Home > Mom's Life > Family Relationships > Nontraditional Families > Stepfamilies > Stepparents and Alternative Discipline Techniques
|

Expert Iconexpert advice MORE

Stepparents and Alternative Discipline Techniques

Toddler and Teenager Expert Advice from Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW

Q: Corporal punishment is a hot topic these days; however, when practiced by a stepparent it can lead to charges of child abuse, criminal assault or both. What are some alternatives for a stepparent when dealing with hostile, strong-willed, or wilfully disobedient step-children, in a way that properly enforces parental authority, and yet allows the child to safely express feelings and opinions?

A: Hitting children as a form of discipline or punishment is a form of child abuse in my opinion and has no place in the healthy raising of children. Disciplining your stepchildren is a tough task, a difficult one for any stepparent even in the best of situations. I appreciate your sincere desire to discover the best ways to handle a difficult situation.

First, if possible, I think that the natural parent should attempt to fill the role of the disciplinarian; the stepparent should be supportive and not try to take over this role. Children are bound to be resentful at some level of "the new husband," especially at the beginning. Add to this resentment of the stepparent for ordering them around and punishing them, and you've got a major family problem that can easily escalate into an ongoing war.

I think that as hard as this sounds to you, you should not take their behavior personally. If you can enter into a co-disciplinarian role with your wife, you should never discipline the kids without your wife's cooperation and approval. Don't take charge of these kids and don't have disagreements over the kids in front of them.

Two good resources to begin your learning with are: The Parent's Handbook by Don Dinkmeyer and Gary D. McKay and Discipline Without Shouting or Spanking by Jerry Wyckoff and Barbara C. Unell.

Good luck. I know you might be at your wits' end but you clearly want to do best by these kids. I applaud you for your efforts.

More on: Expert Advice

Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.


Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks

highlights

12 Pumpkin Activities and Crafts for Kids
Pumpkins and gourds are perfect for fall fun and games with the kids. Find the best pumpkin activities, crafts, printables, and recipes to enjoy with your children this Halloween season.

Kindergarten Readiness App Wins Gold
Our Kindergarten Readiness app won the Gold Award of Excellence in the educational category at the 2014 Communicator Awards. This valuable checklist comes with games and activities to help your child practice the essential skills she needs for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

15 Best Slow Cooker Meals
Too busy to cook? Try one of these deliciously easy slow cooker meals and have dinner waiting when you get home!

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books!
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our new Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme, and create reading lists for kids!