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I was an only child - help me learn how to deal with my sons when they fight

(11 Posts)
RubberDuck Thu 09-Oct-08 10:42:12

I am going completely insane. We have a small house and if they fight then it just puts EVERYONE in a terrible mood.

Not having grown up with siblings, I find it really hard to instinctively know how to deal with it. I have the book Sibling Rivalry (by the How To Talk people) but it just doesn't seem to help.

My biggest struggle is to know how and when to intervene. And how to do it in a way that one child seems favoured over the other. My eldest in particular is becoming very manipulative and vindictive towards ds2 - will cut off his own nose if it will spite his younger brother. Ds2 is getting very good at responding physically to this and most mornings it just feels like I'm living in a battleground.

When I do intervene I try and send them to separate places but we have a small house and it's hard to separate them without one feeling more favoured than another - sent to their rooms, the walls are thin and they can carry on arguing and getting wound up. Send one upstairs then the one downstairs feels like their side has been vindicated as they're closer to mum or dad.

The heartbreaking thing is that, before this summer, they always got on really well together (they are 7 and 4) so all this animosity has taken me completely by surprise.

I know I need to be more consistent. I know they need to learn to deal with their own conflicts. I'd like some strategies to stay sane and them not to kill each other in the process.

Top tips?

TigerFeet Thu 09-Oct-08 10:51:56

Sorry Ducky I have no advice but sending a hug and a very large gin x

mumbee Thu 09-Oct-08 11:01:36

You are not alone in having to learn how to intervene I grew as the eldest of 4 and argued all the time with my siblings. Know I have 2 children and it took me a while to work out how to deal with their arguments.

My best strategy so far is to sit them on the stairs (which is open in to the lounge) and then make them face the wall so that they can not watch the TV or join in the family things going on in the lounge.

Dd is 9 and Ds is 7.5. We also live in a modern small house so difficult to escape the problems

Thinking about your problem always intervene when it gets physical punish that straight away but listen out during a non physical for when it is getting unacceptable what they are saying they need to argue but always with out physical made me think perhaps sit one in the bathroom on the floor and the other in the kitchen on the floor for the minutes that correspond to their ages. At the moment the youngest always sits at the bottom of the stairs because he comes of first unless I am upstairs then it is the other way over.

Whilst they are separated take a moment for your self and deal with them one at time.

Do either get to spend time alone in the house with just you? time to talk? Your 7 year old maybe facing some new experiences at school that he is not coping well with (has he gone up to y3 juniors) this can be challenging for him and he is acting out because of this change.

Hope this will help

edam Thu 09-Oct-08 11:08:28

My mother was an only who found it VERY hard to understand and deal with my sister and I fighting like the proverbial cat and dog.

She ended up deciding only to intervene if it was getting physical or really out of hand, and then not listening to 'she started it' or any of that nonsense. Would just tell both of us off and punish us equally.

Of course, we were both convinced the other one was at fault and we were being treated unfairly... but now as adults we admit we were pains in the bum.


RubberDuck Thu 09-Oct-08 11:20:53

Thank you TF: I appreciate the gin!

mumbee: I've been making a special effort to try and take them for a walk individually at the weekend, even if it's just for half an hour. They also get individual attention in the afternoon after school (for their homework though, which can be stressful in itself!)

Yes, ds1 has just started Y3 and ds2 just started reception. They're both really tired and that's got to exacerbate the situation. They had no such excuse in the summer though, so I suspect that ds2 has just got to the age where he is able to be a bit more forceful to get his own way, whereas before he'd willing play whatever his elder brother wanted!

edam: that's a good reminder, actually. Just because THEY think I'm being unfair, doesn't mean I'm doing the wrong thing. I'm never going to be popular however I respond!

RubberDuck Wed 29-Oct-08 16:12:05

An update on this, because I'm at my wits end and fighting back the tears.

We had some improvement but now it seems to be worse than ever and I have caught ds1 engaging in what (appears to me) bordering on bullying behaviour: muttering under his breath, constantly goading ds2, telling him he's horrible, he's mean that no-one likes him, that he's going to fight him, that he's going to hurt him. The real psychological bullying stuff - nothing physical (so far).

The second I discover him doing it I'm having a zero tolerance policy and sending him straight up to his room (if he can't participate nicely in family life, then he doesn't get to), but I'm worried about how many times I DON'T catch him at it and how this is damaging ds2.

I'm also now worried that maybe either HE is being bullied at school (although there are no other signs) and he is acting out the same on his brother OR he is also doing this to other kids at school. Either way, should I involve his teacher at this point? Have been having reports that he's extremely well behaved at school previously, so feels almost vindictive to involve them.

I am doing everything else by the book: they're both getting plenty of time by themselves with me. I'm giving lots of positive praise for good behaviour. I've re-read Siblings Without Rivalry to no avail!

Help me.

KerryMumchingOnEyeballs Wed 29-Oct-08 16:15:24

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

KerryMumchingOnEyeballs Wed 29-Oct-08 16:16:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

RubberDuck Wed 29-Oct-08 16:16:35

Hmm... I think I'd need to put a catflap in the door to push food through ... <weak smile emoticon>

KerryMumchingOnEyeballs Wed 29-Oct-08 16:18:42

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

RubberDuck Wed 29-Oct-08 16:20:08

Any tips when one is bullying the other (and I was listening to the whole thing, not just one sibling twisting reality to make himself look better)?

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