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April Fool's Day Can Solve Blended Family Problems?


Build Strong Relationships to Solve Blended Family Problems

Aprils Fool's Day is just around the corner. This day of silly pranks and jokes can be funny, embarrassing, and sometimes hurtful when jokes are not well thought out or received, but they can also contribute to, or be evidence of, a good relationship.

Think, for a moment, about the adults from your childhood who provided the most positive influence in your life. Why do you fondly remember them?  As you remember, note the type of relationship you had. Maybe these memories are treasured because of the tremendous love they had for you, and that you returned. Maybe this person provided the greatest sense of protection and feelings of security.  Or perhaps you had great respect and admiration for a favorite teacher who inspired you and challenged you to do more.

Watch this fun video of students playing an April Fool's Day joke on their professor. Watch his response. What kind of relationship do you think he and the class have?

Did you notice how he took into consideration this female student and was apologetic when he realized the sensitivity of the situation? How do you think students respond to this professor when he asks them to perform?  Do you think they are more likely to listen and respond to a professor who knows them individually and interacts with them vs. one who teaches from a distance?

Now that you've remarried and have a blended family, how do you think your step children will respond when you ask them to do something if you have a good relationship vs. no relationship, or a bad relationship? If you have a step-child who is struggling, after you and your wife blended your families, good relationships are essential when you need to solve problems. These relationships are the most powerful component to influence, teach, motivate and change behavior. So what can you do to create positive relationships with your children and step children?

6 Best Ways to Build Positive Relationships With Step–Children

  1. Create a Feeling of Safety and Security–Children are far more likely to engage with you if they feel safe and can trust you. You know how you feel when children violate your trust. Imagine how a child feels when an adult, authority figure, violates their trust. It can leave lasting impressions. Cultivate trust and help children feel secure by creating unity and closeness in your blended family, heal pain and emotional emptiness brought on by the divorce or death of a parent, pay attention to emotional needs and help children understand what they are feeling, master your own emotions. Work at maintaining emotional control, and exhibit integrity. Children watch parents very closely; be and act the way you want children to.

  2. Be Consistent–Being consistent is a powerful method of creating a sense of security. Children are insecure when they are not familiar with what is expected of them. This often a common reason children struggle in school–they simply don't understand what is expected with due dates, homework, studying, sitting and listening, self-control, etc. If they feel insecure around you, or in their new home, they are going to spend more time thinking about how they can find security (which is likely away from you) than they will spend engaging with you.

  3. Get to Know Kids Individually–Getting to know your step-children better shows you are sincerely6 Methods to Build Relationships interested in and care about them. What are their likes and dislikes? What are they good at? Where do they struggle? Not only will knowing the answers to these questions help you know these kids, but knowing these things will help you to better address problems or concerns. For example, if a child has anxiety but is good at a sport and practices regularly to improve, you can use this as a way to teach how to overcome anxiety and fear. All sports are new to the child in the beginning, but after a lot of practice they improve and enjoy themselves. Anxiety is rooted in the fear of the unknown. They simply need help navigating through this fear to realize they can overcome and make the unknown known.

  4. Involve Kids With Decisions–There are two good reasons involving kids in decisions. 1) Being included in decisions helps children to feel empowered and less controlled. And this sense of self-control helps children to feel more free and less controlled and put upon by parents. 2) If children violate the terms of an agreement–whether they are long-standing family rules or a curfew, or a temporary agreement for going to a friend's house or a  weekend party–you have far more influence in this situation. Children are now faced with having to realize they violated their own agreement. This self reflection can often be far more persuasive than your lectures and possible punishments.

  5. Be FlexibleBeing flexible does not mean being passive. Rules are important for family structure, and learning to keep and respect them can be a good tool for teaching responsibility. But sometimes it might be OK to temporarily suspend certain rules. Rules are often most effective–or followed by children–when children feel they are heard and understood, instead of blindly required to obey. Consider moments when children may benefit from a change in the rules–for example, when children ask to go to a friend's house or a party. Maybe the time frame conflicts with curfew, but after discussing with your child what the expectations are: where they will be (and not leaving without notifying you of new location), who will be there, what they will be doing, checking in with you when they are home so you know they are home safe, etc., this can be a great opportunity to help a child learn to be responsible. And if they happen to violate the agreement, you may consider allowing them to go out again at a later, and perhaps deserved time, so they can practice responsibility again, because it is difficult to learn without practice. Use discretion, of course.

  6. Focus on Feelings–We all have feelings. And we all feel frustrated when we feel our emotions are not understood. Parents included. We feel frustrated and disrespected when rules are not followed or our concerns are not listened to. And instead of communicating our frustration, we yell our disapproval. Did you ever stop to think how the statement, "They just won't listen!" can fit for both parents and children? The difference is, parents are adults and need to be an example and leader in the family–showing patience, restraint, and understanding that a child has not yet developed. Two important reasons why focusing on feelings is important: 1) Taking a moment to consider feelings helps parents to remain calm and maintain a situation where communication, understanding, and improvement is far more likely, 2) Identifying underlying emotions can help avoid intense arguments because you can be talking about what is really going on. Sometimes we just need to be aware of our children's feelings. Maybe their outbursts or seeming inconsideration for the rules is an expression of emotions the child is struggling with. Pay attention to your step-children's feelings. Match your attention and responses accordingly. At the very least, you'll be yelling less, and this can be a good enough reason alone.

If you feel your relationship is in a good place, or you feel your kids can enjoy a good joke–consider these fun ideas for April Fool's Day jokes for kids. And have a good time creating a new identity for your blended family by creating strong relationships with your children and step-children, so you can more easily solve blended family problems.


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