My Children Hate Each Other!

Updated on March 13, 2012
J.S. asks from Monterey, VA
11 answers

Hi mom's!
Just a quick question. How do you get your children to get along?
I have four plus two step-children.
The step-kids:
14 year old boy Todd
16 year old girl Shyliegh

My four:
5 year old Fiona
3 year old Rachel
and twins:
Shawn and Skyla - 2 weeks

Rachel and Fiona disagree on everything, and they have begun to get violent recently. Things like thats my Barbie, but want to play with her, you can't it's mine, snatch the Barbie and whack the other with it.
Rachel dislikes Shawn, and has taken to flicking him, which is reprimanded for, I don't think she understands that it is wrong though. and the hospital recommended that i keep the twins in the same crib, I do not think this going to work. tonight when i put them down they both cried until i separated them.
Shyliegh won't babysit any of the little ones, she will actually run off for the time which she was supposed to watch them. Excuses such as I have to be at my moms tonight, are very common.
Todd is the easy one, he is completely indifferent to all the others. They want to sit with him and watch him play video games, he doesn't care, etc.
Ads i was writing this Fiona, just picked up Skyla from her mat on the floor and dropped her back down ( it did not seem accidental, as i was watching, told her not to touch the babies she said okay mommy, smiled and walked away, i turned back to the computer, and thump, cries, laughter.

what is wrong with my children, they have turned into monsters!! why do they hate each other?

p.s. We also have my hubby's nephew staying with us while he finishes high school, as he had a difficult time at his last school. He is 18 year old Austin. (he has actually been helpful) entertains Fiona and Rachel when he gets home from school.

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So What Happened?

Ok this is getting out of control. How do you punish a 5 year old for physically harming her baby siblings? I understand that she may be jealous, but she just tried to drag Shawn out of the crib through the rungs by his foot. He is still screaming. Skyla has a bump on the back of her head and a bruise forming around her eye, this just appeared as i was putting Shawn in the crib, when i went to see why she was crying, Fiona pulled the crap with Shawn.
How do i teach her not to?

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answers from Houston on

You need to seriously teach each child about handling those young infants, give them actual consequences and follow through with them immediately. The 5 and 3 year old girls are not too young to know better.

Dr. Sears has some good advice on discipline tactics and sibling rivalry for their age group here:

Good luck!

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answers from Corpus Christi on

Well I can say that I sort of know what your going through. I have 2 step daughters 15 and 11. And I also have my 2 boys who are 3 and 2. I will tell you straight up that it is jealousy. Your daughter Fiona, is more than likely jealous of the twins and Rachel because they came after her, she probably feels as if she isn't that important to you. New babies can be tough on toddlers. My stepdaughter was 9 when i had my now 2yr old. And she was definitely jealous. She would act out at school, yell at her older sister, yell at her brothers. Maybe you should try and do something special with your daughter Fiona, just to show her that you do still love her even though you have other babies. Do like a mother daughter day, just you and her. And as for your step kids, They just don't like having a step mom. Or the fact that their dad met and had kids with someone else. It's normal, and the same thing happened to me. when I got pregnant with my 2nd son, my then 9yr old daughter was really jealous and didn't want to have anything to do with me or my other son, but she has come around. Hope everything get's better for you! <3

-----------------dont know how to post a responce. sorry. lol-------------

Not to sound rude or anything, but where is your husband through all of this? He should also be there to help you discipline them. If you have to, sit her in time out, or take away her toys. And as a last resort, take her to a psychiatrist. I know that sounds like a bit much, but maybe it could help her. Maybe she needs someone other than mommy or daddy to talk to.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

She is getting pleasure from others' pain. Its time to give her pain. I would recommend swatting her and make it hurt so she experiences pain like she is causing pain. Don't try and match the pain. Make her pain (spanking) much worse so she realizes what she is doing and the consequences of her actions.

Then be consistant. In our home we had a problem with biting. I tried and tried to get it to stop. Finally I gathered the kids together and told them if you bite you get swat. I told them I didn't care if they were trying to get someone to stop doing something to them or not. I just told them if you bit, you get swat. It took about 3 or 4 MONTHS to get it to stop, but it was well worth it.

I wanted my kids to be friends. So I swatted for mean behavior. I praised each child and made sure I NEVER allowed teasing or them ganging up on one another. I NEVER judged one by one of their siblings accomplishments.

My dad taught my brother and I to be enemies. When my brother did something praiseworth, my dad told me what my brother had done and asked why I couldn't be like that. When I did something praiseworthy my dad told my brother about it and asked why he couldn't be more like me. BUT my dad never told me or my brother congratulations or praised us for what we had done. Now some of my dad's methods can probably be excused because my mom and dad were only children and had no experience with siblings. (That's one of the reasons I think no one should be raised as an only child.)

Now is the time to correct the bad behavior. If you don't, they will make your life absolutley miserable when they get to be teenagers.

Good luck to you and yours.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

#1 - You are going to have to invest A LOT of time and energy into teaching your children how to get along. You have to role model each and every time how to resolve a conflict that you witness, how to correctly pick up a baby and how to place them back down. Every time. Until they get it.

#2 - They must learn to respect each others 'No'

#3 - Absolutely NO physical responses like whacking, flicking, kicking.
You must have consequences for it.

Good luck must start now. It won't get better until you make it so. Just baby steps. You must be exhausted right now. Give every body a time out if you need it.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

There is NO way that you can make kids hate each other faster than making them responsible for their siblings. In case of your older step kids... unless they agree to babysit their younger siblings it is not something you can expect of them.
How do you tell a five year old not to hit her sister over the head with a barbie? Well you tell them and if they don't listen you give a consequence. My DD is in daycare with 20 other 4 year olds and they all seem have no trouble understanding that hitting or hurting others is unacceptable!

You can use whatever method of discipline you prefer just as long as its consistent and predictable for your child. We use time outs. But to be honest we have not had any issues with DD trying to hit, kick or bite in years. Most kids know by age three that doing physical harm to others is not acceptable.
You need to get a handle on this ASAP and never, ever leave your newborns unattended. Your younger children are too young to understand that the consequence of things like dropping their newborn siblings can put them in the hospital or worse. BUT they are not too young to know that hurting others will not be tolerated in your family.
I am sorry you are going through this, but your first priority is to keep your newborns safe. Hire help if you have to. Keep the other children physically separated if you must (baby gates, play pen, whatever is necessary). Put your foot down and stop letting your 5 year old run the roost.
Good luck.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Sounds like they are bored and need something else to do. Keep them busy.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I second the question about where is your husband in all this? He needs to be helping you, especially with his kids.

I may be in the minority, but it's not your older step kids responsibility to babysit your kids. You had them, they didn't. However, they should be doing OTHER chores around the house - picking up after themselves, keeping themselves out of trouble. etc.
"I'm supposed to be at my mom's tonight" isn't an "excuse" - it's probably court ordered. If she's supposed to be at her mom's then there is nothing you can do about that.

The only way that you can keep your older kids from hurting your younger ones is to be RIGHT THERE with them all. Your 3 year old seems jealous and wants attention. She's figured out how to get it, by hurting the younger kids, who she feels are taking your attention away from her.

You may have to hire some help so you can spend more individual time with your each of kids. especially if your husband can't/won't help out more.

You need to have dedicated time with EACH of your kids individually, including the older step kids.

The younger ones need to learn that hurting the younger kids is NOT ok. I, personally wouldn't do that by inflicting pain on them - but that is a parenting style difference. I would be involved with the newborns and not give the older ones a chance. They should be playing, or involved in an activity.
Good Luck

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Lansing on

Holy Cow! You have 7 kids in your home? Wow kudos to you momma! I have four and there is just certain behavior that is ABSOLUTELY NOT tolerated. YOU will get you butt whipped if you hurt a younger sibling. The barbie will go in the trash if you use it as a weapon. Like so many other people have said you better put your foot down now or it's going to be hell when they are teenagers! Start going crazy momma on them (not the babies of course). Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Cumberland on

Please don't leave the twins with any of the other children-the others clearly are not to be trusted, and the twins are entirely helpless.

You could have a meeting with everyone present and go over the rules-have copies for everyone. Be brief and clear. I don't know why there is such hostility-but you need to nip it in the bud before someone gets seriously hurt. I would dare say that your children have spoken as to the size of the family that they want. I would concentrate on doing the best you can with these children and I wish you all the best.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Hi, J.:

What you need in the family is a set of rules.
I suggest you have a circle dialogue with your husband and children.
Get some poster boards and ask your oldest if she will be the secretary for the circle dialogue and write down the rules or expectations for the family.
Everyone participates with listing the rules.

When a rule is broken:

Circle up with everyone that is available when the problem occurs.

These are the questions to ask the Initiator of the problem (offender)

1. What happened?
2. What were you thinking of at the time?
3. What have you thought about since?
4. Who has been affected by what you have done? In what way?
5. What do you think you need to do to make things right?

These are the questions you ask the recipient of the problem (victim)

1. What did you think when you realized what had happened?
2. What impact has this incident had on you and others?
3. What has been the hardest thing for you?
4. What do you think needs to happen to make things right?

In this way, both children are able to think about what happened and learn how to resolve their issues between themselves.

Every time something happens, circle up and ask these questions. In time, the older children can be the mediators.

Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

The first thing I wanted to reply to was your comment that Shyliegh won't babysit the younger ones. She is 16 years old and was not the one that decided to have four young children. While I completely agree that watching the younger ones is family responsibility, it absolutely should NOT fall on her shoulders. If you need to do a quick errand, she should want to help, but if she is "babysitting" she should be rewarded for it. My mother had my half-brother when I was 13, and she did an excellent job of not expecting my sister and I to "babysit." It actually made us WANT to help and never made us feel like the family's caretaker. However, if she agrees to babysit (and yes, I believe you should always ask her), then she should honor her commitment.

In my opinion, babysitting siblings does not fall under the responsibilities of an older child.

As far as the other children go, I agree with other moms in that the older children should be kept away from the babies! Some of your comments actually make me concerned for their safety! They should NEVER be left alone with the babies.

I have a 6 & 3 year old and have had the same problem, but less violent and more with bickering over toys & such. I would hold the 5-yr old accountable for all her actions. Do time-outs work? She should have to sit out for 5 mins (within your eyesight) and think about her behavior. Then she needs to explain to YOU why she was in time-out. Then she needs to apologize to her sibling for her behavior. Every single time. I'm guessing she's just jealous? Maybe she could use a little one-on-one time with Mom, but not sure how you'll manage that one! Haha!

Most importantly, make your rules and be consistent. Violence towards siblings should not be tolerated at all.

Wishing you the best of luck! And happy children!

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