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Sibling Rivalry - that old chestnut

(14 Posts)
GeorginaA Mon 18-Jul-05 20:03:04

Feeling a bit exasperated today ... PLEASE has any of the rest of you with two found any coping strategies?

Up until recently, they've got on really well (and, I hate to say it, I've even been a teensy bit on the smug side... I guess I'm having my comeuppance), and I'm not 100% sure what's changed except I think ds2 (14 months) is being a bit more cunning about winding ds1 (4 years) up.

Ds2 (because he's younger, and also harder to discipline) is getting away with far more than what ds1 is allowed to do. For example: hiting, biting, pulling hair etc... of course I would read the riot act to ds1 if he did that to his younger brother, but it's much harder with ds2 as a 14mth old has limited understanding, is too young for timeout, sticker charts, pasta jars etc. It feels an unfair balance but I'm not sure how to redress that unbalance.

On the flip side of the coin, ds1's whining (admittedly, he's ill at the moment so it's worse) is driving me COMPLETELY INSANE! How to get him to deal with things with his brother rather than involve me all the time?! Okay, now I know his arsenal is limited (see above) but he can move ds2 away from the tv and switch the tv on again just as well as me, can find an alternative toy for ds2 to play with etc, etc. He needs to learn some coping strategies for himself as well, doesn't he?! Of course, I'm prepared to intervene when it gets too much, but I don't think I'm doing him any favours by being a permanent referree, am I?

I've tried a bit of the divide and conquer strategy - if they can't play together nicely, then ds1 can play upstairs away from ds2 - but then it feels like ds1 is getting "punished" for ds2's misbehaviour - I can't, of course, at this age put ds2 somewhere on his own to play - he needs supervision.


kgc Mon 18-Jul-05 20:34:11

hi GeorginaA I have a similar problem with my dd1 and dd2 and it gets to the point of the dd1 getting bitten or my dd2 getting hit by dd1!!!!!! It all ends in tears and have to seperate and must admit is hard to cope with, I am just putting up with it at present and hoping they will grow out of it...sorry do not have a solution but hopefully nice to hear from others in similar situations

PrettyCandles Mon 18-Jul-05 20:47:56

IME 14m is old enough for timeout. When this happens to my two the offender - whichever one it is - gets sent out or put out of the room instantly and ignored for a short time while the other one is comforted. I always go to the offender afterwards and talk quietly with them, comfort them if they are gutted by the punishment. If it was the younger I just tell them quietly what I expect from them, with the elder I might discuss it a bit. It is important always to tell the child what they should do, as well as what they shouldn't do.

As for whining - it's strange how limited my understanding is I just don't understand that tone of voice, and I tell them so and ask them to use their proper voice.

I don't think you can expect a 4yo to cope with the younger switching the TV off. I praise my ds whenever he copes with dd's behaviour calmly - he's learning that if he can restrain himself and not rise to her provocation then that is a good thing. And when dd doesn't get a reaction from him then her provocations tend to dwindle away. But it really is very difficult for ds.

PrettyCandles Mon 18-Jul-05 20:51:20

And another thing, I ignore tale-telling completely. If ds insists on complaining to me or tale-bearing about dd I tell him that I'd rather hear about what he did. I never ask one what the other did, always what they themselves did, or I ask a general 'What's going on?' or 'What happened?'.

miggymum Mon 18-Jul-05 21:12:18

My 2 are constantly fighting and I feel like crying at times it is so frustrating!!!! DS (3) is the main offender. He seems to take great pleasure in winding his big sister up from standing in front of the TV when she's watching something to jump on her and physically hurting her!!!! I try to explain that he does this to her because he wants her attention but this seems to make her more determined not to play with him. I put him out on the naughty step but he does it again and again!!! Sometimes I've noticed that DD screams even when he hasn't even hurt her just annoyed her and the screaming really gets to me!!!! Sorry to moan on but just to let you know are not alone Georgina.

GeorginaA Mon 18-Jul-05 21:55:18

D'you think a 14mth old can understand time out then?

I caught myself thinking earlier that I'd probably been too harsh on ds1 at a similar age, but obviously I'm now too lenient Half the problem as well is knowing who was in the "wrong" with two... (for example, okay if you've just seen the eldest lash out, but you might not have seen the younger pulling the elder's hair for the past ten minutes) - I never know if I'm doing the right thing.

I've got the siblings without rivalry book, but feel that is aimed at older children when both are verbal - and is just another source of guilt about how "wrong" I'm dealing with all this.

It is really helpful to know I'm not alone in this. Ended up snapping today and yelling at both boys AND dh, so really not proud of myself. Also, not looking forward to the summer holidays where I think the whole situation is going to get magnified tenfold.

Some good tips, PC. Will try them out.

madrush Mon 18-Jul-05 21:59:16

I've only got one child, so don't know from experience, but slightly out of date advice from my mother - when I was a toddler my big sis (similar age gap to yours) used to get into my playpen to stay out of way and play in peace. Play pens aren't quite so fashionable these days, but can you create a "space" that DS1 can come and go from and enjoy but that DS2 can't get into? Can DS1 play in your bedroom or somewhere else that's a bit special?

Prufrock Tue 19-Jul-05 20:18:35

Oooh - so I should stop feeling smug about the fact my two are getting on reasonably well then and just wait for it all to go wrong?

I was thinking about this. My dd is very loving towards her younger brother and I encourage cuddles/kisses whenever possible. DS is not so loving, and is starting to try to push her away when we are having three way cuddles, but I just put him down when that happens- hopefully he'll get the message soon. He also smacks dd (playfully rather than with real intent to hurt I think) but I have managed to convince her that this is his way of saying he loves her (gullible my daughter ) so she responds by gently patting him back!
TV turning off I manage by moving ds to furthest corner of the room, and sort of involving dd in the adult world with me by telling her how silly ds is being, because he's not clever enough to leave the TV on yet - same strategy for knocking down towers, throwing toys etc - she has adopted a rather condescending tone towards him ("No <<ds>>, I have already told you that is very silly, I will show you how to play properly" was a recent comment) but I prefer that to aggressive. I also leave playing with the toys most likely to cause issues (in our case train sets - he sits on track, and crayons - he eats them) to his sleep times. DD knows the toys in question and has invariably got one out when I come down from putting ds for his nap.

Hope soem of that might help - if you were already doing that and ds2 suddenly just got old enough to be annoying please don't tell me - let me think I've got the sibling rivalry thing sussed for a few days longer

kgc Wed 20-Jul-05 01:35:22

GeorginaA...there will be good days and bad days....believe me...had worst day of my life with my four today especially dd1 and living nightmare wanted the ground to open up and swallow me ..two in the trolley and two running around everywhere.... GIVE ME STRENGTH.....but I will survive and hopefully go on to the next day and live it all over again!!!

PrettyCandles Wed 20-Jul-05 14:17:59

Please don't think I'm a model mum - not at all! I also have hideous days when I shriek and lose it. There have been occasions when I have simply stood in the corridor holding the walls and repeating over and over to myself "I will not hit my child" until I got a better grip on myself.

You can't always know who started it, and I think it can be counterproductive to try and find out. After all, life isn't always fair, and a lot of getting on with people is about letting things pass. Besides, if you interrogate the children they will learn that they can push your buttons that way.

What Miggymum relates reminds me of my brother and me - we used to wind each other up dreadfully, he did it to get attention from my parents (I think so anyway) and I did it in revenge, which I now see was futile. But I also used to let rip with the screams before he hit me - I'd get in trouble with my parents for screaming, but that was better than db's chinese burns and other brotherly tortures.

I think 14m is young enough to do time out, because he is learning cause and effect - he knows that switching the TV off gets an interesting result! So, if you are consistent and keep the timeouts short and sharp, he will learn that certain actions lead to him being left out and cold-shouldered, however briefly.

The older one does need some special attention. When a second child arrives the first has to do some fast growing-up, and I think we often demand too much of them because we've been able to lavish so much attention on them in the preceding years. Anything good or positive that he does should be praised, and rewarded with plenty of attention.

Ds has 'his' drawer, where he keeps toys that are precious to him (when dd was tiny he also kept toys that she might damage in there).

GeorginaA Fri 22-Jul-05 11:43:12

Thank you again - I've been making a big effort to try and remove ds2 and be stricter on him - still need to find somewhere that's "safe" for a time out for him yet - could use his cot but I don't really want him to associate that with being told off! Need to have a clearout of the hallway really so I can utilize that bottom step!

I've also had a look around a day nursery today - with the intention of ds2 going one day a week. During the holidays it will give a few days with just me and ds1, and during term time it'll give us a couple of hours after school one day a week. Am hoping the extra time on his own may help a lot with the behaviour. Was quite excited when I decided this and worked out the finances to afford it, but now I've signed up for it I feel a bit wobbly and unsure I'm doing the right thing. Can't win really!

GeorginaA Fri 22-Jul-05 11:44:31

Oh forgot to say that I'm also involving ds1 more in my "plotting", lol. And it does seem to be helping, thanks Prufrock.

PrettyCandles Fri 22-Jul-05 14:53:06

You don't need to have a special time-out room or place. Sometimes I will just take the child and seat them behind me (or to one side if I feel I need to keep an eye on them without being too obvious) with their backs to the action. It's the being taken away from the interesting place or thing, and having your attention withdrawn from them that does the trick.

Hope things ease up a little for you soon. On the one hand, the summer hols may make it a little easier because of not having to do the school runs, but OTOH of course, you'll have them both all day! So the nursery seems an excellent idea.

AnnieSG Mon 25-Jul-05 13:40:19

GoerginaA, sympathies. Or empathies. or something, because mine are dong this too. They're six and two and things kick off within minutes of them sharing a space. The only positive thing I can say is that a few times lately, they've played quite nicely together (albeit for about 45 seconds . I always make a big thing of this and congratulate them. Was wondering about rewarding the elder via the famous pasta jar system...but not sure this is something that should be rewarded. Anyway, you're really not alone.

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