Rule #1 Don't try to be mom or dad. Although you might be confused on what I mean if you are actually the step parent but despite the situation the child is going to have two places in his heart already accounted for which is 'mom' and 'dad' therefore this role is already taken. If the child is old enough to understand you can sit down with the child and tell them you are not "here" to replace mom or dad but simply add one extra person in their life that will be there for them. By doing this, you automatically ease the threat of taking one of those accounted places and the child will feel more at ease knowing you are not a replacement person. If the child is not old enough to understand than you are in a good place to show with your action that you are here to simply care, love, protect and get to know them. Also talk to your spouse about them being the main "disciplinary" as you are the new step parent and should only be focusing on creating a relationship. This does not mean you can't tell them to stop acting up, but you should start off not disciplining the child and slowly ease your way into it as you create a bond and trust with this child. If you jump right in and start getting a little coo coo you will most likely fail miserably in the long run and create a instant wall with you and the child!
Rule #2 Find something you know they enjoy and learn to enjoy it too. Through my experience, my step daughter really loved going roller skating so I took it upon myself to take her roller skating. Now don't confuse this step with buying love, this is not about money. But by showing the child consistently that you are interested in their interest they interpret that as you trusting them and they are more likely to open up to you and trust you. Also, this doesn't mean you do one thing and BAM you're "in" this is going to take time and effort on your part. Try to plan to do something they love at least once weekly. If they love to play with barbies, then join in!
Rule #3 If you are struggling with the child and not getting along, as much as you hate to admit it, the behavior of "your" relationship trickles down from you. You have the power to alter it into a better place, don't be the victim! For instance, my husband can get intense sometimes and when my husband is upset and bugged, the energy in the house feels the same until my husband changes his attitude. I'm sure many people can relate to that one person in the house who seems to hold the over-powering energy in the house. The same is true with the child and you, so if you are upset with them constantly this energy seems to be stagnant until 'you' change it. Unfortunately most children aren't at the maturity level to understand how to take responsibility for their action. I mean, truly understanding how they acted and how it affected you. Most children can say sorry but they are still unsure how that made you feel and how to move forward. They just do not possess these qualities at a young age. Even teenage years, the children are still immature to understanding this fully. Therefore, it is up to you to initiate the steps of diffusing a harsh situations.
You tell Molly she needs to get into the shower! 5 min later Molly is not in the shower and you are upset and feel she is disrespecting you by not listening and this frustrates you. Instead of huffing and puffing and talking in that bugged tone that we all have, sit down with her and figure out a way to defuse this situation. "Molly, you are not listening to me and this hurts my feelings, I care for you and only wish for us to get along. How about we set an alarm for 6:30 each evening and when it goes off it's shower time. This way you can take responsibility and I won't have to be upset." Think outside of the box on ideas!
Rule #4 Always use options with the children. Just like in advertisement, you think you are making your own decision but really you are limited to choices. Why does this work exceptionally well with children, well like most, people don't normally like to be told what to do. Although that is life, having options will LITERALLY save your life and leave you 10x less stressed.
Rule #5 Show your love through actions! Show up to every basketball game, to every picnic in the park. Just show up for them in general and support them! Show them love through pushing them to be the best and giving them validation they are doing great. Try to say words each day that involve, " "awesome job" "great idea" "you've got this, don't give up" "you're so smart" "I love you" "I enjoy being around you" "you crack me up" "you're funny." These feel good comments boosts their confidence and makes them feel at ease with you because you are giving them validation that you enjoy them!
"I didn't give you the gift of life, life gave me the gift of you."
If you guys want more tips on this specific topic I am happy to write more I know I can ramble on and on sometimes. Please let me know in the comment! Don't forget you can add a comment in "Share your Story" and give any advice and random tips you wish to share!