My 10 year old son is so jealous and competitive with his younger brother it is making our lives a misery

(58 Posts)

Once again I have come to school to find that ds1 has been picking on ds2 (7) at break time. Ds2 does not have many friends, and he is lonely. Ds1 found him sitting on a bench by himself and decided it would be fun to keep nicking his hat and throwing it around. Ds2 stumbled and got hurt trying to get his hat back.

I was meant to take them swimming, they have lessons, but I could not face the whole pool palaver, I am so upset, and have come home. Ds1 is grounded to his room with homework.

Yesterday Ds2 had his first playdate in nearly a year. The two boys had been planning what to do for over a week, as they are both big fans of minecraft. Unbeknown to me, DS1 has logged into the game from his Ipod and kept shooting them, so they lost everything they had gathered, and could not build what they wanted. Ds2 was upset and crying. Both boys felt that Ds1 had ruined their game.

Ds1 admitted that he was jealous of ds2. Ds2 has always been good at sports, has a great balance, and is flexible and fast. Ds1 is not great at sport, but academic. Ds2 is not that academic.

Ds2 took up skateboarding, ds1 has managed to discourage him through constant put downs. Ds2 no longer wants to ski, as ds1 has discouraged and put him down. Everytime ds2 is happy that he has managed to do something, or achieve something, ds1 is there rubbishing it saying "oh that is nothing, not sure why you are boasting, I can do that much better". Even if he cant. And if he can, it is no wonder as he is more than 3 years older!

I am so sick of it, and so disheartened. He is making ds2s life, and our lives, totally crap.

My heart is breaking for my poor ds2, who is a really happy and lovely chap, and ds1 is so nasty to him that he seems to be succeeding in ruining all his confidence.

I really dislike what ds1 is doing.

I am again beginning to wonder if the only reasonable thing to do is for dh and I to live apart with one boy each. sad

WhereMyMilk Wed 06-Feb-13 17:49:47

Not sure if this will help, but when I got to the end of my tether with DS1, read a lot about positive parenting. This really really works for him, as has done love bombing.

If we try any form of punishment or negative with him, he will automatically dig his heels in and do the opposite. So we have had to turn everything on it's head and praise what is good, and do rewards-gets stars per good thing, such as coming to table when called, not fighting with DD or DS2 etc, which he can then translate into something he really wants-this can be anything from a certain book or DVD to trip to cinema, bike ride with DH etc.

We also really determinedly now, each try to get some one to one time with each DC over the weekend, so they get your undivided attention. Sometimes just going for a walk, or doing a jigsaw, or trip out, sometimes, just a cuddle/chat/watch DVD together.

Sounds like it's worth a try. Good luck,x

I do actually think I have a lot of empathy and understanding into DS1, and can describe what he is doing, and understand why.

When I say that our youngest gets comfort and cuddles, while ds1 gets told off, this is only on each occasion where ds1 has hurt or upset ds2. I cant ignore it completely, that is not fair on ds2!

Ds1 gets comfort and cuddles plenty! No less than ds2! Ds2 comes over for hugs more often than ds1 though.

Our tactic so far has mostly been to talk to him, try to explain, and certain sanctions as ipod ban. He has still had his laptop, and play station!

We do have fun with him, either we do things separately, or together the 4 of us. They are in different groups at swimming where ds1 seems to be developing friendships with some of the boys, which I think is great. He has had more children home to play than ds2, because we have put bigger effort into ds1 than ds2.

What I realized yesterday, when ds2 had his friend over, was that we have probably gone about this the wrong way entirely. The result is that it seems to me that we have not done enough to protect ds2's confidence in this! Ds1 appears confident plenty, whereas ds2 now has little belief left in himself.
It seems to me that our approach to the problem, in building ds1 up, and bigging him up, as allowed him to put ds2 down. We have failed! Instead of building the confidence in both our boys, only ONE now seems to have confidence, and that is ds1!

Weekends are mostly devoted to doing things together as a family that all enjoy. They get to do skate-parks, indoor skiing, museums, bicycle rides, we go to the swimming pool, walks, trips to the cinema, or just relax at home watching a movie, playing a board game, etc.

They both get lots of attention.

Ds2 also goes to gymnastics, his brother does not do this activity. Ds2 however loves it, and will spend time at home doing gymnastics moves.
And I think this is part of the resentment. Ds2 is very flexible and strong, works hard, and won a gold medal in the club championships recently.

It is now a bone of contention for ds1 that he has not achieved something like this in any of the sports he has tried. He has not stuck with any sport long enough. He did not want to play tennis anymore, so we let him quit. He did not want to do fencing, so we let him quit. He is good at swimming! But he does not feel he is fast enough. But when we take him to the pool he just plays in the water and have no interest in actually swimming. Ds2, who is only level 4 for swimming, will actually spend time practicing his strokes and turns. So it appears to me that ds1 is not keen to practice, and gives up easily if he does not straight away master something.

This summer ds1 went with dad up a mountain that was 1300m from sea level. He got plenty of praise for that achievement. A couple of days later we all went up a mountain that was 1100. Ds2 struggled towards the end and needed lots of encouragement. He therefore got plenty of praise to keep him going. Ds1 did not struggle, but raised up ahead, he got annoyed with ds2s praise, as he felt it was undue, because HE had done a bigger achievement a few days earlier. He started sulking, and started dragging his feet coming down from the mountain. He seems envious of any praise ds2 gets, so the end result is that we have been trying NOT to praise ds2 so much when ds1 is around.

We just dont know what to do anymore.

It seems that our leniency and focus on helping ds1 is really putting ds2 at a disadvantage now.

CinnabarRed Wed 06-Feb-13 18:02:49

We just dont know what to do anymore.

Then another vote for family therapy, or counselling for DS1. What's to lose?

How do we go about finding family therapy?

bigTillyMint Wed 06-Feb-13 18:26:55

Yes, I agree, I think you should get a CAMHS referral. Go to your GP or SENCo at school and talk to them honestly about your concerns.

It sounds like, for whatever reasons, your DS1 is either very unhappy at the moment or perhaps has some undiagnosed social difficulties. Equally your DS2 needs support to rebuild his confidence. CAMHS should be able to assess and support.

I read the love bombing thing. It seems to be quite close to the approach we have followed, on a regular basis the last year.

They have both gotten treat days where they have been on control, and decided what to do and got plenty of love and attention. Not to the point of weekends away alone with just one parent.

But ds1 is very money focused and wants things bought for him constantly.

Iwasagnome Wed 06-Feb-13 18:32:33

Can I recommend the 7 habits series of books,either The 7 habits of highly effective families(!)or the one aimed at teenagers.
If things haven't gone too far try to get them to see your family as a team.
Sorry you are going through this

didldidi Wed 06-Feb-13 18:49:58

This sounds very much like my DS1 who is about to turn 10. He also can't accept his brother (also nearly 7) is stronger academically and does put him down alot.

DS1 does has dyslexic traits and mears irlen (?) syndrome, difficulty concentrating, very low self esteem and struggles to stick at hobbies. He feels the need to be in control and can't see when he's in the wrong!

Chandon Wed 06-Feb-13 18:54:47

Yes, forgot to say ypu have my sympathy too.

And also, do not tink other families are perfect.

Imo, parenting is a constant challenge as the goal posts keep moving! I always feel I am one step behind...

mercibucket Wed 06-Feb-13 19:19:36

I'm so pleased you would consider family therapy, this is such a sad thread. I feel the key is ds1, even though that sounds counter-intuitive, he sounds v unhappy and is making those around him unhappy too.

I don't think your DS1 sounds confident at all. It seems to me that he actually has quite low self esteem, hence the need to put others down and big himself up. He's looking outside himself to find ways to escape whatever uncomfortable feelings he has. Perhaps you or a counsellor can help him get to the root of why it upsets him so much to see other people praised, what he thinks that means and how it impacts on him. It seems like he has some underlying beliefs about himself in relation to others that need to be dispelled and then the behaviour will stop. Just my thoughts based on what I see here though. You sound very caring and supportive so I'm sure you will get to the bottom of this as a family. Good luck.

TheSecondComing Wed 06-Feb-13 21:23:32

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

I think ds1s problem is that he is thinking too much, and he takes everything really to heart.

He does appear to like us. He appears to enjoy spending time with us. But I imagine his problems really are that he wants friends, and he cant seem to be able to make any.

He told me this evening during our "quiet evening chat time" (I usually go in and chat to him after he has gone to bed. Sit down on his bed and just talk a bit. Give him a massage if his neck is sore, etc) that two of the stronger characters in his class had started standing up for him a bit, they had said how unfair it was that the others were picking on him. Both these kids are awesome and sporty. He felt good about that. What is bothering him the most is a girl that gives him the wimpy kid treatment. Pretend he is not there. Talk to him and when he replies says stuff like "Is there a talking door here?" and stuff like that.
He does not know how to deal with things like that.

It is not like it is like this every day. It can be months, where everything seems fine, and then suddenly BAM!

Most of the time I feel that I am a good and fair mum. I just dont know how to make things better for him.

Uprooting him from London in Y1 and spending 3 years in Norway seems to have really caused him trouble.

Chandon Thu 07-Feb-13 10:05:24

We moved country twice, and it is a ig deal and kids need time an space and help to settle again.

What is your husband's relationship with DS1 like? I find that my husband is a vey important figure for the oys, at this age ( sometimes I even feel like the second choice parent!), also, when my DS 1 clashes with DH it is because they are so similar, if that makes sense. What is that like for your family?

It soudns as if you feel solely responsible for DS happiness, what does your DH do?

TheSecondComing Thu 07-Feb-13 11:32:19

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

50shadesofvomit Thu 07-Feb-13 11:55:40

My 11 and 9 year old went through this when they were 7 and 5.

I would spend more time with ds1. Do you think he went up to ds2 at school because he had nobody to play with? If so, I'd talk to him about playing with ds2 in a nice way. Playing catch or tag is fun but not teasing etc.
As others said, treat the 2 as separate individuals with different interests and activities. This worked well here.
I have talked to ds1 about my relationship with my siblings and how annoying they were and jealous I felt. He liked hearing that. I try to make time just for him (even 10 minutes a day) and I tell him what I love about him as I felt that we were in a cycle of him feeling bad about himself.

My husband is working a lot. We are under a lot of pressure as we nearly lost our uk business in the years we were in Norway, and we have the normal recession issues as well. This also means he is working a lot in the evenings, and sometimes at the weekends too.

Having said that, when he does have a window of opportunity, his first choice is the kids. He is a very hands on dad. He does breakfast and drives them to school most mornings. They plan fantastic projects together, like they build a cart like this when we were in Norway, so the kids could participate in races. They were planning a massive trebuchet with left over materials, but that did not happen (thankfully). He takes them skiing on his own, and to the pool. In Christmas he took them out cross country skiing in the evening nearly everyday. He has had lots of fun Lego Mindstorm projects with DS1.

He bought them a skating ramp for the garden, and they are currently planning on extending it. I think he is the "fun dad" and I am the "nurturing mum". Ds1 keeps saying "You are the best mum ever". We both can be a bit shouty when they bicker and argue, especially if ds1 hurts ds2.

We were talking about it yesterday, the only time we are really angry is if ds1 is putting ds2 in danger. Like when he held his head under water in the pool. When he pushed a pencil so far into ds2s hand the pencil was standing up! When he punched him in the head, etc. Other than that we are gently (maybe too gentle) and loving parents. They have clear boundaries, which they break, and the consequences is usually just lack of screen time for a day or two.

I honestly dont think it is an attention thing. Our friends keep saying "oh you are so good doing things with your kids and going places".

50shades, good point telling him what he can do rather what he cant such as "if you and your brother are lonely, why dont you play tag together" etc.

RosemaryandThyme Thu 07-Feb-13 12:56:52

The suggestions here are really good.

One more point that might help, there is a lot of materialism mentioned throughout your posts, ipods, expensive games and gadgets, pricey ski lessons etc, desire by DS1 to have yet more stuff bought for him etc.

is it possible that the kid is swamped by all this stuff ?

you might find he gets to his authentic decent self through much more traditional childhood fun, could you box up all the electronic gizmos, abandon the mount everest climbing type focus, and give him a chance to get back to the roots of childhood ?

How would he be with a morning on a blustary British beach with nothing for that ice-cream money and a football ?

deXavia Thu 07-Feb-13 13:11:36

So from what you've said DS1 was about 6 when you left, 3 years away and now back to your original home - for what a year? And he is someone who takes things to heart. Sounds like he imagined how he'd come back - a bit different, a bit special - but that didn't pan out. Pretty tough especially as he probably remembered the other kids from when he was 6, thought he knew what he was coming back to but of course everything changes. Also the things he enjoyed and was good at when living abroad - sking for example - he can't do here. Net result he is lashing out.

If it was me I'd take two approaches
i) get him some support, someone he can talk to and relearn social skills. Also to learn how to be just a normal kid here. I agree with Rosemary - stop the fencing, tennis and big projects, kick back and chill. Let everyone get settled back into mundane UK life. And frankly I'd do it now before yet another big change with Secondary school.
ii) set up some base rules (then cut slack on the other stuff) so for example no violence, end of story. Sanctions need to be significant and based on things that matter. Maybe if your DS2 knew that was non negotiable he'd feel more secure.

We do find it is a bit difficult to "just do nothing".
One of the main reason why we are doing so much is perhaps that this keep the boys from bickering. They get on perfectly fine if we are out cycling, and doing stuff.

Living in London we are quite far from a typical British beach. We have a garden, but it is a bit cold now. And the boys find it a bit boring, and not much to do in the garden.

They had three years of living by the woods, next to a little stream. They would go out picking blueberries behind the house, and just play by the stream. Ds2 would spend hours enjoying the wildlife, collecting beetles from leaves, etc. Ds1 could go jogging on his own. There were always things to just do outside the house.

It sounds idyllic, but the other kids in the street did exclude ds1 quite a bit. They had grown up together, and when the first novelty of "the boy from Britain" wore off, they were saying stuff like "The English are stupid and we dont play with foreigners" - even though I am Norwegian, and dh Polish, so strictly speaking not English at all. He would be heartbroken that the other kids would play on his neighbours trampoline, and not his. And they did not let him join.

I think it is terrible. His entire life he has been excluded. And no matter how hard we have tried to get him settled with friends, it has not worked. We really hoped coming back would be better.

Ds2 is so easy going, he has not really been bothered either way. He was only 3 when we moved to Norway, and 6 when we returned. So he went straight from nursery in Norway and to Y2, and has worked his socks off but coped fine.

deXavia Thu 07-Feb-13 13:35:48

Two things struck me from your last post
i) you had space in Norway - so maybe its as simple as they are more penned in than before. Going for a jog on his own, pottering around collecting beetles is doing nothing if you have the countryside next door. Maybe they miss that chance for space
ii) DS1 also had trouble making friends in Norway. Honestly I think thats your root cause, and if its been going on that long I think he needs some outside help. Maybe he was miserable in Norway with lack of friends and thought coming home would solve that - and then it didn't. Maybe its something about how he interacts with kids.
Lots of maybe's but he does sound like he needs some help.

RosemaryandThyme Thu 07-Feb-13 13:41:31

"Keeps them from bickering " - LET THEM BICKER !! you can't save them endlessly, they need to argue, bicker, and find ways to resolve their differences verbally, both boys are each others best training ground - they have the sibling advantage of being able to learn life skills in negotiation, in losing, in pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, before they are out in the real world of unpredictable friends, bosses, colleagues etc.

Garden a bit boring - LET THEM BE BORED !!! - LET THEM STAY BORED - from utter boredom comes imagination, creativity, dreams and schemes, plans and hopes, appreciation of the company of your fellow man, connectedness with your enviroment and the people and animals that inhabit it - boredom makes the intellect click, ideas be born and true happiness take flight.
Constant entertainment gets in the way, distracts and vanishes as soon as theres a power-cut or the money runs out.

Give him the nothingness he deserves, to get to meet himself, only then will his jug be full enough to share out with others.

We have an appointment with his gp today, maybe I can talk to her about getting him some counselling.

I rather get the ball rolling before he starts secondary.

He is a lot happier at the school here. He is in a small RC primary, and he says at least he is not bullied. Children here are not big bullies like in Norway. He also says that if he could move his school to Norway and live in Norway, it would be perfect.

It is almost as if life was better, but school not, so combination of his London school with life in Norway would be perfect. Ish. He likes skiing, mountains and beaches, he enjoyed that life. Just not the cold, and bullying classmates.

Rosemary a lot of what you say resonate with me.

It just occurs to me that part of the problem could be that dh works from home, and either from in the house or the garden office. He cant concentrate if they are out being bored in the garden.

We need to ensure that they have space to be kids.

However, I want us to hire an office space so we can keep work and family life separate. He is unwilling to do this yet, as finances wont allow it. We may have to close down this spring, so silly to take on an office lease if we are on the verge of giving up. So many factors.

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