10 answers

Oldest Son Jealous of Little Brother/how to Get Him to Treat Brother Differently

My 11 year old from the day his little brother was born has resented him. His little brother is now 6. Sometimes they will play together but the oldest constantly is putting his little brother down and demeaning him. So I feel like I have to step in and defend the younger one ... which only seems to create more resentment from the older boy. I feel like I am constantly nagging my oldest son about his treatment of his little brother and it hurts my relationship with him. He is a good kid who's teachers brag on academically and socially. His little brother really looks up to him despite his treatment of him. I'm not trying to paint the younger as a complete angel ... he can be hard to get along with times as well ... but I can't seem to get my oldest to understand that the way someone acts at age 6 is different from the way he acts at age 11 and that if he is nice to his little brother his little brother will mirror his behavior. I also can't get him to understand how much his little brother looks up to him. If the eldest would give the youngest an inch he would get a mile back. I really want them to grow up and be close.

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I have really appreciated all the responses I received. I think I need to realize my role is not to be a referee but to give them the tools to solve their own differences, which is easier said then done. I'm not quite there yet ... I still find myself nagging the older sibling instead of giving him positive reinforcement when he does the right thing. He surprised me the other day and said he wanted to buy his little brother a Christmas present. I thought this meant we go shopping and he picks it out and I pay. When we got to the store he insisted on paying with his own money that he had saved. I suppose I worry too much, he is a very good hearted person. I am reading the recommended books and praying for them to become friends as well as brothers. Thank you all for all your help.

Featured Answers

I second the recommendation for Siblings Without Rivalry, by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. Very hands-on, very practical advice, not so much parenting "advice" as tons and tons of samples and examples...it's almost like a workbook.

Good luck!

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I too have had this problem, but my oldest is now 17 yrs. My little guy is 8 1/2. I don't know that I would call it jealousy, but my oldest definitely treated the youngest as if he was so dumb. I could tell it hurt his feelings, but he always seemed to let it go because he loved his big brother so much. It always made me sad to see this going on between them. I have explained to the older one that his brother truly looks up to him and loves the attention and would do anything to get it-even being annoying to him to get it. I have had to remind him that the little one is only 8 years old and he is going to act like an 8 yr. old. I have asked him to put himself in the little ones shoes and try and understand how it would feel to be shunned by someone you love so much and just want to spend time with. My oldest has come around and done a lot better over the last few months. He plays with him more and is more patient with him. Their relationship hasn't always been like this. It seemed to get a little worse as my older one was in his early teens. I also explained to him that when their father and I are gone someday that they will have each other and that they will really need one another. I also have a 15 yr. old daughter who is way more accepting of the little guy and is more of a mother figure to him. Sure she gets annoyed with him sometimes but there is a totally different dynamic between them. I might suggest family time together, either playing a game or going to the zoo where you can monitor their behavior on the spot and explain things as they happen between the boys so that the older one gets more of an idea of what is going on. The little one usually just wants the attention that the older seems so reluctant to give. I don't know if my experience will help or not, but I'm sure it will get better over time. Best of luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Have you tried positive reinforcement? Catch him being nice to his little brother and make a big deal out of it. Give him a reward for being nice. We talk to our girls about how Jesus wants us to treat other people how we want to be treated. Good luck

L., I don't know how you feel about prayer, but Jesus is the answer to our every need. If you haven't already, talk to Him about the problem. Pray with your boys especially when the negative behavior starts. With all the love and gentleness in you, tell them that you want them to have the mind of Jesus. Ask for the Holy Spirit to come in with that peace that "passes understanding." Sing or hum a song about Jesus to/with them. This may seem awkward at first, but calling upon the Lord ALWAYS works. He hears your every prayer, especially when you're trying to draw your child to Him. You may need to do this many times. Remember, the enemy of us all is standing by to accuse and tear down. Only Christ can restore and buildup fractured relationships and more.

Make sure you are spending individual time with both boys to fill their "love cup." There are many books you can find on the net covering sibling rivalry from a Christian perspective. You may want to read a few. Be assured that the closer your boys grow to the Lord the closer they will be to each other. I'm praying for you and your family...P.

I recommend the book, SIBLINGS WITHOUT RIVALRY. Also, separate them. Maybe the older brother will realize that he kind of likes the adulation.

I have the exact same problem, except my oldest is 11 and youngest 18 mos. My husband also works out of town a lot, so I can understand where you are coming from. I would love to read your responses because I need an answer, too.

Sit both of your boys down and tell them how much you love them deeply from your heart and that you loved them before they were even born exactly the same. Make this all about YOU rather than them. Tell them that they grew from part of you and are a part of YOU. Tell them it hurts YOU so badly and makes YOU so sad to hear them say anything hurtful to the other one. Ask them to please be kind and compassionate to the other one for YOU. Tell each of them that you would never allow a stranger to be mean to them and you can't allow them to act mean to each other either. It breaks your heart to hear mean words come from one of them and it also breaks you heart to see either of them hurt. Thankgoodness my kids have a real soft spot for me/mom and this worked for us. They didn't want to hurt ME and in turn made the older one nicer to our younger one and they got along much better. I hope this helps in your case!!!

Wow I have an 11 year old and a just turned 3 year old. A lot of times my 3 year old will tell on my eleven year old but normally I have seen the whole thing and tell my 3 year old that he started it. My eleven year old sounds alot like your 11 year old as he is not a problem child. My husband also works 28 at home 28 gone. My 11 year old knows I depend on him ALOT when his father is gone because I also teacher school and have the cheerleaders so I am gone 2 nights a week at basketball games. He is a great help and does a great job at helping me out. Maybe if your 11 year old was given chores to help you out and praise him which I am sure you are doing then the both of you can have a great relationship as well. Find some time for just the two of you....if he and your six year old are fussing make sure it isn't the 6 year old who started it and if it was the 6 year old then let your 11 year old see you have the discussion with your 6 year old and I bet with time the 11 year old will come around. Don't know if this helps...because I know how hard it is to raise two kids by yourself.

I second the recommendation for Siblings Without Rivalry, by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. Very hands-on, very practical advice, not so much parenting "advice" as tons and tons of samples and examples...it's almost like a workbook.

Good luck!

I think all of Amy's suggestions are great, but I'd add a few thoughts. I do think the little ones can manipulate the situation to get their older sibs in trouble. So, I'd make this a win/win or lose/lose situation. When you are both being kind and getting along, you both earn extra computer/tv/friends (whatever the child's "currency" is). If you are not, you BOTH lose. This motivates them to get along better and to work together to improve their relationship. I'd also quit trying to talk about it so much. Sometimes, we inadvertently reinforce the very behavior we are trying to stop by paying way too much attention to it. So, I'd take action and reduce the talking about it. So, I'd describe to your children as "If you two disturb my peace by bickering, tattling, calling names, not sharing or any other poor behavior, you will both lose out." When I began to look at it this way with my own kids, things really began to improve in their relationship. Today, they are both young adults and even socialize together!

L., i don't know how well it will work at this point but my oldest is 7 1/2 years older than his younger brother, when i was pregnant we told the oldest one that this was "our" baby, not just mine and his dad's. His job as an older brother was to teach him to throw a football, play baseball and kick a soccer ball...he took that to heart. at 4 my youngest could spiral a football like a teenager and was always one of the best in any sport he played. Big brother took great pride in little brothers accomplishments and they have always been very close....i'm very blessed with this. i dont' know if you can institute anything of that nature at this point but thought i would throw out the idea in case you could use it...good luck....R.

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