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

Sorry for not coming back, it has been a busy couple of days. I have really tried to re-examine the time we spend with both children, and although I thought we have a good balance, maybe we need to work harder to make up for the hard things. The moving, my sons having to cope with my mums Alzheimers, the unsettling and resettling.

You are all right about his confidence.

On Friday, dh took ds straight from school to Ikea to get a desk, and then on to the snow center. They spent 4 hours learning tricks, with an instructor who was at hand helping the kids out. It transpires that ds1 feels bad about his skiing abilities because he feels he is getting rusty and his Norwegian mates were so much better. They had been laughing at him on the slopes. Rubbish really, as ds1 is an excellent skier. He is fast, he masters the turns technically, he can do jumps and tricks. But, he has not been skiing everyday thought the season as his old classmates have, the last two years.

He is not sporty as such, but he wants to be. The biggest problem at school is during sports/PE. He had a great PE lesson today and was really keen to talk about it. Also, DS2 was praised in Assembly for being pupil of the week for his amazing academic progress. It seemed that ds1 was not jealous of this, as by the time ds2 told me, I had spent the entire car journey home listening to ds1 talk about PE and praised him on his good efforts and been genuinely happy for him.

He feels that he is the slowest swimmer in his group.

I guess there is a big disparity between how he feels about his achievements and what we think of them, as we think he is doing great, but he does not really agree?

superbabysmummy Fri 08-Feb-13 17:27:09

Haven't read the whole thread but wanted to offer some thoughts... Based on personal experience - I have no relationship with my sister through what started as sibling rivalry and was never dealt with by my parents, now I hardly ever see my parents (we even live in the same town!) & have nothing at all to do with my sister.

Looking back the main cause of the problem was because they took from me to give to her, my sister revelled in this & my parents didn't recognise it. As I was older I was always the one in the wrong so my sister played on this. On one occasion she actually cried & told my parents that I had hit her and I hadn't, I was punished & she was rewarded. I understand that children need to share but they also need to have things of their own otherwise it breeds resentment, you also need to spend quality alone time with each child, make them feel they have your 100% attention and each one has 'their thing' in common with you. It's so hard to divide time up especially if you work but I can't tell you how important it is to give your undivided attention equally to each child.

Doyouthinktheysaurus Fri 08-Feb-13 07:41:42

What a sad thread....I feel for you and your dses, it must be so hard.

For what it's worth, DH moved away for several years during his schooling at a similar age and has always said how much he struggled returning to the same school later. Friendship groups had moved on and they had different life experiences. He's 52 now and still talks about it so it certainly had a lasting impact.

I changed schools at 10 and never settled, it's not easy for some children.

My 10 year old ds1 can be a little like yours, he tends to boost his confidence by telling us what he is good athmm and ignoring the stuff he isn't good at completely. He struggles with giving others praise too, especially his 8 year old brother. Ds2 is very laid back though and doesn't take it to heart. I think ds2 is confident enough in his own abilities not to be fussed by ds1 trying to make out he is better at everything. They generally do have a very strong bond too and play together all the time so it's not quite the same as your situation.

Your ds1 does sound very unhappy. Not sure what the answer is but I think counselling for him would probably be a really good start.

sashh Fri 08-Feb-13 06:32:22

He seems to chose to do wrong deliberately, as on every turn I think "He knows this behaviour is wrong, so why on earth is he doing it".

From his point of view because he is always in trouble so it might as well be for something he has done.

As for making friends, I moved schools three times in three years and I just thought there was no point making friends because we would be moving again.

Daddy day sounds like a good idea. Keeping them apart as much as possible with different hobbies will also help.

Have you tried 'catch them doing something good', ie praise the good stuff. Even if he has been a little shit all day, if he does something good praise him, don't do the, 'well it's about time you behaved'.

What rewards has he got for his good work / part in the play/ whatever? Sporting achievements are often praised whilst academic achievements are not.

What I mean is, if you are good at skiing you get picked for a team, if you get 100% on an exam .............. well what do you get?

Could be that waiting lists are long!

DS1 was very happy that I asked for this help for him.

He is having daddy day tomorrow, with a trip to the snow center after school, going by Ikea to by him a new desk. He got 100% in his assessment tests for maths, so he is also very pleased with that. He is going to do a solo at a choir festival next month. He was chosen to pay macbeth in a co production between local primaries, and captain for the basket ball team, so plenty for him to boost his confidence, but not from a social friendship perspective. He just does not really see his own achievements.

Ds2 is going to a birthday party. His second in the last 7 days. Ds1 has not been to a birthday party since October. His age group does not do big parties. He sees other Y6 boys go home together after school, and he is upset. He interprets that as them going off to have fun, and he gets resentful. I know however, that they just walk together as they live nearby. They will part on the next road down from the school! He sees everything as a slight on him.

bigTillyMint Thu 07-Feb-13 17:37:26

Pure, well done for going to the GP. No family is perfect and you definitely have my sympathies.

I can't believe that (if you are in N London) there is no CAMHS (although there may be very long waiting lists) - he should be able to refer you there, but if not, you could try the school SENCO/inclusion manager. In the meantime, maybe it is worth eploring private support.

The work at home situation should hopefully be sorted within the next couple of months. Taking his work to a pub, or out, is not that practical, he is on many telephone conferences, so spend half his afternoon on the phone. (Not sales, technical issues)

I did mention our issues to the GP, regards to moving, being bullied and unsettled, and then returning and having problems with confidence and developing friendships. GP said there was very little help for his age group, and if I wanted to go private. I said anything really, if it can help his confidence and to work through issues, prior to starting secondary. So he should have a think and see what he can find, and I am to come back in two weeks to discuss further. So hopefully we will get somewhere!

RosemaryandThyme Thu 07-Feb-13 13:54:09

Oh - the working from home scenario must put you under a lot of pressure to keep the boys quite so that dad can work, I've three, two of them boys and the combination can be sooo noisy - even when they are getting on well, noise seems to be an inherent part of play of almost any kind.

Is there a park near school or home that they could head to?

Could Dad take paper-work and computer to pub for an hour after school some days ?

Also some office spaces can be rented by the hour, meeting rooms, hotel conference rooms etc.

All the best.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 13:11:36

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.

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 ?

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.

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".

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.

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

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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?

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.

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

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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.

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.

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...

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