How do you parent pre teens?

I have twin step-daughters from my husband’s first marriage. Before that, I wasn’t a mom. We had been dating about six months (we have been together four years now) before I met them, and at about a year of us dating, the kids asked if they could start calling me mom; I had told them they could call me whatever they choose, but of course, I’d never replaced their mother. Their real mom had custody at first, so it was hard because we knew she’s was abusive, but we could never prove it until we could. Then not long after, Covid hit, and I convinced her since we don’t live in the city to let them stay here, and she could continue to collect child support. She agreed. They have been with us a year now, and we just had our first daughter together not too long ago. The kids have stepped up and love being a big sister and absolutely love their sister, they are excelling in school, and they have been gaining weight that was needed. But they are going to be turning 11 this year, and I know there are about to be a lot of changes. And with their dad being gone for a week at a time for work, I’m on my own. Does anyone have any advice? How do I discipline them when I know they grew up? Be firm but not too firm? Be understanding and gentle but not too gentle to where they don’t take me seriously? They don’t have phones and don’t really have any kids their age to hang out with either. I do make time for them, and we have ‘girl time.’


If have to punish them send them to room are something thears still time out and corners are what’s so ever and just talk to them as if you would you lil one when get older , and don’t for get about how you was as a teen

Trust your instincts momma, the fact that you are so sensitive to their situation and how to best approach it means you are doing it right!! Kudos!


Sounds like you have it down. Continue what you are doing. Love is the most important and Listening.


This worked for my son , it’s not for all kids but if he had to go to his room / time out he would just yell he wanted out well my rule was your time dosen’t start till your quite, this did not work for him and I felt he was focused more on getting out then why he was in . So I started tell him he could get out when he could write a paper / story abt what he did and what the consequences could be and how he could do better . I started this at abt 2nd grade and expected more as he got older . It did two things

  1. He was now in charge of when he got out , no more yelling .
  2. He had to think abt his actions and solutions abt his actions.
    He was a smart young man and this worked wonders. Plus I keep it all in a note book so we could read it later and see his growth .
    Just one idea

I find the most important part of any punishment is the conversation after. My kids are 13 and 10 and punishment is usually taking away devices. The initial response is always them (and me) being upset. There is not a lot that can be communicated when emotions are running high. Once things cool off I have the “you are punished because
the rule is x and you did y.” Then finishing up with “because as your mom it’s my job to teach you… “ and lastly “because I love you very much.”

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Have them write apology letters to who they hurt in whatever they did…be it themselves, you, dad, neighbor, whoever

Remember, they are human first. I have to remind myself that even I have bad days with bad attitudes for no reason. I recognize it tho, and that is what I teach my 11 yo daughter. There are going to be bad days. Let’s talk through it, work through the feelings. And sometimes, she’s just being a little shit and needs reminded I’m the mama bear… It’s balance.

If there are no problems now don’t make any enjoy your life one day at a time just love them


You may get lucky and not have a lot of issues. I have twin daughters (now almost 18). One, I’ve not had a single issue out of. The other, I had some attitude issues mid-teens, but other than that, no issues. I’ve always been extremely open and honest with my girls and in return, they have done the same. If you aren’t so lucky, just use compassion, you were a pre-teen/teenage girl once also. Always make the punishment fit the crime.

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Sit down with your step-daughters n talk about it.

One thing you don’t want to do is use their past as an excuse to let them get away with stuff. Be a parent and don’t be too soft or they will walk all over you. Of course be fair. Children needs discipline, rules, and structure. Oh yeah and also be fun.


There isnt a one size fits all for parenting. Depending on what they did would determine the punishment. That can range from loss of cellphone privileges, taking away things they really enjoy using at home, grounding and so forth. It can be hard to find a middle ground especially during puberty stages. Don’t punish out of anger and try to see where they’re coming from when making a decision if they get into trouble or come to you for something. As far as girl time, that could be any time the baby is gonna sleep for a few hours, you can just spend those few hours with them doing whatever they like at home


It sounds like you’re doing a great job and the most important thing is to care and love them. I read a lot of great parenting books by Meg meeker I would highly recommend her!


Love that you are there for them when they need you the most. You are doing a great job so far. I believe that if you are open and honest with them and continue to encourage them to be then things will work out. Keep up the great job. God Bless


All sit down with dad and have him lay out rules and punishments written down and gone over w everyone in agreement! If they refuse the consequences of punishment then they deal with dad when he gets home.


Sounds like ur doing great as it is. Parent them as u would parent ur own. The only thing that will really change in the next few years is puberty. Explaining that will be the hardest part. Other than taking cell phones and grounding them from friends and weekend activities u should be fine until boys become an issue. Lol because they were abused though it’s a really thin line on whooping them and u have 2 know when they are pulling the emotional card 2 get their way.

I have twin girls that are now 15 let me tell you something I have found for them that the same punishment does not work for both of them. I was trial and error. However speaking to them has always been the first step and also asking them once they realized their error I asked them what they thought their punishment should be. I didn’t always accept what they thought but it was always considered

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Be firm and loving. Stay consistent

If there’s no problems don’t discipline them

I believe she is asking because, as she stated, the mother was abusive and maybe they need different discipline methods.

To answer, honestly it really depends on the type of abuse they endured. My biggest advice is to avoid yelling. You could always do therapy and they’d have recommendations but it sounds like they are doing well.

There’s not a single way to do it, every kid is different and needs different rules/boundaries
But my biggest advice is talk to them often… Check in how they are feeling about everything, and take it seriously… If they miss their mom, feel like baby sister is getting more love, are lonely, are heartbroken… Believe it all and deal with it… Even if you think it’s silly. Communication is so important and if you take their little crushes, and teenage struggles seriously they will be more likely to come to you with the big stuff

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My daughter is almost 15 now and communication is the key to everything. Make them comfortable about letting them tell you about every aspect of their lives. Let them express themselves because if they can trust you with little things then they’ll be comfortable with the big things…which in the long run makes it easier to discipline because you’ve already gained their respect. Same goes for you. Talk to them as well no matter how big or small it is. I’ve used this method since my daughter was little and we’ve always had an excellent relationship. Because our respect goes both ways disciplining is easy because she respects due to constant communication

Definitely be understanding. Talk to them about what they’re feeling. In a situation like this, they may become overwhelmed with so many kinds of feelings. They may be trauma bonded to their mother and miss her, even though she was abusive. Then they might be confused and frustrated because they don’t know why they miss her. They may have trauma responses that come out when they’re stressed out.

I’d recommend helping them calm down whenever they’re acting out and find out what they need, what they’re feeling. And once all is calm, explain why what they did was wrong. And it needs to be corrected. Tell them you’ll continue to help help through everything, but the problematic behavior needs to be corrected. So be kinda firm, but also understanding and calming.


As any female, to get respect, you have to give respect. This goes both ways. You are great with stepping up. If they are having a hard time (missing mom, friends, etc) have a “safe place” that whatever is said in that place doesn’t leave that place, and no yelling at each other. Remind them, and yourself that they are going through a lot. You got this because you care.

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Talk. Talk. Talk. All I can really tell you as a mom of three adult children is talk a lot and keep talking. Stay engaged in what they are doing. Do they like sports? Crafts? Karate? Cooking? Make up? Talk about their concerns…what’s going on in their peer group, school, the world? You have to ask because they won’t always say but they are always thinking. Tell them about your experiences when you were their age (good and bad) so they know how to handle things. Girls especially have things happening to their bodies they don’t know are NORMAL. TALK ABOUT IT! Tell them it’s normal to have questions and that they can come to you. AND THEN the first time they do DONT FREAK OUT!!! If you freak (no matter how hard it is not to) you risk them not coming to you anymore. When they get in trouble ask what’s going on. Phone call from school… I’ll talk to my kid to find out their side and get back to you. You to the kid…the school called …can you tell me what happened? NEVER start in on your kid before you’ve heard their side!! EVER! Listen. Listen. Listen.


Have a Bible centric household. Church youth groups…Bible studies with family.

As an abuse survivor, I can tell you its way to easy to go the other way and have no boundaries. ALL children need boundaries. If they dont follow the rules, they get a punishment and you have to stick to it. It plays a big difference in how they will see themselves, are they survivors or simply victims. Make sure the punishment fits the rule they broke and that they understand them, heck make them part of the process. Do a family activity that outlines the house rules and do another that outlines fair punishment for breaking a rule.


Talk. I have an 11 and 12 year old and the feelings first approach has worked wonders. Alot of times something else is going on.

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When dad is home sit down and discuss the expected rules so they see a united front. Let them have a say in the rules and expectations as well as consequences. I would also look into counseling for the abuse if they aren’t already receiving it. A therapist can help them deal with trauma and provide ways that you can help them as well. The biggest thing is to be fair, consistent, and show appropriate ways to show all emotions especially the negative ones.

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Get them journals. Have them write in it every night. If they have something to say or something to talk about that they aren’t really comfortable doing face to face they can leave it on your bed and you can respond (if necessary) and return it to their rooms in the morning. Its a great outlet for any child at any age. It’s a safe way for them to let out their emotions and its a great way for us mommas to feel like we are giving them support but also respecting their space.


Keep talking to them. Explain, express your worries, thoughts and advice them. You’re already doing a great job! Tell them that you’re always there for them to talk anything they want, and you’ll always advice them the best you can. This way you show them your love and respect. I’m sure they will return this. Show your interest and they will show it to you as well.

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They need to know they can talk to you even if its uncomfortable… or if theres a possibility of them feeling they will be in trouble, talk it out. Let them know they are heard and also SAFE. Emotions and social skills are hard to understand and learn to control, just be the best role model you feel you can be, dont contradict what you preach and you will be just fine

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Talk for sure! i have a 12 year old that i met a little over 6 months after i started dating her daddy when she was 5 she calls me mum and i consider her every bit as much my daughter as the 2 year old who came out of me. We do week on week off with her mom. My husband works out of town all week so its just me and the girls. First id say be persistent when u make a rule stick to it and they will know the line cant be pushed. I make sure my kids know the rules and fully understand they do not have to follow them but if they choose to break a rule they are choosing to have to deal with the consequences. Usually when my oldest gets in trouble she does a minute wall sit. And after her minute i ask her why she got in trouble then i ask how she can prevent it in the future. We talk about why she made that choice and if it was worth it for her. As for making time. before bed i read her “are u there god its me Margaret” i just read her a chapter or two a night and she loves it. Its our special together time. I would also suggest dance parties and make overs. Both my girls love when we blast the music and jump and dance around like crazy people. Try to make time for each of them individually even if its just 30 mins a week or something, to make them feel special. Also just want to throw out there being a bonus mom is hard and u asking questions just shows how much u care about these girls so ur already on the right path :heart:


You sound like a wonderful mother so far. I’m seeing TONS of fantastic advise for you already. Talking IS HUGE though. My son and I sit down and talk about almost everything. I don’t force him to talk if he doesn’t want but make it clear I’m always there when he’s ready FOR ANYTHING. I don’t have girls, who are whole different animal at that age! My son is 14 now we have whole different set of problems than you but talking is so very important. Be clear in the rules, your expectations, theirs AND make sure you actually follow through with them and your decided punishments AND rewards. Like if they are getting allowances for chores they do to help out around the house it’ll teach them SO much. I’m going to stick to just this since I have a son and it’s really, really different from girls lol.

They don’t write a manual for those kind of things unfortunately lol but you seem to have everything under control.

Be firm, and understanding. But not a pushover. It’s a fine line between the two. I find alot of the time I get further with my 13 year by having a conversation.

Talk to them,like they are real people…all the time and don’t stop.

Love them like your own . It sounds like you are off to a good start. Communication is important!

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Set reasonable rules, stick to them, have three children, all college grads, all married for 20 plus yea rs have families all successful in their jobs. Have religion in their lives as my wife and I

Do what you feel in your gut is right and what you would do if had given birth to them yourself…i think you got this

Learn their love languages. “Can I have a hug”=touch…“do you like my picture”=words of affirmation…“will you push me on the swing”=quality time… “Is that present for me”=gift giving… “Can you do my hair”= acts of service. Listen and do. Sanitary products in the open. Menstruation is nothing to hide or be ashamed of. Options! Tampons! Reusable items like period panties or cups! Panty liners! Have the sex talk cover sexuality.

Definitely talk to their dad about punishment and discipline if he is able to at the time.
But they also need to know just because you are “stepmom” doesn’t mean they can walk over you.

The same way you intend to discipline your daughter.

Having similar struggles with my boys. Just read Raising Humans by Dr Greene and blew my mind… in a good way. Really good techniques for getting everyone moving in the same direction

I’m a step mom of an 11 year old girl. Me and her dad have been together for 7 years. Married for a few months.

Try to become their ‘safe place’. Be the one that they come to to tell secrets. To talk about boys, periods and puberty. Talk about having mutual respect for each other. A lot. Talk about how much you love their dad. Take a day off from school and hang out in bed with movies and snacks.

Treat them like your best friend. At a certain point they will learn to trust you and understand that you have their best interest at heart. Because, you actually do.

When it comes time to punish them, obviously don’t use violence. Take something away.

When my step daughter gets in trouble, we take privileges away. Such as, time with friends, make up or tv/screen time.

Also, explain why what they did is wrong and give them an example of the better choice they could’ve made.

How do their parents, mainly their father want them disciplined? Ask him instead of idiots on Facebook :roll_eyes:

Talk and make sure they dont over think things like Im this age so this should be happening, and most importantly tell them that romcoms and chick flics are lies all of it is bs. They dont have to do all the weird cheese crap they see on tv or do the things in movies either make sure they know the realistic stuff too it’ll help alot