How to deal with a step-child who is difficult

How to deal with a step-child who is difficult Feature Image

Parenting itself is a hard job and being a step-parent of someone is more challenging. Over time, things get smooth, and in the meantime, life goes on and on. Children have their image of the World. Sometimes the stepchildren are not tricky, but they need a little time and communication. 

While dealing with difficult stepchildren, It would help if you allowed them to express themselves. Try to listen to your stepchildren with empathy. Remain calm and never raise your voice on them. Sometimes, exclude them from doing their daily chores. Try to do some activities together. Always try to be there for them whenever they feel down or sad.


While dealing with difficult stepchildren, It would help if you allowed them to express themselves. Try to listen to your stepchildren with empathy. Difficult step-child is already dealing with the feeling of loss and confusion. Remain calm and never raise your voice on them. Sometimes, exclude them from doing their daily chores. Try to do some activities together. Always try to be there for them whenever they feel down or sad.

Here’s the list of things you should do and never do to deal with difficult stepchildren.


1. Accept the reality – You are not the biological parent.

No matter how much you try and love them, you will never be their biological parent. You don’t have to act like one. Initially, when you enter into someone’s life, you don’t know the traumas they have been through, and in the case of any teenager, don’t waste your energy.

2. Effective Communication – Talk about the elephant in the room.

Always remember most things remain complicated due to the communication gap. It would help if you talked about all the concerns and possible outcomes of your blended family’s future. Try to be optimistic and use a positive approach

The first time is always challenging, and next time it will be a little easy for both of you. Maybe you will be able to find a similar hobby or a book that you both love.

3. Always Dine together – A family who eats together stays together.

Try to have dinner together. No matter how busy you are, it would be best if you made a little sacrifice, and by doing this, you can know more about the daily lives of your stepchildren.


Here is your food of thought; most people always discuss their daily doings at the dinner table, which will be a win-win situation for you. The more you know about them, things will get regular more quickly.

4. Respect and Acceptance – Be it a Cultural or Orientation. 

No matter how much they show disrespect toward yourself. Always treat your stepchildren with respect. You should respect their orientation even if you don’t like it.

Do not pass any homophobic remarks, regardless of their preferences. Always show respect toward their beliefs and accept them with open arms.

5. Leave room for their biological parents – You’re not Alpha.

Some matters should always remain between your step-kid and their biological parents. Maybe they want to discuss something only with their parents, so you should always leave a little space for them.

Do not invade their personal space or try too hard to be their friend. By doing this, you surely can earn their much-needed respect.


1. Never abuse them – Cinderella’s Story involves law now.

You should never physically abuse your stepchildren. You should never physically abuse your stepchildren. You are not legally responsible for them. If you don’t want jail time, you can never think about beating them. 


It would be best if you considered going the extra mile for their mental health because they have seen the fairy tale ending, or in case of the death of their parents, life is already hard for them. 

2. Don’t take things personally – Ego is the enemy.

Ego has no palace in your relation with your step-child. You should be ready to listen to him/her yelling, “ You are not my Mom/Dad.”  For a progressive and healthy relationship, you can not afford to take things personally

3. Badmouthing – Listen double and speak half.

Always listen to your stepchildren with empathy and never badmouth them or their parents. They are already feeling a hard to adjust to you. 

Please don’t ruin your chance to be their friend by talking evil about your partner’s ex in front of kids. Your stepchild is already dealing with psychological trauma, and you don’t want to make it worse.

4. High Expectations – Disappointment will be your reward.

 We all wish to solve our problems with Abera-ca-Debora, but never expect too much from your step-children. Appreciate the little growth that you have made in your relationship. Considered other options, too, including a parent coordinator.

With time, you will notice positive changes in them for sure, but first, you have to invest all the effort and expect a little as a result. Don’t set high expectations as it may result in disappointment.

5. Not treating them equally – Stepchildren are the priority.

In blended families, every child is equal, but your stepchild should be considered a top priority. Always treat your stepchild with a bit of preference because you don’t want to start a new drama over the “Preference” issue. 

Try to serve them first to win their heart, or you can place them to number first until things get smooth.

Frequently Asked Questions.

Can a step-parent physically discipline stepchildren?

No, You cannot physically discipline your stepchildren. You can try unless it doesn’t involve spanking. It is not illegal, but you can end up having jail time if you beat them.

How do you survive marriage with stepchildren?

Try to spend some time with your stepchildren. Talk a lot about parenting and be open with them. Give proper time to your emotions, and don’t set expectations too high very early. You can always consider taking professional help.

Is it normal to resent stepchildren?

Yes, it is a normal thing to resent your stepson or stepdaughter. It is OK not to fall in love with your stepkids overnight. Just try to find the solution or root cause with time. 

Is it OK to want alone time or give some time to your stepchildren?

It is OK to have a little “me time.” It would be best if you always put your mental health at the top priority. It is excellent for your stepkids to have a little alone time themselves. You will feel much better after all you have been trying your best.

 4.  Why do your step- Children hate you?

Nobody wants to lose their parents and children, and It is hard to accept someone new into their life. You may have tried so much, but if you still feel that your Stepchildren hate you, here’s the list of why they hate you?.

  1. Loyalty. Children have their World. They feel like it will be a betrayal for their biological parents if they choose you over them.
  1.  You’ve stolen their parents. Your stepchildren think that you have stolen their father/mother as their biological parents have to divide time between you and them.
  2. Someone is feeding them bad things. It might be possible that they hate you because someone is turning them against you. That can be anyone from your partner’s ex to the person you hate.
  3. Communication gap. Maybe you have spoken with stepkids coldly or not friendly. A quick talk with them may resolve the issue.
  1. Sudden Changes. Don’t try to change their life all of a sudden. Maybe you are trying too hard to change their routine.
  1. You are replacing their Mom/Dad. You have replaced their mom or dad, but you can never be their “real” parent. You don’t have to act like you have got it all.
  2. Invade their space. We all hate that person who comes too near and invades our personal space. Please give them the space they want. Just don’t rush changes into their life.
  1. Quick family is just a myth. You cannot walk home and feel accepted. Maybe they hate you because you are part of the family and now an ally.
  1. You demand respect. Respect is consistently earned. Maybe you are missing just a point, or you are one step away from acceptance. Don’t think of any reward.
  1. They see you as a threat or competition. The perks and love that they used to enjoy alone with their biological parents. Now you are a partner in them. That drives jealousy and competition in them.


It is always hard for children to accept someone new into their life. As an adult or “step-parent,” you should always try to deal with things with Patience. Just as you know, Patience is critical. Being a step-parent, you don’t need them to love you, but they should always respect you. Just do not take things personally. Most of the blended families have great chances to survive as “Family” after five years. Give time and little space to things.

Sylvie White
Sylvie was born and raised in France. In 2010, she came to Newyork for studies and fell into the spell of central park. In 2018, she gave birth to beautiful twin daughters “Lilly and Rosa.” Having a degree in Early Childhood Education helps her a lot during nurturing. An experienced mommy on a mission to guide for the best.