How to I Get My Son to Respect His Sister???

Updated on December 02, 2010
M.S. asks from Lincolnshire, IL
7 answers

I have three children. My son is 8 and my daughters are 6 and 10. My son is so mean to his little sister. He will tease her and just say means things to her all day. It starts from to moment he gets up and continues the minute he gets of the bus. I feel so bad for my daughter. She is as sweet as can be and really does not bug him to much. I have tried so many things to get my son to be nice to his sister and respect her feelings. They will work for a day or so, then he goes right back to his old ways. As you can imagine, she is constantly screaming and crying because of her brother. My husband and myself are very nice to everyone in the family, we do not fight a lot. My hubby is very respectful of me, so he did not learn this behavior from dad. I really can not figure out why he treats her so badly! This is not your normal sibling riverly, he is at the extreme side. Any ideas, thanks moms!

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answers from Dover on

I think the problem is he is not the baby anymore and she is. Be sure he gets lots of positive, one on one attention. When he is being mean, correct him but don't give him a lot of attention...just correct him. If he starts again, correct him again and send him to his room to spend some quiet time alone (where he won't get attention for his negative behavior). Be sure to stay calm with him.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I have heard the book Siblings Without Rivalry strongly recommended.

I use another book by the same authors (How to Talk So Kids Will Listen, and Listen So Kids Will Talk, by Faber and Mazlish) that is simply the best, most workable and practical parenting book I've ever read, and I have read (and used) a bunch over many years with many kids in many capacities. I haven't read the Siblings book, but I'll bet it's got the answers you need.

Good luck.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Charlotte on

Your son sounds like he is bullying your daughter, and bullying is so much in the news today. The first thing that came to mind is that your son is the middle child and seems like he is definately suffering from middle child syndrome. You may not realize this, but is it possible that you and your husband give your 6 year old more attention than your son? Your son might be jealous of the attention you give her, thus taking it out on her instead of you and your husband. I also have 3 kids and I know all about middle child syndrome. Punishing/taking things away from your son might not be the answer. I think that a third party might be more helpful, like the social worker at your son's school (or is it called guidance counselor?). I think it would be very beneficial for your son to speak with the counselor at his school, and hopefully the counselor can get to the bottom of why he is treating his sister this way (and doesn't bully his older sister). Again, I think this all boils down to him wishing you and your husband gave him as much attention as his younger sister gets. In addition to the counselor, start showering your son with even more love and affection than I'm sure you and your husband already give him (please know I am not accusing you of not giving him attention), and see if his behavior improves. Best of luck!


answers from Oklahoma City on

sibling rivarly...can't tell you how many times my brother and i pestered eacher, made me cry physically hurt me, actually held me down against my will once, and got my (at the time) step brother and sister in on the dog pile because i started freaking out, REALLY wanting up, stuff like that, even told me once that i was an accident and mom didn't "mean to have me" i was nothing more than an "accident" yeah i went crying to her, but she turned the tables on him FAST, we all remember that day..and laugh so hard about it now, i probably tell it more than mom and bubba, mainly because my mom's reactions was TOTALLY unexpected and totally backing me up

they are siblings and will continue to fight, my daughter fights with her two step sister's who are twice her age and only there every other weekend, and same with her cousins who are with us MAYBE once or twice a month.

it's nothing you're doing, just kids being kids


answers from Dallas on

It's more normal than you think. My boys are the same way, there is a lot of jealousy. I have 3 children too, my oldest is a girl the younger two are both boys. My middle son, who was my baby for 9 years, is a great kid, however, he's always picked on his siblings. When they get older I know they will be very close. I think for boys, jealousy and attention are the biggest reasons. Do you think your son doesn't love his sister at all? Then there's a problem, I'm the same way, because I feel my middle son who is 9 years older than his baby brother shouldn't be teasing so much. Now the younger one will stand up to his brother and pick on him too, but he does cry a lot and that is what gets me upset.
Your son probably doesn't realize all that he's doing, but there is probably a part of him that sees her weakness and is trying to make her stronger. I bet no one will ever be able to hurt his sister, he'll have her back. Boys are just wired different and do have more aggression in them. Try to spend more one on one time with him too.
Also know you are not alone, there are a lot of us out there...



answers from Minneapolis on

So when things are working well, what are you doing (or not doing)? I am wondering if in all the hustle of a busy life, his new behaviors are getting ignored. I do NOT suggest heavy praising, but maybe some time taken to walk him through some type of 'this event happened, you did <nice thing>, your sisters and parents reacted <this way>. It felt <this way> to you. conversation. I find walking kids through connecting the dots with cause and events is helpful.

You can also think about and watch for what his "payoff" is when he's like this. Does he like the reactions? (So then can you teach your daughters to ignore it or downplay it so it will stop.) Does he like the burst of attention on him? (Can you find other things to burst attention to him? ) Is he upset and is this his way to let people know? (Lead him through a better way to express what he's upset about, what he wants to happen and how he should say it.)

Also, something that he's done for years - don't expect it to be fixed once and then it's perfectly okay from then on. So if he does it for a day or two - strengthen the habit. If he falls off the horse, so to speak, help him get back on. Learning new actions is the same process as learning any new habit.

Two good books, if you like reading are "Siblings Without Rivalries" and also "Mom! Jason's Breathing on Me." Jane Nelsen is also a good author, but I don't remember offhand if she has a book that is specific to siblings.

Hope things get better!



answers from Washington DC on

I don't really have a perfect solution to this problem. But, I did some reading on bossy/mean/teasing behavior among elementary school children recently.

According to what I've read, bossy/mean/teasing bahavior usually comes from (a) trying to gain power or (b) cover up one's insecurity.

How is your son's relationship with his older sister or other friends? Is it possible that he feels like his sister/friends are often "in charge" and he wants to have control over something (and therefore uses his little sister as a control source)?

When your son starts to harass his little sister, take your daughter away quickly without giving attention to your son saying something like "Mary, let me show you something fun over here, " or "I'll read you a book, Mary."

The book I read also suggested giving the bossy child a "job" like feeding the family pet, or take in the mail so he feels like he has control over something.

My dd can be a bit bossy/mean to one of her friends (she is not this way with other kids), so I am trying to find the solution too.

Good luck!

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