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I cannot stand the arguing ANY MORE. What the hell do I do?

(25 Posts)
PassTheTwiglets Tue 26-Jul-11 10:13:51

DD is 8, DS is 3. They argue and bicker ALL. THE. TIME. and it is ruining our lives. Every day one or more of us is in tears, I find myself shouting every day and it's making me and DH beyond miserable.

DD has a very negative opinion of DS and thinks he is having a go at her when he's not eg. if he said "I can jump really high!" she'd assume he meant "I can jump higher than you" so she'd snap back "SO?! I can jump high too!" which then turns into a full-blow arguement. He is very annoying too and is constantly teasing her but then she overreacts and it all escalates. She is always having a go at him and criticising him and I swear I'm not exaggerating when I say that I am called on to sort out arguments about 20-30 times a day. The only saving grace is that it's not physical (yet!) I know that all siblings argue but surely this much isn't normal... or is it? Whilst typing this email I have already been called out to 3 separate incidencts.

I've tried ignoring them and saying they have to sort it out themselves - after all, they have to learn conflict resolution at some point I've tried removing them to separate rooms, I've tried calmly explaining, I've tried yelling my head off (tried that a bit too much, tbh!) It is just doing my head in and I have no idea what to do now. Is there anything else I can do or do I just have to wait for it to pass? I am dreading that last option, as we are not a happy family at the moment and I can't bear the thought of another few years of it sad

notmyday Tue 26-Jul-11 11:38:47

Your post could have been written by me! I have two daughters, also aged 8 and 3, and sometimes I dread getting up in the morning because the bickering starts from first thing - who is going to sit where on the sofa, what is on telly etc. 3 yr old is quite bossy and shouts at 8 yr old who doesn't take it very well and shouts back and it all goes from there. I've tried everything you have and often resorted to just shutting myself in the bathroom and crying because I don't know how to deal with it!

So, I'm sympathising but can't offer much advice! To be honest I usually end up keeping them apart (or at least doing different activities in the same room) and let the older one watch telly upstairs 'as a treat' but really to reduce the arguing by having them in different rooms. I'm hoping it will get better as the 3 year old gets older and hopefully more reasonable. I guess the only other thing is that when they are playing nicely together (for about ten seconds!) I really praise them and offer a treat etc ...

Good luck... and I hope it helps to know you're not the only one.

peppapighastakenovermylife Tue 26-Jul-11 11:43:28

My older two are 5 and nearly 3 and seem to fight constantly - trying deliberately to wind each other up. We end up going out separately a lot of the time as they just cant seem to play nicely.

It doesnt help that both DH and myself are only children so have no idea what is 'normal' sibling fighting

Drives me nuts!

NoCarbsBeforeMarbs Tue 26-Jul-11 11:50:49

Loads of sympathy here too.

I have DD 12, and DS 4.
DS spends his days antagonising DD, who in turn spends the day squealing and generally being a Prima Donna.

Sorry no advice- have a horrible feeling we'll all just have to wait it out!

PassTheTwiglets Tue 26-Jul-11 12:13:25

Well at least it's not just me then smile It definitely does help to know we're not the only ones.

I do think I leave them to amuse themselves for too long and that's when they wind each other up. I wonder whether if we made an effort to do more things with them then it might help - but they're just so awful to be with so it's a bit of a vicious circle.

Good point about rewarding when they are being good, notmyday.

greencolorpack Tue 26-Jul-11 12:25:12

I don't intervene on arguments.

Have a Respect Day and declare that nobody is allowed to say anything negative. Have a game where everyone has to say good things about the person sitting to their left and go round in a circle doing that. Teach them, say it over and over until it's their philosophy too, "If you can't say something nice don't say anything at all." Make them learn to use their words to build each other up rather than tear down.

When my ds and dd fight badly, I tell my ds a long tale involving him being a grown up man with no friends, and he has a sister, and he phones her but she just puts the answering machine on because she hates her brother. I say, this could be your adult life, how does that sound? My son gets freaked out by the idea of being a friendless adult whose sister won't talk to him.

I guess I'm quite lucky with my children because their personalities mean they are close, much as I was with my sister. But children will do whatever they can get away with. If you've let them get away with living in a house where they are free to ridicule and put each other down and destroy each other's happiness then you reap what you sow. You have to nip that kind of behaviour in the bud.

Another thing I do is - don't take sides, don't intervene, you're not teaching them anything useful if they're helpless without you acting like the United Nations in their midst. I'm incredibly harsh and arbitrary and the children have to learn to work together to work around me. For instance - they get a toy, a gadget to play with. I say "Agree amongst yourselves how long each one has it." And then they do and they leave me alone (This is the main goal all along - LEAVE ME ALONE!) If one comes in whining "He/she had it longer! Not fair it's my turn!" I say to them, "You can't work this out between yourselves, give the gadget to mummy." They learn then either sort it out themselves or I will take it away. And I do, I just take stuff away, too bad if they whine about it.

Another thing I do is force them not to say "ME I WANT IT." I make them have long debates where they prefer each other. "No, it is your turn," "No really, it's your turn." And in doing this I hope they learn what I'm after which is for them to stop being selfish. Even if they are only playacting.

Expect them on a regular basis to be excellent towards each other, or there will be punishment. Good luck.

PassTheTwiglets Tue 26-Jul-11 13:43:24

greencolorpack, you have some great ideas there, thank you! I think intervening is necessary sometimes though - DS doesn't always understand what's going on and I need to explain it to him. Likewise, I feel they need admonishing when they have been nasty. As I said, I do ralise that they need to learn conflict resolution (I sometimes say "and what do you think would be the best way of solving it?" when they come to me) but you just have to intervene sometimes. Sometimes, just for my own sanity, I have to make it stop! If they were more evenly matched then I'd leave them to their own devices a bit more.

DS is too little to understand the idea of long-term consequences but I often say to DD that she might grow up never seeing her brother because they don't like each other and she does get upset at the idea but then it's all back to square one half an hour later.

GooseyLoosey Tue 26-Jul-11 13:49:27

Mine are 6 and 8. My policy with disputes (unless there is violence involved) is to say "I don't care what happened. You have until I count to 20 to reach a mutually satisfactory solution. If you do not, I will sort it out and assume that you are both to blame". My solutions usually involve both of them losing out (eg if they are arguing about the TV, no one watches it for the rest of the day or if over a toy - I get it for the day).

I also tell them that a solution in which the 8 year old always gets his way is not acceptable and the 6 year old has to explain why she is happy with it.

If I do this, they always reach a resolution. Not sure whether it would work with your age gap though.

flicktheswitch Tue 26-Jul-11 15:54:35

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

greencolorpack Tue 26-Jul-11 17:33:44

Thanks, mine are closer in age so I dont necessarily know exactly what its like and I often have the tearing hair out with stress moments.

ragged Tue 26-Jul-11 17:37:19

Drink more wine

Oh fig, I dunno, but I usually assume both sides could have fixed it without my input so I somewhat punish both sides if I have to get involved at all.

Violence means sitting on the stairs in silence (probably both sides again) until I'm satisfied they desperately regret it, & apologies issued (again probably on all sides).

ArthurPewty Tue 26-Jul-11 17:50:03

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

PassTheTwiglets Tue 26-Jul-11 18:14:55

I love the special responsibilities idea, flick!

Also love your drinking more wine idea, ragged but I don't think it's possible to drink more of it than I already do smile

ArthurPewty Tue 26-Jul-11 18:29:44

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Hassled Tue 26-Jul-11 18:36:04

I don't know if it helps to know this, but it is nothing to do with your parenting and everything to do with luck.

My oldest DCs hated each other pretty much from Day One - now they're adult and live in different cities they seem quite close. But the squabbles were relentless and I think the only way I coped was that eventually I just stopped caring so much. Or it just became normal to feel like the UN. And, as they got older, they spent less time in the same room. Walking away as much as you can is a good move, though.

But my younger (much younger, after a long gap) DCs have always got on really well and are upstairs playing happily now. I did nothing differently. It is bizarre.

PassTheTwiglets Tue 26-Jul-11 19:13:32

Thanks, Hassled!

greencolorpack Wed 27-Jul-11 17:49:40

LeonieDelt, could you try reverse psychology and tell them they're NOT ALLOWED to play together? It might then become something desirable.
Hassled, I guess there's an element of the child's own personality that nothing you can do will change so it pays to be fatalistic.

noteventhebestdrummer Wed 27-Jul-11 17:54:46

in the end it can be ok, DS3 and DS5 wound each other up terribly and now are such good friends despite a 10 year age gap, it just needs maturity to kick in from both sides and it DOES happen eventually!

TheOriginalFAB Wed 27-Jul-11 17:57:56

Lots of sympathy from me too.
My 6 year old has just been screaming at me and they have all been mean to each other this afternoon. They were at my in-laws and I only picked them up after lunch today and already I have a bad headache and my nose won't stop running. I need to sleep and it just isn't happening. I think I might run away this holiday.

muminthemiddle Thu 28-Jul-11 12:34:20

Some very good advice from Greencolour
I have never allowed my children to call each other stupid and they don't!
Make sure your children grow up in an environment where everyone's opinion is respected. Allow them to occasionally see that even parents can hold a difference of opinion but still get along.
A lot of children grow up in environments where only the biggest persons opinion is valid.
The other thing is that there is a big age gap between your children. Personally I think that an 8 year old girl does not want to play too often with a 3 year old boy.
Can you have a friend round for each of your dcs but perhaps on different days?
Then if say you have a friend around for your dd you can do something together with your ds, and vice versa.
You do have my sympathy as it is a total drain to hear arguing.

PassTheTwiglets Thu 28-Jul-11 13:10:37

DS doesn't have any of his own friends (he's only just started nursery) and whenever DD's friends are round, DS only wants to join in and wont' do anything with me!

I certainly don't allow my kids to behave like they do to each other - they always get punished or told off or calmly-talked to (whichever I feel is necessary at the time). Doesn't stop them doing it though...

greencolorpack Thu 28-Jul-11 22:55:47

Thankyou Muminthemiddle, that's cheered me right up.

Sparklyboots Thu 28-Jul-11 23:18:47

Have you read 'Siblings without Rivalry'? I haven't, but I have read the excellent 'How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk' by the same authors and thought very highly of it. I'm sure their siblings book would be useful. (Have just recommended this on another thread!)

PassTheTwiglets Fri 29-Jul-11 09:10:02

I haven't read that, no - will give it a go, thank you! I am actually in the middle of reading How To Talk...

emlu67 Fri 29-Jul-11 13:20:46

Mine are 7 and 4 and I have the same problem especially with the older one being very critical towards the younger one. I find threatening to take toys away if they do it again and separating them into different rooms helps and if they are really naughty putting them on separate naughty steps.

If it happens during mealtimes I tell them if they have nothing nice to say then don't say anything, if they carry on it is straight to the naughty step! You do have to be consistent and carry out threats and thankfully mine do take notice (albeit for the short term!)

Hope that helps!

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