August 20, 2008,
G.S. asks from Hopatcong, NJ on August 17, 2008
Is This Ever Going to End?
Since the birth of my youngest daughter who will be 5 in Nov, my oldest who is 10 is so mean to her little sister. Especially when she has a certain friend over. This totally breaks my heart considering the fact that we moved from our house when our oldest was 4 because of a horrible neighbor situation. Lastnight I was so fed up that I took my youngest to the park and something hit me, that I was protecting her just as I had my oldest from bullies. We have taken almost all of her priviledges away, but I just feel so hurt. My four year old isn't completely innocent, but she doesn't deserve the way her sister treats her. I know the age difference has a lot to do with this and the fact that she sees her friend getting all of the attention because she doesn't have any brothers or sisters, but my parents didn't sit us down and take a vote as to whether or not we minded another sibling around. My husband always sides with my oldest, as a matter a fact the two of them are going to Massachusetts overnite for something with his job. I don't mind her going & being there, but I told him that I don't think that it's fair they go to a hotel with a pool because she's been rubbing that in her little sister's face all week. Lastnight I truly felt as though I wasn't cut out to be a mom.
L.C. answers from New York on August 19, 2008
My sister and I are 5 years apart....as kids we HATED each other. Now we are best of friends. Sorry no advice, but there is hope:)
L.S. answers from Buffalo on August 19, 2008
I recommend you bring this problem to a family psychologist and just get some ideas from a professional. All the responses you got may be reasonable but I think you will be able to come to grips with this faster via a professional.
P.S. I am a Mom of two boys who are best friends today!
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D.Z. answers from Binghamton on August 20, 2008
There is an easy way to tell if this is just normal sibling rivalry or the older one with a bigger issue: what does the 10 year old do if someone is picking on the little one? If her tendency is to protect her little sister if someone who is not family is picking on or trying to hurt her, then you're ok...if she joins in and picks and tries to hurt too, then you've got a bigger problem.
Even though this is normal, it doesn't make it right. We may not be able to stop this kind of thing, but we can set clear expectations and consequences for when it does happen. We have to be the adults, even though kids do certain things "normally". Make sense?
mother to 1 step child and 4 biologicals (ages 16, 9, 6, 3, and 20 months) and yes, they fight! (but not all the time)
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M.W. answers from New York on August 18, 2008
I can't say that I agree with the back off and it will work itself out. I do think that some things need to be left for the kids to deal with. The problem with where you are is the line between when parent intervention in needed and when the kids can do it themselves has been blurred.
First and foremost - you and your husband need to have some serious sit down time and agree on certain house rules that everyone follows. The discipline for breaking any rule (unless it comes to actual physical violence - the discipline format really should not change all that much). But you two NEED to be on the same page. It sounds like there is a bit of animosity between you and your husband. Overstepping slightly - but if there are issues between you two - your children are feeling that even if it's not discussed in front of them. Even if it is just the 'taking sides' like you say - they know when things aren't really good between their parents. So - maybe you guys need to work some things out - maybe not. But deciding on house rules - discipline, etc is must!
Then you need to step back a little bit. If a rule hasn't been broken - let them figure things out alone more. If it has - address the broken rule. I think there is a time and place for stepping back - but not if you are feeling this way and not if things are moving in the direction they are. Certainly - your 4yo is no angel - and your 10 yo isn't creating every fight - but they both need boundaries with you, with your husband, with each other, and for themselves. I agree with you that she shouldn't go to the pool if she hasn't been handling it properly - maybe she'll need to do something extra nice for the 4yo when she gets back b/c of the way she's handling this (I would set it up beforehand though - "If you continue to treat your sister this way, x,y, & z and say ..... to her about going away with your dad, you are going to need to make up for it when you get back by doing x,y, & z"). Not ideal - she's still getting rewarded by going away, but if that isn't going to change - she's still being held accountable.
My brother and I are almost 5 yrs apart. He stood up for me when other people treated me badly, wasn't always awful and I actually liked spending time with him thorughout childhood, but he really was abusive at times and it shaped who I was as an adult. Address it now - husband first - get on the same page and work together - it's too tough to not. Good luck!!
K.H. answers from Buffalo on August 18, 2008
There are some things that you can not have control and interfere in.
And Sibling rivalry is one.
Someone once gave me this analogy...
Whenever you introduce a new child, to a situation....a class, a team or a family...
They are like a cage of parokeets. They have to determine on their own, which one gets which perch. Because, no matter what you try to do, they will peck and chirp and find their own pecking order that will be constantly evolving and changing. All you can do is sit back and watch that there are no family rules broken. The oldest will always be oldest and the youngest will always be youngest. They can not grow up as exact equals...the youngest will always seem coddled to the oldest...the oldest will always have more privelages.
All you can do as far as what you described, is explain to the oldest that she is not using a tone you like. If she wants to have respect as the oldest sibling, she has to earn it. Big sister should be allowed to have 'big sister' rights. If she wants little sister to leave them alone, she has to earn the right to have you defend her by using a polite tone to ask her to to leave her things alone, or to leave them alone to play. When little sister in invading her privacy, she has to nicely say no to little sister.
If she is nice in the way she asks and the little sister is not respecting her space, then you can remove the little sister as sign of appreciation for the way she is changing her attitude. You then need to redirect the little sister to something age appropriate. Her own toys that are her age...video...etc. But, do not take her and do something special because you will be rewarding little sister for not respecting her sisters space.
When there are 2 children, parents start to rely on them entertaining each other. When your oldest has a playdate, you are going to now be responsible for entertaining the younger and teaching her how to play alone...or find her a playdate also.
She will begin to earn her rights as big sister nicely when she sees the freedoms and responsibilites that will be her reward for handling it maturely.
The trip was planned...
but big sisters actions will get her into trouble, and let her know this.
Because if she is being immature and mean to her little sister about what she is getting, why will little sister be nice later? Why will the big sister be given the privelage of an older sister right later on? It is ok for big sister to have rights the little one doesn't, but it is not ok for her to cause envy. She needs to be told that it is hurtful. She should be talking to the little sister in a tone that shows sympathy that her baby sister can not do these things yet, but will be able to when she is older.....or she may not get to go do something like this again because she is too immature to handle it without being nasty.
If she wants to do big girl things, she has to behave like a big girl.
I hope you get a lot of great ideas and answers.
S.T. answers from Albany on August 18, 2008
I am soooo sorry that you're going through this but understand hope this of some comfort to you, you are not alone and understand that it has nothing to do with you as a mom. Don't feel that you're not cut out to be a mom and there are times I have felt that way. I have prayed to God, I told Jesus how I felt, that I didn't feel that was cut out to be a mom either and you know what? He made me realized that our children did not come with an instruction manual and we need to ask Him for His Wisdom in how to deal with certain issues and He is the Creator of our children. Believe it or not, He loves them more than us and if we think how much we love them and He loves them more and the same measure He loves us, how incredible that love is!! You may need to take your oldest aside and talk with her what you have seen and heard and how much it hurts you and her sister and that you know that your youngest isn't perfect, but the things that she is doing is not called for regardless what the actions the youngest one is doing. You may also want to point out that she will not have a friend over again because you are tired of her actions and that is not acceptable. You may want to sit down with both of them afterwards and talk out what the situation is and what is not acceptable in the house and you may want to talk to your husband alone about this situation. Explain that you don't mind her going with him, but it's not fair for the youngest not be part of it and you understand the age too taht she's too young. But, point out to him that the oldest one is taking the advantage of this and hurting the youngest one through that and it's not right. I have three boys real close in age and I believe that on shourt not go without the other one going too. Unless one of them donj't want to go and that is fine too. I want all of them to have the choice if they want to go or not. I will pray for you G. and I will pray for your whole family and that if you ask Jesus for his Wisdom, that He will and ask Him to help you and your husband to make sure that neither of your girls get favoritism over the other. I will pray that your talk with your husband will be peaceful and that no one gets offensive in the conversation. I will pray for all of you.
M.K. answers from New York on August 18, 2008
I think that your 10 year old has the right to enjoy private time with her friends, without the interuption of her pesky little sister.
After all she is 10, and the little one is only 5,
I think that you need to create situations where the 2 children can enjoy eachothers company,
For instance, tell the little one to color a picture for big sister, or ask her to clean her room,
After a trip to the grocery store have the little one give her big sister a candy or cookies.
TRY to create a bond,
Right now all the older one is getting is punished and admonished.
WHY because of her little sister, who mommy now loves more than her, and who is the sole cause of ALL her problems
( it doesn't matter what your reality is , only how your oldest sees it in HER reality)
As for the oder sister create situation where your entrusting the little one to her care, and praise her when she is successful, tell the little one she needs to listen to her big sister.
my 2 youngest are 2 and nearly 4 , I tell the big one he is in charge of his brother and he must listen,and he DOES
I also have a 12 year old ( all 3 boys) and he sometimes finds his brothers annoying and he gets jealous,
in situations where he is mistreating them I send him to his room, afterwards, when he is thru and improves his attitude and behavior I offer a reward of some sort, like choclate.
I DO NOT offer it to ONE child and not the other.
ONE child is not better than the other, Just diffrent, each child needs more of one things and sometimes less of another.
It my job as a mother, to create a BOND between the brothers.
My oldest has chores, while the little ones do not, When he is angry about that I remind him that one day there will be 2 of them to split to chores, while he relaxes. he will be old enough to pay them 3 dollars a piece to wash his clothes and clean his room. And he really seems to like this.
I also create special time for each of my kids, eg.. take a day off from school and go to the lake.with my eldest.
NO BABIES-----For little guys we go to the Zoo or a Farm.
MOM, I know its hard, but its you who has the problems,
you need to stop taking sides, labeling things and just teach them to love each other, allow them their own space and identity, create situations where they can bond,
Last little bit of advice, MOM,
I am a firm believer that a punish ment for a child should NOT punish the MOM.
So Return all of her "THINGS"
and instead make her clean the house as a punishment.
THIS has worked wonders in my home,
make her vaccum, load the dishwasher, put clothes away, wash and dry laundry .
, the little one can clear the table, both can clean up toys ,and one can take out the garbage. and clear up the Yard
good luck MOM
R.M. answers from New York on August 18, 2008
I feel for your oldest girl. I am 5 years older than my little sister and I was sooooo jealous of her. I felt abandoned and unloved thoughout my childhood. When I acted out, I was punished, as I deserved. My parents were very loving and didn't do anything wrong, except maybe how they handled the family dynamic. In retrospect I wish they had spent more time with me and explained that they still loved me even though my little sister required more of their attention. I wish they told me that she and I share a unique bond and we will always be sisters. Today, I wish I was closer to my sister. We get along well, but I think I pushed her away when we were kids and this probably effects her trusting me.
Good Luck and give that older sister a hug. Tell her being an older sister is very important. She will teach the little one all kinds of things, new games, how to put one over on mom, ect...
J.H. answers from Syracuse on August 18, 2008
Gosh G., that is a tough situation. I'm not sure of details as to what is going on, how is she being mean? Physically? Not knowing any of that stuff makes advice hard to offer.
Why don't you take your youngest to a hotel with a pool for the night? Just you 2, have dinner out somewhere, maybe go to Build-A-Bear or a movie, then go back to your hotel, if you don't go out to dinner, order a pizza and have it delivered (my kids love that) and then go to the pool and swim...just the 2 of you...You'll still have the issues when you get back, of course, but it may give you a little down time to think of suggestions and just plain give your youngest some alone time with you.
You also don't mention how you handle your 10 year old...is she punished for being mean to her little sister? Why does your husband take her side? Maybe if she mentions the trip one more time in a nasty way she doesn't get to go...and if you threaten that - FOLLOW THROUGH WITH THAT!!
N.M. answers from New York on August 18, 2008
I feel for you, my older 2 are only 15 months apart and argue all the time, they can be truly mean to one another. Because of this they are usually nice to their little brother (who is 5 years younger than my middle one), but not always. I often use the house cleaning as a punishment too instead of taking things away. It teaches them useful life skills. I also seperate them in the house so they cannot play or see one another the whole day. When they are mean to their brother I give them hell for being a bad example, but I also then give them all time apart. Then I am the little one's playmate while the older two play. OTher times I let them know they need to play something they can all play together for an alloted amount of time. Maybe giving the older one space and time alone with you will make her more willing to spend a apecific amount of time with her little sister...help them with ideas of what and how to play together, even model it for them.