Fighting Whineing and Tattling- I Am So Sick of It!

Updated on October 27, 2012
L.W. asks from Suncook, NH
14 answers

I have two sons one just turned 5 the other will be three in a month. They fight over everything. Who is the first to get help brushing their teeth, the first up the stairs etc. They rip toys out of each others hands, scream in each others face, spit at each other you name it. Then they come running to me to complain about what is going on. At the same time we have great moments where they play together wonderfully and are aech others best friends. They hate to be seperated from each other and love each other very much.
When they act this way I usually seperate them and they each have time outs in their rooms. This is usually pretty effective. But there are days where it seems all I am doing is putting people in time outs and paying refaree. I wish they would STOP! I know it won't go away completly but it has to get better than this!
What did you do to get your kids to stop the constant fighting? I will say it is the older son who starts almost all of the fights. He hates to share and is always looking for trouble. My younger son is much more agrreable and willing to work together, but he will not be bullied either....sigh....

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answers from Dallas on

great answers so far! In addition to things already mentioned, when my older two were little and fought, if I had to get involved, whether it was for my sanity sake, or one of them calling me, whatever toy, TV show, game, etc they were fighting over I immediately took away. No TV, the toy was put away for the remainder of the day, whatever. Done with. Another thing I used to do when it became out of hand was make them stand in the corner holding hands.

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answers from Los Angeles on

For the whining, I stopped it by telling the kids to use their nice voice. I don't understand whining. When they whined, I wouldn't do anything they wanted. They also had to use their polite words; please, thank you, you're welcome.

It takes time and practice.

The teasing and fighting by your oldest is a symptom of not getting the attention he used to. He feels you favor the youngest.

Have another two or three kids. ;~)) They will each be happy to play with their brothers and sisters and the one who is mad and whining will get over his mad sooner and become more mature because of it.

Good luck to you and yours.

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answers from New York on

A good way to have them start fighting is to reward them with the task of an awful chore that they must complete together. Tell them that since they can't figure out how to play nicely together, they must need some practice at working together and working things out. Give them each a toothbrush, and some baking soda and have them scrub the grout in the tub, give them a broom and a dustpan and have them sweep the garage. Anything that's awful. They will get the point that their inability to compromise gets them no reward.

Good luck to you and yours,
F. B.

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answers from Norfolk on

They are together too much so they get on each others nerves.
Try not to bunch them together all the time.
Schedule some play dates for the elder so you can have some one on one time with the younger.
As the younger gets older, do the same for him.
Sometimes have them have separate play time each alone in their rooms (or in different sections of the house).
There's no guarantee that siblings will be compatible.
My younger sister and I (22 months difference between us) fought like cats and dogs till we grew up and moved away - and we still can't stand each other (she's 49, I'll be 51 end of this year).
You can't let them hurt each other (my sister and I had knock down hair pulling drag out fights into our teens) but they have to be as nice as they would be to a stranger.
Give each of them some space (their rooms) where they can escape from each other when they want to (each can stay out of the others room).



answers from Honolulu on

I have 2 kids that are 4 years apart.
All along, I have explained to my eldest, about how her younger brother is developing, in terms of understanding things or not, as compared to her.
And this has helped, my eldest in understanding... what her younger brother may be thinking or doing and why. Thus, it helps in any fights they may have and the expectations my eldest has of her younger brother.
For real disputes, I step in. And appropriately discipline them.

I also, taught them and tell them that they each can have alone time. IF one of them simply does not want to play with the other, they CAN say so. And it should be respected. Siblings are not always in the mood, to always be playing with each other. It can be irritating etc.

My kids are very close, but at times they simply get on the others nerves. So, I taught them that they need to speak up and say so... nicely, then its fine. And they do this. And then SAY that they want to just play by themselves etc. Its fine. I don't expect my kids to be joined at the hip.

I also do not tell them, that telling me something is "tattling." I teach them that they can tell me anything... about what bothers them or what the other did to them when it is beyond their patience. If something is important to them or they are frustrated, to tell me. It is not, tattling.
There were many times when my eldest daughter may be irking my younger son. And my son would tell her to stop it, in a nice way. And he would be REPEATEDLY telling her this, but she didn't stop. THEN my son would get mad and then they'd be yelling at each other. SO... I explained to my daughter, that her brother was TRYING to tell her to stop, nicely, and for several times already. He TRIED, but she didn't listen. And now... he is at the END of his patience and is now, angry. SO SHE NEEDS TO, be aware of his cues. He already SAID to stop, but she didn't. So she needs to, ALSO curb her ignoring a person's warning. It takes, two. And she was wrong.



answers from Victoria on

Mine are 6 & 7 but I started this when my oldest was about 4 or 5. first tattling needs to be defined. My definition is you come tell me if someone or something is getting broke or going to be broken or if somebody is getting hurt or about to be hurt. Otherwise, I don't need to know about it from them.

For the whineing, I immediately say, "Oh is that the I am bored or I need attention voice? because I have something for you to do. A special job for a special kid!! then I assign a chore. unload dishwasher, pick up toys, collect all trash cans to the kitchen, take dirty clothes to utility room, etc...." This fixes whineing really really quick!!! If out in public, I have them seek and find the alphabet in order... so they have to point out an A, then a B, etc... you can use #'s too and you will be surprise how fast they are to do it and how it occupies their brain! Colors, shapes you can use any of these....

For the fighting, I remove the object in question and have them stand against wall till they are calm and object is not returned until both kids "make it right", which means that they must admit what they did wrong, give an alternative to what they can do next time, say they are sorry sincerely and then they must play nice for a good block of time, usually about 4 hours. I do help them with alternatives etc.. and this gets easier as you do it so you turn those fights into learning moments and teach them coping skills like calming themselves down, empathy or thinking about the other person, and helping them learn how to problem solve in a healthy way. I rarely have fights between them now. Hope this helps, God Bless.


answers from Milwaukee on

I have a 5 year old and a 3 year old and it's the same here. My 5 year old is a girl and I swear she is more manipulative. The 3 year old can be more physical, so she manipulates the toy, calls him a name, then he smacks her, she screams and tattles. Uggggg By the end of Sunday I am ready for school to start early Monday.

It's weird how they get along so well other times. I know it starts to get worse when they are tired, bored or hungry. Keeping a routine does help as they don't get to overtired, bored or hungry.

I do have to separate them often, but I just give them activities to do alone to re-group for a bit.



answers from Dallas on

You are doing the right things, rinse, repeat. My boys are 3 1/2 yrs apart and I went through this a lot. It was one of those things I was adamant on stopping. Physically hurting the other one didn't get as harsh a punishment as putting the other one down. I told them all the time that they were family and friends would come and go but they would always be there. Sometimes it seemed like it was never going to end. The oldest was reminded on several occasions that he had many gifts and talents and he didn't need to put his brother down to feel good about himself. I also made a list of how much alike they are and to enjoy those things. It must have sunk in over the years because they had kids in their teenage youth group ask if they ever fought because nobody had ever seen it! Give it time and know that this is time well spent by you!



answers from Boston on

Get this book: "Mom, Jason's Breathing on Me" by Anthony Wolf. It is brilliant. It is easy reading and so real it will make you laugh. He recommends not playing the role of negotiator/judge. You don't take sides, you don't get involved (unless there's a danger/safety/physical harm issue), you say things like "both of you, stop it!" and you separate them. We have used his philosophy with our 11 yr old & 10 year old and they play beautifully together. We are starting to use it with our 4yr & 2 yr old boys as well. T. Y (SAHM of 5: 11yrs, 10yrs, 4yrs, 2yrs & 10 months)



answers from Burlington on

:) Mine are 5 1/2 and 4 (boy and girl) and I could have written this post. I am going to look at your answers to see if anyone has the magic answer. I will say that what works in our house is outside time. I take them the the HS track to run a few laps (sometimes a mile!!) and that runs some of the sass out of them :) Good luck, I'm afraid it is only improving their stamina!


answers from San Francisco on

My girls are 13 and 16 and STILL fight with each other, a lot.
They also have moments of true sisterly love. Just last night my 16 year old wanted to sleep in her younger sister's room (!) and they had a peaceful snuggly night.
Unfortunately I think a lot of this behavior is normal. My only suggestion is to make sure they get out of the house a lot, and make sure they have plenty of playdates with friends their own ages, that helps.
Also decide where you draw the line. Yelling, wrestling and bickering are one thing, but I draw the line at spitting and hitting. NOT acceptable, that's when I'd separate them.



answers from Tampa on

Mine are 4 and 6 and are still doing the same as yours. Sometimes they have to go to their sibling's room for a timeout. My little girl get so upset about her brother in her room playing with her toys and vice versa that they end up straightening up pretty quickly.



answers from Boston on

The good thing is it usually does get better! I have three kids, but its my two daughters that fight. Or I should say, used to fight! They are two years apart, and when they were 3 and 5 through 4 and 6, those were some tough years. Just as you describe. And in my case like yours, it was really the older one who was instigating things. But now they are 5 and 7, and although we have occasional fights, they usually play beautifully together and there are moments when I can't believe the love and affection! I agree with the other posters who recommended time with their own friends and try to provide each with 1x1 time with you or dad, and own rooms if possible. Also, be consistent as much as possible--no idle threats such as "If you don't stop whining, I'll..." Ignore the whining, make them wait on occasion (no instant gratification), and encourage them to work things out on their own or both have consequences (remove the toy, for example, and no one gets it). Those things helped us, although growing up helped too. Choose playmates carefully, you don't want the wrong behaviors being reinforced. Good luck and I know it will improve with time.


answers from Hartford on

I don't respond to tattling unless it's a valid safety issue. With regard to the rest of the whining and tattling, I ignore it .

"What honey? I'm sorry, I don't understand Whinese. You'll have to use English and your speaking voice."

Then I walk away.

If they're fighting, I don't take sides. I don't care who started it and won't listen to that as an excuse for continuing them continuing to fight, since either of them had the option of walking away at any point. If one starts it and both get involved, then both are subject to the natural consequences. They're encouraged to work it out using words first.

If I have to intervene due to them getting physical or one is bullying the other, then both are sent to their rooms. Privileges are removed and must be earned back. They're required to think about what they did and apologize to each other, including a hug. They also have to tell each other what they like about each other. They hate it. :-)

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