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DD bullying DS for faaaaar too long. It needs to stop now but I don't know how.

(59 Posts)
FredWorms Thu 13-Sep-12 11:38:48

DS is 13, DD is 11 and they have a younger brother who's 6. DD (middle child) has bullied her older brother on and off for several years, yes, years, and I just don't know how to make it stop.

She is never kind to him and she speaks to him like dirt from morning until night. He will come down in the morning, bright new day, and say "Morning Sis!". She will either ignore him, grunt, or throw him a disgusted look. She calls him fat, stupid, she scoffs at everything he says and everything he does. He either ignores or resorts to shouting and occasionally lashes out, usually hair-pulling, and is pretty much instantly remorseful.

We've tried everything. Ignoring bad behaviour, rewarding good, punishments (withdrawal of privileges, sending to her room) and everything we do seems to make her more resentful of him and to hate him more. We live in a very small house and it's hard to keep them physically apart, which wouldn't be dealing with the problem anyway. I've tried saying she doesn't have to like him but we expect certain standards of behaviour, but she is utterly intransigent. She has never, ever shown any sign of regret or remorse.

He is puzzled, bewildered and his self-esteem is dented, to say the least.

They are very different characters.He is kind, stoic, considerate, a deep-thinker, totally un-sporty and a self-confessed nerd with a profound sense of fairness. She is very competitive, quick-witted, grabs life with both hands and can be very caring and loving. She has to win, be the first, the best, and often succeeds! I think part of it is that she cannot stand the fact that he is the eldest and gets to do/learn everything before her, but she has a plethora of experiences (not to mention certificates) that are unique to her.

Their younger brother is pretty much adored by all, particularly his sister which adds to the hurt for her older brother.

One of my children is suffering, another of my children is the cause, I love them equally and I don't know what to do.

I'd particularly love to speak with anyone who's been through similar? Maybe there are books that could help?

I really do have to do some work now. Back later, and thanks smile

schobe Thu 13-Sep-12 12:10:49

This sounds really tricky. I guess my (inexperienced) approach would be just to continue INSISTING on a certain level of politeness otherwise sanctions happen.

Surely she wouldn't just continue to be so rude if she was consistently having consequences that she found uncomfortable? I would apply sanctions for absence of basic civility (eg good morning) as well as insults.

Obviously there is also a place for conversations about this and exercises in empathy eg 'how would you feel if <schoolfriend or younger bro> started to treat you like this and it was allowed to continue?' Can you start a book for each DC where they can write down anything that is bothering them for you to read?

I don't think you can worry about her resenting him for it at this stage. Both DC need the clear message that this simply won't be tolerated, regardless of who is the rude one and who is the receiver. It would not be tolerated at school/elsewhere, so why should it be at home?

I'm working on the assumption that you and any other adult family members are elaborately polite to one another and to all DC in order to make the point about how we treat each other.

However, it does sound like you've tried all this and are looking for someone with more experience. But I didn't want you to go unanswered!

Callisto Thu 13-Sep-12 12:12:46

I didn't get on with my older brother when I was younger - he thought I was a boring waste of space and could be really nasty. It has taken us years to have anything resembling a normal brother-sister relationship (though it has been difficult as we live away from each other and only see each other once a month or so) and we have only become really close since my DD was born 7 years ago.

My parents did not tolerate any nastiness from either of us. If DB started to bully me, or if I lashed out at him we would be immediately punished (sent to rooms usually, grounded as we got older). The result being that we rubbed along and didn't inflict permanent emotional damage on each other.

I understand that you love all your children equally, but it sounds as though your DS1 is bearing the brunt of this equality. I think you need to stamp down hard on your DD - she sounds an absolute nightmare tbh. Show zero tolerance for any behaviour like this, you have to stand up for your son. I also think that if this has been going on for years, your DS1's self-esteem will be more than dented and he will be wondering why you are not doing more to make his life tolerable.

schobe Thu 13-Sep-12 12:14:49

Btw my DH and his DB were like this growing up (albeit it was the older one not keen on the younger). They became very close in their later teens and have remained so, if that's any comfort. I know it doesn't always happen this way, but it can.

Callisto Thu 13-Sep-12 12:14:50

Also, if she is this much of a bully at home to a sibling that she should at least have respect for, what is she like away from your supervision with other children she doesn't like?

amillionyears Thu 13-Sep-12 12:22:21

I would not put up with it.
I would not allow one of my children to be bullied by another child.

I appreciate that you have done everything you can think of to stop this.

Do you have relations living nearby.
If you do,I would say to your DD,that unless she shows great determination to change her ways,she will have to start spending some time out of the house.

schobe Thu 13-Sep-12 12:22:42

Eek, yes what a thought. You could always say that if it continues you will have to speak to her teacher(s) to ensure she is being polite and inclusive at school with her peers.

May be a last resort but exposure to the outside world can be a powerful deterrent.

FredWorms Thu 13-Sep-12 14:29:05

I don't "put up" with it, I've tried everything, she has spent many hours in her room, which only serves to increase her resentment.

Schobe, good to hear about your DH, I can always hope!

mummyonvalium Thu 13-Sep-12 14:38:29

Is she jealous of him? To me it sounds like she resents him just for being there. What is the age difference between them? I ask this because my sister and I are very close in age and there were lots of problems growing up (and I mean lots).

I wonder if counselling for her would be helpful - for both of them. My parents never dealt with the problems between my sister and I and to say it has had long-lasting effects is an understatement.

saadia Thu 13-Sep-12 14:47:47

So sad for your ds. I think in this situation I would be tempted to not just punish dd but also lavish attention on ds. For example if he says something and she is rude ignore her comment and take a great interest in what he is saying to show him that his views are valuable and does not deserve to be treated so badly and that dd 's opinion in this matter is insignificant.

Also I don't think you should say that she doesn't have to like him.

amillionyears Thu 13-Sep-12 14:59:45

Do you think there was a specific starting point for this?

JennerOSity Thu 13-Sep-12 15:06:34

Hard to know what to suggest, I was on the receiving end of a lifetime of hate from my sister and it affects me to this day, my parents mostly brushed it under the carpet - which you are not doing thankfully. However I can say growing up as a child being bullied daily in your own home is no joke and I would take it very seriously and give it serious consequences. Sending to room seems a minor punishment to me.

I would have a good sit down and explain exactly what you don't like about what she does and what you want her to do instead and if she can't do it then exactly what she can expect. Remind her that you would defend her from similar in exactly the same way.

Hullygully Thu 13-Sep-12 15:11:43

My dc have a similar age gap and my dd was unpleasant to him for a few years. She wasn't rude, but she showed absolutley no interest and was dismissive of him. He and I would talk about it and roll our eyes at each other when she did it, and she would also be spoken to by me about her behaviour.

She is much better now (I have no idea why! but am so grateful), but what did help him was me acknowledging how she was and assuring him it was her problem not his.

MamaGeekChic Thu 13-Sep-12 15:22:45

Sounds like a horrendous environment for your son to grow up in, I'd imagine he'll have his spirit knocked out of him. While I appreciate you love both of them equally, it's in both their best interests for you to take a hard line on this. She's old enough to sit down and have a conversation with, I'd suggest you discuss it with her 1:1 and lay out what the consequences will be if it continues beyond that point. They need to be much more significant than being sent to her room. Then you need to follow through with them.

MumOfTheMoos Thu 13-Sep-12 22:14:04

Like JennerOSity I was bullied by my sister as a child and as a result I have seen her once in thelast 13 years, now that I get to choose whether I see her or not.

It is horrible being bullied in your own home.

I would get some family counselling - whether it works or not it at least let's everyone in the family know that bullying is not something that can be normalised.

I wish my mum had done something more proactive.

laptopcomputer Thu 13-Sep-12 22:19:44

Just to add that my (older) sister treated me like this too, and my mother did nothing to stop her, which I can never forgive either of them for. My Grandmother was the only one who stood up to her and called her on it

ScariestFairyByFar Thu 13-Sep-12 22:29:27

Your OP could have been written about my relationship with my sister, at least your noticing it so can hopefully sort it, my mother did nothing and I still carry the scars. Get help for both your children; put sanctions in place for your daughters behaviour and build up your son try and spend 1:1 time with him.

ScariestFairyByFar Thu 13-Sep-12 22:32:20

I posted without reading all the other posts just seen all the similar stories we really need an I survived life with an evil sibling section!

amillionyears Thu 13-Sep-12 22:42:58

This thread and my post has been bugging me all day.
Ive come back to it 10 times and gone away again.
I didnt realise I had been harsh,but it may have come across that way to the op.
I think what bugged me was that you said "it had gone on and off for several years,yes years".
I said "I would not put up with it", meaning in the past,and in the future.
But you have tried various things,and are now asking for help as to what to do further.I suppose I think the situation perhaps should have been sorted out quicker.But I am not you,and you have clearly tried various things.
And yes ,you need ideas for the future.
And that is what you are asking for,so good for you.

As well as what has been said by me and others,
I wouldnt let her speak to him unless it is nice.If she cant or wont do it,she cant speak to him.
Do you think she has issues of her own?
Does she get on with everybody else in her life except her older brother?

FredWorms Fri 14-Sep-12 13:41:13

Thanks all, a few questions to answer; I don't think she behaves this way towards anyone else.

I'm not sure exactly when it started, or why, but it's interesting that her brother was very hard work until he turned about 10. (Lots of tantrums going on for ages, overbearing, demanding all our attention). Throughout this time she was an absolute sweetie. Then DS developed into this gentle, loving, more patient boy and it's as though now he's become the "good one" and she's adopted the role as the baddie. (I should add here that we're not in the business of labelling them or assigning them roles).

OK, a couple have suggested being sent to her room isn't harsh enough, can you suggest what sanctions you would/do impose?

amillionyears Fri 14-Sep-12 13:59:31

There is a bit of a chance that this will pass in that case.
I have several children.Once one had been doing something wrong for a long time,another would have been doing it but less.Once I got the first child to stop,the other one would get worse,and then stop as well.No idea why they did that.

I would want to get to the bottom of this before taking specific actions. Some exploring questions I'd be thinking of:
1. why do you treat your brothers differently?
2. why don't you like your brother?
3. why do you think its ok to be horrible to someone you don't like?
4. how would you feel if someone was being horrible to you?
5. how do you think it makes your little brother/the rest of the family feel when you're horrible/rude to your brother
6. if someones being horrible/rude to you do you think they should be punished or allowed to carry on?
7. what do you think is appropriate punishment for being horrible/rude?
8. what do you think of your behaviour to your brother?
9. what do you think you can do to improve the situation between you and your brother?

Essentially you need to get her to see her behaviour is bad and identify why she's doing it. This may take a while though! Then you can work on finding some solutions

ReallyTired Fri 14-Sep-12 14:31:59

I think these situations are far more complex than good child or bad child. This sort of behaviour happens in toxic families. Eleven year old children are not capable of that kind of level of evil. As a mother you need to take responsiblity for this mess and look at the standard of your parenting rather than making an 11 year old a scapegoat.

Do you think its possible that you have neglected your daughters emotional needs. I realise that you love all your children, but have all children had plenty of attention. It sounds to me as if she needs attention rather than being punished. How is she coping with school? Do you know who your daugher is feeling about life at the moment. Have you had time to show interest in her.

Often children behave badly because its the only way they can get attention. You say that your eldest was hard work until the age of ten and that you have a six year old. Maybe the eleven year old has had her emotional needs neglected.

Would it be possible to spend evening a week with each of your children giving them one to one time? It would help to reconnect and bond with all three of your children.

amillionyears do you honestly advocate kicking an ELEVEN year old child out of the house.

FredWorms Fri 14-Sep-12 14:32:49

She won't answer any "why" questions. I've tried talking many times under many different circumstances, but she just says "I don't know".

I might print off your questions Stuck and get her to give me written answers, she may find that easier. I suspect I shall get cheeky/sarcastic responses, but it's worth a try.

FredWorms Fri 14-Sep-12 14:37:39

Thankyou Really, I shall re-evaluate the "standard of my parenting" hmm.

I feel angry and indignant at your suggestion that I have made her a scapegoat.

Do you really think that I haven't considered that she may need attention? Of course I have, we have hours of closeness when I read to her and we do crafty stuff together. It doesn't seem to help.

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