18 answers

Seeking Advice on Mean Older Sibling

Recently our 4 year old daughter has been being mean to our 2 year old son. She pushes him, hits him, and yells at him. She always does it when I or my husband are not in the room so it's hard to discipline her without seeing what she actually did. We usually get her to tell us what she did and then deal with it as appropriately as we can. This bullying happens at least once a day and sometimes more. I just hate to see our son treated that way and hate our daughter acting that way. Any suggestions?

What can I do next?

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When my girls were small, I read a FANTASTIC book that every parent should read. It is called "Siblings without Rivalry". It give many great ideas on how to deal with these types of problems. Give it a try. You can take it out at the library.

I believe the hitting and fighting is a symptom of the problem. She is probably acting out on an internal issue. Since she doesn't know how to cope, she's acting her rage out on the 2 year old.

She might feel slighted on attention she used to get. Perhaps taking a different approach is the answer. Spend personal time with her separate of the 2 year old. Try to talk to her to see what is bothering her. Tell her to come to you for the punishments instead of trying to punish the 2 year old herself.

If that doesn't work, I suggest consulting with a family counselor or phychiatrist. Sibling rivaly can be very serious and cause frustration within the family for years. It's better to address these issues while they are small.

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There's a really good children's book out there called "Hands Are Not For Hitting". (Also 'Feet Are Not For Kicking' and so on) My neighbor read this to her then 4 year old, Andie, when she was having a problem with her kicking and hitting her little sister. Andie sat quietly listening to the book and sat quietly for a long time after it was over. She was totally embarrassed! Imagine, a four year old embarrassed at her own behavior! My neighbor never had to tell her again - well almost never. It really did the trick.

For me, I happen to belong to a moms club that has several younger children involved. My three year old may not be learning communication skills from her two year old friends, but she IS learning to share, be gentle with younger, smaller friends, and to help out people when they need help.

I think if you make it a priority for your daughter to help in the daily wellbeing of her brother, she may come to see that being older comes with some expectations. Maybe if her job is to pick out her brothers clothes for the day. Or to make sure she picks out his toys for playtime. If she has a task that results in his daily wellbeing, she sees that it's up to her to care for him. Well, partially anyway. Siblings have to look out for one another. Even if they are an annoying two year old brother!

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

my kids do that. i have a 5 and two year old . i think it is a control thing. but my two year old is fighting back. i think you can try to dicipline them and explain. i know one time i seen him push my two year so i went over and push him down. hard enough he fell on his but ( but not to hurt him) and said hows it feel do you like that. but like i said my two year old went and got and rubber sword the other day and wopted my five year old back when he pushed him. i hate to say it it was funny and i said well you should not be mean to him and he wont' be mean to you. and then they will grow out of it

talk activities away, time out. Try to get her to be big sister and show him how to do something. Engage them more in activities together and not separate even though they are two different ages

I had my nephew living with me for a while several years ago. He and my son were only a year apart in age and fought like brothers. I put in a system of time outs. They would get 3 warnings to correct what they were doing then they had to stand on the wall. I made sure that they understood that any action that caused someone else pain (hitting, pinching, etc.) would be automatically considered a 3 and they would serve time on the wall. I did have one instance where they had been warned and nothing was working so, as I warned them I would, I went in and wiped out the bedroom while they were at school. I took the tv, toys, everything except books and the bed. I told them that if they didn't straighten up and quickly that I would donate everything to needy kids. I made them earn everything back with behavior. It works.
The time out method has been the most effective tool though. My oldest is now 9 yrs. old and it still works though he very rarely has to stand on the wall now. Hope this helps. Good luck. Shannon

I think its normal. Kind of like a "right of passage". My oldest children are 17 months apart and we went and are still going through the same thing. One minute they are best friends and totally inseperable the next one of them (usually my son who is younger) is crying because of something his sister did. I would just keep doing what your doing and wait it out.
Good luck
FYI: My daughter (the one mentioned above) just said she should not be allowed to play with her brother for 3 days. On the fourth day they can play together. I think 3 days is a bit much but advice from someone who bullys her own little brother might be worth looking into =)

I would recommend that you not allow your young children to be alone when they are unsupervised. It sounds drastic, but it is the right thing for both of them. It is unfair for your little son to be bullied by his older sister, and it is unhealthy for your daughter to continue in these destructive patterns.

The best advice my mom gave me was about this very situation. I was constantly punishing the older brother for doing something mean to the little brother. My mom advised me to watch the little one. He was two, and sure enough, he was being a brat to his big brother. After that, whenever they couldn't get along, I sent them BOTH to their rooms.

It might also help if you make sure to spend more one-on-one time with your daughter, and keep watching for her to do something good, so you can praise her for it.

My children were 23 months apart so I know what you are going through. Same situation, older girl, baby brother.

You are doing the best you can and I know it isn't easy. He may be trying to get something she is playing with or she considers to be hers and she just doesn't want to share. She could be reacting to what she thinks is him getting more attention than she does and this way she is getting attention she wants even though it is negative attention.

Time out, sending her to her room, etc. are all the appropriate things you can do at this time. You can't be in the same room with them all of the time even though you try to.

I finally sat down and told her that one day he would hit back, trip her, kick her, whatever she had done to him he would be doing back and while it was unacceptable behavior on his part, it would be her fault because that was how she treated him. I then advised her when it happened she had best not come to me crying because she was going to be reaping what she had sowed. I don't think I used that exact wording but I made the point.

It happened several times as they got older and I did not sympathize with her in any way, I reminded her that she had started it and it was her just deserts. I did put him in time out and told him it was wrong.

They had a very good, close, relationship when they got older. Chin up, it will work out.

P. R

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