The initial tendency is to want an immediate happy and functioning family – this is unlikely to happen instantaneously and is unfair to expect.
Anticipate leaving a period of time for adjustment, children will show you how slow or fast to go as you get to know them. Some kids will need extra time to warm up to you. Kids will spot it immediately if you try too hard or if you are not authentic, or if guilt makes you overcompensate. Aim to be respectful and attentive remembering that the kids don’t actually want to hate you even if they say so or it seems that way at first.
Use patience, time and insight to make the transition easier. Although kids of different ages and personalities will react differently, remember that all kids have basic needs and wants. Do your best to fulfil these needs and you have the foundation for a great relationship. Here are some basic needs to consider.
Security & consistency:
Children want to know their caretakers are dependable and reliable. Kids whose parents have divorced are likely to feel let down. Be consistent in what you say and do and keep any promises you make. Love & affection: Even the stormiest children want love. If you are a parent, give your children visible affection and love, if a new step-parent, offer verbal confirmation rather than hugs and kisses until you are sure they are ready for closer contact.
Recognition & value:
Engage kids in decisions and tell them about plans, events and happenings. Let them feel they are important and considered. Make space for them to speak their minds. Car journeys often present an environment that makes it easy for kids to speak about their issues or worries. Praise & encouragement: A child may pretend not to hear you or value your comments but essentially all children need honest praise and encouragement. This is the basis for growing self-esteem.
Honesty & openness:
Kids are expert at sniffing out dishonesty. Don’t think you will ever pull the wool over their eyes; they are incredibly sharp and always know more than you think. Discuss things with them simply and truthfully. This will make it easier for them to trust you.
Knowledge of boundaries:
Firm consistent rules and boundaries make kids feel secure. You may want to put up a list of house rules so kids know what’s expected of them. Knowing these rules apply to both sets of kids will help dispel feelings of unfairness.