Every parent has been there. As children grow and develop, the “why” becomes an incessant mantra that makes you wish you had a fully remote-controlled child with a mute button. Sadly, this isn’t the case. We must suffer through the endless hours of questions, the perpetual clinginess, and the ceaseless need for validation. When wondering how to deal with a stepchild who is annoying, you need to remember that this is all a process that every parent goes through in their journey.
Children are fortunate that we love them so much; otherwise, we might drop them at the fire station and run. I’m only half-joking. After seven hours of explaining the same concept over and over again, even the most patient of parents reach their limit.
Know that there isn’t a single parent I’ve spoken with that hasn’t, at one point or another, wanted to pull their hair out or run and hide in the car with a bag of chocolate and blissful silence.
I’m going to apologize ahead of time, as nothing I say will change this behavior. It’s a stage that every well-adjusted child goes through. Hopefully, though, with a bit of understanding, you’ll be able to suffer through this while knowing that for one, it will eventually end and that this process is part of shaping their development.
Don’t worry! I do have a few ideas at the end you can try that should lessen the frequency, at the very least.
Why, Why, WHY?!
What’s important to understand is the why behind this behavior. There are many ways a child can be annoying but the 2 most common ways are:
- Asking too many questions
- Being Flatout Annoying
As parents, we need to remeber that learning how to deal with a stepchild who is annoying is all part of the process of parenthood and that this will be a great learning experiance.
When dealing with these issues, try to be in a calm state of mind and just analyze what is going on and learn every time how you can make this situation become less of a problem over time.
When Your Step Child Is Asking Too Many Questions
When it comes to how to deal with a stepchild who is annoying with how many questions they ask, you need to understand that children are curious creatures. They turn towards those they trust to get the answers they need.
So, while this behavior can seem annoying, the fact that your stepchild is turning to you means that you’re well on your way to transitioning from stepparent to parent. That feels good, doesn’t it?
This Behavior Is Normal
Yes. This behavior is 100% normal, and here’s why: children take their cues from those around them. A child views the world through the lens of their environment, and a happy, well-adjusted child is bursting with eagerness to consume a thorough understanding of everything.
When you’re in the middle of something, they see that you have an intrinsic understanding of your actions, and they want to emulate you by understanding it themselves.
Take cooking, for example. How many times have you been interrupted while chopping vegetables? “What are you doing? Why are you doing that? What’s that? Why did you put it there? Can I help? Why not?” By the end of that diatribe, your brain is spinning, but let’s break down each question from the child’s point of view.
What are you doing? – I see you’re doing something with something, and I want to know what it is.
Why are you doing that? – I know your actions mean something, and I want to know what.
What’s that? – I want to have the words to talk about it later.
Why did you put it there? – I know that you have a reason, but I’m not sure what it is.
Can I help? – I want to be helpful so that you value me and spend time with me.
Why not? – I don’t understand that what you’re doing is dangerous.
Each and every question that is asked and answered is building pathways in their brain. They’re learning to put words to actions, to identify implements, to understand the process, and what the boundaries are with dangerous items.
This back and forth seems simple to you, but to them, they’re building an entire cache of knowledge.
The problem for us, as parents and stepparents, is that these interactions happen all day long, and you feel like you’re constantly explaining yourself. It’s tedious and exhausting. Those six questions were only aimed at chopping vegetables. That’s only part of making dinner, and dinner is only part of your evening, and your evening is only part of your day, and you have six more dinners to cook this week. That’s why we feel annoyed.
The other problem is that children sometimes don’t automatically understand that you’re doing the exact same thing the next time you’re chopping vegetables.
If the veggie color, knife, chopping block, lighting, or even time of day is different, for them, it’s a whole new experience, and the questions start all over again.
This Is Proof They Feel Safe
A child that doesn’t ask questions is a child that doesn’t feel safe.
They’ve learned in their short time on Earth that asking questions results in indifference or anger directed at them, and in the saddest cases, pain. If a child doesn’t feel safe, they quickly learn that staying quiet and out of the way is the key to survival.
If this is the alternative, we can suffer through a few million questions.
This means that you want to be very careful in how you react during these bouts of curiosity. It can be easy to dismiss these questions with a simple “because” or to lose your patience and snap at them to stop.
If you feel you’re getting close to this point, it’s time to redirect their attention elsewhere or call in the cavalry so you can get a mental break.
Ways To Engage Positively And Create Permanent Understanding
While I can’t help you get to stop the questions, and I can’t change how you feel, there is a way to make sure it only applies to new experiences and fewer questions are involved.
When a question is asked, take the time to thoroughly answer them and ask them questions in return. Let’s go back to chopping vegetables for an example of what I mean.
There are two ways to answer the question “What are you doing?”
- I’m chopping vegetables.
- I’m using a sharp knife to chop up cauliflower so that I can cook it in the oven for dinner. Veggies are super important so that we stay healthy and grow strong! What color are they? Do you want to put them in the bowl for me and help me season them?
You can see that the second example answers many of the questions that would typically follow, and by asking them a question in return, you’ve moved the conversation from endless questions to letting them showcase their knowledge.
You’ve also drawn their attention away from the dangerous knife and into the realm of helping you safely.
On top of all that, by being specific about your actions, you’re creating knowledge permanence. They’ll understand the next time you have a knife in hand with something on the chopping block that you’re cutting it up.
They may still ask what you’re cutting, especially if it’s something they’ve never seen before, but at least the knife/veggie/dinner neuron pathway has been cemented in their brain.
An Important Tip
The questions don’t end with the why stage. Anyone with children over ten years of age has heard “are we there yet” more times than they can count. Usually, we answer “no.” I was guilty of this for years before I learned a simple trick. Instead of saying no, I answer one of two ways.
If they know where we are headed, I ask them if they see a landmark they recognize. If they’re unfamiliar, I tell them what they can look for to signify we are close.
This has drastically cut down on the “are we there yet” question. If they keep asking, I take that as their way of saying they’re bored, so we either pull over and take a break, or we play road games along the way.
Child Is Being Flatout Annoying
There are many ways you can deal with an annoying stepchild who is being flat-out annoying. All you need to do is understand the logic behind the situation and train your mind to ignore these behaviors when they become too much.
They can be annoying by:
- Noises they make
- Throwing tantrums
- Always leaving behind a mess
- Not Listening to you
- And many more things…
Whatever it is, it definitely needs to stop because the longer this goes on, the harder it is to make them stop in the future. No matter how much they are told to not cause this annoyance, they just continue doing it.
This is why you will need to implement some methods that you can do when your child starts to become annoying.
1. Tell Your Stepchild They Are Causing An Annoyance
The first approach to take is to simply tell them that the action they are doing is annoying and that it is causing frustration to you or others. Let them know that it is not respectful to be acting like this.
The problem with being a stepparent is that you might not get the respect you deserve as a parent because you are not the biological one so if telling them to stop does not work, you will have to result in taking action another way.
2. Ground Them
Before disciplining them, you will need to first talk to all the parents involved in their life and let them know the situation. Inform them about the many scenarios that have happened and how you can barely take it anymore.
Discuss what disciplinary actions should be taken when the child does become annoying so everyone onboard can understand the steps that are being taken to make the child behave better.
You can put them on timeout if they are younger, take the Tv or video games away, or not buy them the toy they always wanted. There are many more ways they can be disciplined so whatever you and the other parents see fit should happen.
Final Thoughts – How To Deal With A Stepchild Who Is Annoying
Parenting is all about navigating what works best for each child and each parent.
By staying open, receptive, and experimenting with different ways of handling certain situations, we can find a good balance in our parent/child relationships, regardless of biology.
Also, don’t forget that you matter too. When it all becomes too much, practice self-care and mindfulness. It can be hard to deal with children if you are at a low mental capacity.
All in all, having to deal with an annoying stepchild will only last a few short years and your relationship with the child will blossom over time.