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?

Featured Answers

T.,

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.

More Answers

T.,

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!
J.

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
S.
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

Hello. I know exactly what your talking about. But the bad thing is, is that I have an eleven and a half year old a ten year old and a two year old. The thing is my oldest is mean to the both of her sisters. She'll be nice to the ten year old for a bit, but when she don't agree with it, she starts name calling. She will SCREAM at my two year old and poke her really hard in the forehead or some place else. She don't know how much she's hurting all of us when she gets angry like that. I talk to her usually to find out what her problem is or why she is very angry. Make sure that your eye level with your daughter. Maybe she feels a little left out. I think that's what my older one feels like. Try making it mom and daughter day out one day and make her feel like its only her day. Do the same for your son, but make sure that your daughter knows that certain days are hers and certain days are his. See how that works. Your kids are a lot younger and closer in age than my 2 older ones.

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.

If a parent says they haven't experienced this, they are lying. This is probably the age when it starts. I think its a combination of jealousy, not getting individual attention and/or frustration out of not being able to communicate effectively,boredom. My kids are a bit older. If it isn't addressed with consistent time outs and penalties (eg. take something away)it may be harder to control. My daughter is 8 and sons are 6 and 2. My Moms group mentor mom suggested this book , 1,2,3 Magic. It basically focuses on Consistent attention to poor behavior and giving the child consequences for his actions. It is working for us but both parents MUST be on the same page when it comes to discipline in order for it to work. THis is where my problem lies. Because my 8 and 6 year old constantly fight, we have to take them out individually (to have peace) and give them the needed one-on-one time they crave. This is the best time to talk to them to find out if anything else is going on with them to cause them to be acting out on their sibling. Make sure you praise your child when she is caught doing good/treating her brother nicely or helping him. We even had a Helpful Jar, and whenever a child did something positive, or helped someone in any way, we right it down and put it in jar. We then read it at end of week and the child gets such joy and pride from his good deeds. You can go a step further and reward him with a outing to the park or making him a special icecream sundae, play his fave game. Good luck. We are still a work in progress here. Remember:Consistency is key. And praise all that good behavior whenever you see it.

Hi there my husband and I are both only children so we had a lot of kids! One of the things we continually stress is that ( the type of behavior) is not acceptable in our home. We stress that anger and frustration with a sibling is okay and normal but that we must learn to express our anger and frustration in a loving manor aimed at ending conflict not causing it. So many times I see kids beating the heck out of one another and the parents say oh thats normal... no its not and you are wise to want to stop it.

We have had one on ones with the 4year old to find out exactly what it is that is frustrating her. We gave her ideas on how to end it like removing the toy not wanting to share to another room.. or taking a deep breath. we also explain the limitations of the 2 year old and teach the child how to deal with or express frustration and work wihtin the limits of understanding the younger sibling has. We then validate the frustration and talk with the two year old about please don't do that to Sissy's _____ it makes her feel angry and instead do this.._____.... give alternatives. But most of all, we have set clear and precise consequences for any type of bullying or physical contact with one another in anger and my gavel of judgement comes down quick... immediate time out in your room, removal of bed time snacks, grounded from playing out wide with the neighborhood kids that evening. I stand strong and remind quickly had you not hit, teased etc... you would be out there with your siblings. Hope that you can get something from my experience!
R

I too have two kids (my son is 3 1/2 and my daughter is 20 months) and while they can definitely play well together, there are the times when they don't. And it is usually when I leave the room (to use the bathroom most times!). But I have to agree with the other moms, it seems that this is something that will and does happen. Not to say that you should allow the behavior though either. We utilize timeouts for both of our kids. And we have read the NO hitting books, really good! My son actually picked them out at the library!
Just know that your kids behaviors are normal and that this will pass - maybe not as soon as you want, but it will!

It sounds like she needs an aditude adjustment. Dan

What kind of conversation do you have?? WHY did she do it? Does she feel like if you're out of the room that she's in charge? Talk about appropriate and inappropriate behavior when in comes to "being in charge".

PRAISE and compliment when you see her or someone else behaving appropriately when it comes to being in charge. When they don't, talk about that too and how they could have handled it differently. Talk about the feelings of the person being "pushed around" as well as the person who's in charge. Talk about the importance of handling things appropriately when in charge....respect, kindness, helpful, loving, caring, role model, etc.

T.,
When your son gets older, he will probably pay her
back for the way she is treating him now. Sad to say though
that sometimes that is what it takes for them to learn to
stick up for themselves. Unless you can catch her in the
act I don't really know what you can do, but you could try
this leave the room but stay around the corner where she can't see you then maybe you can peek around the corner and
watch her to see what she is going to do. It's sneaky I know
but maybe that's the only way to catch her in the act.
Hope I helped alittle. Or maybe just don't leave her alone
with him right now, make her go everywhere with you.

K.
K.

This is her teaching, some where along the line she learn that this should be the behavior. Please teach her by your actions of what kindas is rather than your "words"

T.,

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.

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