.  This is not going to be a healthy way to start our new life together. Any suggestions? Thanks!
In Topics: Sleep and rest, Discipline and behavior challenges, Blended families
> 60 days ago

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Expert

Wayne Yankus
May 4, 2010
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What the Expert Says:

Remember these children are his and he alone needs to practice some tough love. Until he puts his foot down, the picture won't change.  Read Dr. Ferber's book on sleep issues and work with your fiance to move in the direction of the sleep pass.  Each child gets one pass to have dad's attention with limits each night. Once the pass is used, Dad is not coming back until morning and they are expected to be in bed.  Stick with it.  According to Dr. Joyce Brothers who has also commented on the "divorce year" your living with him now is confusing to the kids.  Start fresh when the divorce is final and your the new step mom.

Wayne Yankus, MD, FAAP
expert panelist: pediatrics
Resources:

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Additional Answers (7)

ShirleyCressDudley
ShirleyCres... , Teacher, Child Professional, Parent writes:
Iâm sorry to hear youâre having a tough time. Blended families are difficult and require some extra steps to help kids adapt.  Itâs hard to answer such a complicated question in a  few brief paragraph-, but Iâll give you a few tips:

Establish House Rules
Since you are engaged to be married, talk with the kids (with dad taking the lead) about how this new family of yours needs to establish their own set of house rules and guidelines.  You and your husband should discuss what expectations and guidelines are appropriate for the kids- such as not interupting adults when talking; going to bed early, if they donât have a solid nightâs sleep the night before; keeping their room cleaned up; being respectful to adults, etc.

Also discuss how this new family of yours will be starting some new traditions.  Plan some fun activities for the whole family, and create some new traditions of your own.  Remind the kids that if they donât respect/obey the house rules, some of these planned activities will be cancelled.  (Remind their dad to enforce the consequences of not obeying the rules, or they are just words- and the kids will soon learn they mean nothing.) Offer rewards at the end of the week for good behavior.

Kids Are Still Grieving the Divorce
The words â15 monthsâ and âmessy divorceâ explain a lot too. The kids, especially the younger one, are greiving the divorce and also very upset about their parents continual fighting.  Itâs important for their dad to talk to them and convey some basic thoughts:
-I love you. Even though Mommy and Daddy are now living in two separate homes, Mommy and Daddy will always love you.
-Daddy is getting married and she will be your stepmommy.  She doesnât take the place of your mom, but is an extra adult in your life to love you and take care of you.
-Daddy and ____ (you) need adult time at night.  If you interupt this time, we will have to take some play time away during the day to make up for this.

It would also be a good idea to find a therapist who has experience with kids and let her participate in some play therapy. It would help for her to have a 3rd party, outside the family, to talk to and receive some help.

When divorce and remarriage occur (one or both) kids are just âbouncing off the wallsâ- wondering whatâs happeningâ¦what are the new rules?  What is expected of me?  Whatâs going to happen to me?  Itâs important for their Dad to talk to them and reassure them. But- this is not time to coddle them, or back off on the rules.  Kids need boundaries and guidelines- these rules actually help them feel safe and secure.

Below are links to several articles that will give you more help.  It will take a few nights- but adding some boundaries to the bedtimes and behavior of the kids will make a dramatic and positive difference in your lives. Good luck with your blended family.  I wish you the best.

Shirley Cress Dudley, MA LPC
Blended and Step Family Expert
Founder of The Blended and Step Family Resource Center

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Friendforyou
Friendforyou writes:
It sounds like the younger one is needing some uninterrupted daddy-time.  I would suggest making sure that both girls get some alone time with dad every day they are there.  When the one is with dad, you can spend some quality time with the other.  Then spend some time all together.  The little one may be having nightmares, separation, etc. and really needs to have dad read stories, tuck her in, and reassure her his love for her.  I would suggest you enjoy your alone time when you have it and find a way to support your fiance.  The last thing you want for your fiance is to feel pulled between his daughters and you.  With time and lots of patience, the girls will respond in kind.  There will be time to set up new traditions, etc.  But it is most important for the girls to be connected to dad and develop a positive, non-threatened relationship with you.  Every once in awhile, go out with your friends and let dad have alone time with both of his girls.  Maybe suggest to dad that he buy a special bracelet/ring etc. for each of his girls and they will know that dad will always be with them.  An excellent book is The Five Love Languages of Children- this may be helpful to both of you.  Good luck!
> 60 days ago

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newstepmom
newstepmom writes:
Wow your situation is almost a mirror image of mine!  I am engaged to be married to my fiance, who is a father of 2 (a 4 yo daughter and 6 yo son). The 6yo son seems to like me a lot more than the younger one (as in  your situation). I have been a part of their lives for 16 months now and have been living together with them for 3 months.  We have the kids durning the week and their mom has them on the weekends and some other extra days here and there.  It didn't seem like manipulation to me until just last night when the 4 yo wanted daddy to lay with her at 2:30am because she was "scared".  She was doing this before at least 1-3 nights a week. However, my fiance was out of town for 2 weeks and during those 2 weeks, she did not once come in my room to wake me up saying that she was scared and wanted me to lie with her.  I did notice a couple of mornings she had crawled in bed with her older brother, though.  But as soon as dad returned just a few days ago, she started this again.  Now it is apparent that she just does it for his attention.  She is definitely a daddy's girl, but I'm just afraid this will continue and could get worse as she gets older.  I've brought it up to him before about her constantly wanting to lay with him in our bed or him going to lay with her, but I'm not sure that it's getting through because "she's only 4" or "they're growing up so fast, it seems harsh to not want to lay with them".
> 60 days ago

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elizabethlute
elizabethlute writes:
i think there's a lack of communication and explaination for both the girls, and father let's the youngest to commandeer the situation.  To let her get her get  away with it is a detriment to her as a whole.  Have him just sit in a chair and hold her, rock her like you'd do for an infant and put her back in her own bed.  I would also casually ask her or her sister if their mother is trying to sabotage your future, since young one's her age are more than happy to tell all from my experience:-D
> 60 days ago

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tall-Rhonda
tall-Rhonda writes:
You wont be able to stop that!!!! Daddy is the problem, he allows it!!! And the more he allows it the worse it will get! And when or if he trys to change it, the longer he gets manipulated the harder it will be to break. Tantrums will arise big time. So maybe talk to him about it, because as the child gets older its not going to be fun!
> 60 days ago

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kazandra
kazandra writes:
thats normal your step duaghter  dosent really accepts that her parents are not togther
> 60 days ago

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sweetieincinci-oh
sweetieinci... , Parent, Teacher writes:
I suggest talking to your fiance. He may feel guilty for the divorce and doesn't want the children to "hate him because he left mom". Which might be why he lets them do what they want and gives in. He needs to be the parent and establish rules. It may be horrible for a while but in the end...the girls will thank him for it...
> 60 days ago

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