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Come on all you MN amateur psychologists, pleeeeeeease help me sort out DD (professionals welcome).

(8 Posts)
cadelaide Tue 12-Aug-08 21:35:46

She's 7, DS1 is 9, DS2 is 2.

She seems to really hate DS1. She constantly undermines his confidence by ignoring him, sneering at him whenever he speaks, pretending she doesn't understand when he asks her a question, acting disgusted at mealtimes....oh, it just goes on and on. She's very subtle much of the time, and she often shocks me with her coldness. She's like a mini-teenager.

She has returned this evening after a 24hr break at Granny's. DS gave her some chocolate he'd bought for her, she said "thanks" in a very quiet monotone (that's another thing, she often talks to me in an "i don't care" monotone), and then proceeded to treat him like something she'd scraped off her shoe for the rest of the evening.

I've tried sending her to her room, doesn't seem to work. I've tried giving her extra attention (as I suspect it may be jealous-middle-child-syndrome) but nothing will make her change the way she treats him.

He said last night "You know Mum, I really do think she doesn't love me".

It's ruining the summer for us all. What can I do?

S1ur Wed 13-Aug-08 01:39:35

That sounds horrible for you and more particularly ds. Poor mite. sad I hope you can reassure him separately about people's odd behaviour not always meaning how they feel inside.

For dd. It sounds a bit like she is trying out a control experience. In that, she can be cool to ds and manipulate his feelings (and her own) and she can control how other people feel, which is powerful and impoertant skill. I would wonder a little if she had encountered this somewhere else, school? friends? People who made her feel belittled and she is reclaiming that feeling by putting it on poor ds.

Or maybe she is just practising some ways of behaving that are a little bit callous and unthinking and the easiest person to practise on is the smallest.

Any which way, talking to her about different ways you can hurt people including things like ignoring and snideness and dismissiveness is a good start. Even if she already knows this, it's a way of saying I've noticed what your doing and I don't like it and it isn't a great avenue to explore further.

Niecie Wed 13-Aug-08 01:56:47

Has she always been like this or is it a new thing? Has something happened to make her behave like this?

You could be right, it does sound like jealous middle child syndrome but it is interesting she has chosen her older brother to be jealous of rather than the newest addition to the family who you would think she would resent for taking over her role as baby of the family. How does she treat DS2? Does she have any time for him?

Alternatively, since she treats you the same way some of the time with the answering in monotone, it could be her age. It seems quite common for children of this age to start acting like mini-teenagers. My BIL and his wife had a hard time with their eldest when he was 8 - he was very mean to his little brother and anybody who got in his way. It turned out that it was the influence of some boys he had got mixed up with at school - he dropped the friends and his behaviour improved.

Do DS1 and your DD go to the same school? Could it be that somebody at school has said something to your DD about DS1 that has made her want to disown him, so to speak?

Have you tried asking her calmly, not when she has been horrible, why she is behaving this way. She probably won't be able to tell you but she might say something that gives you a clue what her problem is.

S1ur Wed 13-Aug-08 02:02:09

Sorry misread OP thought it was ds (2yrs) that was focus.

Makes a difference, will rethink later. Apologies. smile

Niecie Wed 13-Aug-08 02:41:07

Slur, I don't think what you said is that far off the mark regardless of which DS she is picking on.

Thinking about this some more, in your 3rd para I would swap 'smallest' for 'softest'

Cadelaide - Is DS1 a big softy, or easy target who doesn't fight back?

He sounds like a sweetheart by the way. smile

bigTillyMint Wed 13-Aug-08 08:03:11

Where do you think she got the idea for behaving / talking to him like this from? Children copy behaviour, including talk / tone of voice, etc, etc.

I'm sure no-one in your family would do it to each other, but maybe someone at school is doing it? Maybe another child is bullying her in this way?

kayjayel Wed 13-Aug-08 10:06:19

Poor you, it sounds awful for you to see, and so upsetting.

One tactic might be to switch your focus completely from the stuff thats worrying you, to spotting hope/ positives. Spend a week looking out for things that surprise you - no matter how small. If she ever looks at her brother with interest, or smiles, keep an eye out for it. Then spend ages trying to think about why that happened then, what was going on, why did she show signs of liking him, who else was there etc.

The worrying things stick in our head and we focus on them to try to solve problems, but sometimes this hides the positives, and gets in the way a bit. Also, if she at the moment is not having any positives with her brother, then adjust your expectations really low - she said thanks for the chocolate bar - you can either see that as not good enough (tone of voice wasn't good enough), or you could think about how much worse it could have been (why didn't she refuse it, not say thank you at all etc.). So actually you could see that as a positive.

If you spend a week looking out for stuff and collecting it up (you could write it down) then you might see some different things and feel differently next week? Also you can predict now how many 'positives' (no matter how tiny) do you expect to see this week - then test how many you actually get.

Obviously this isn't an explanation or solution, but its worth a try, and doesn't require you to do anything drastic.

cadelaide Thu 14-Aug-08 22:20:41

Thankyou, thankyou all, thought I'd been ignored!

What a lot of sense you all talk. I had a long chat with her this evening. It's not easy to get her to open up, she's very self-contained at the best of times and I think she's pretty unhappy at the moment.

Think I got somewhere though. She said when DS1 has his mates round she feels left out and "small", she's looking for respect (my words) and doesn't like being regarded as "annoying little sis" (who would?).

Also she feels powerless, I think. DS2 has reached the age where he's trashing her games (sylvanian families, playmobil, complicated layouts). We live in a small house, she can't easily get away from him and she knows she mustn't lash out at him, he's the baby. Also she adores him, so she's battling with complicated feelings and immense frustration. She's seeking power and control, understandably.

What carefully-thought-out responses from you all. Enormously helpful, thanks again.

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