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Sibling Rivalry...Help!

(7 Posts)
Tillytoes14 Sat 30-May-15 20:33:07

Hi,
I have two son's 9 and 4, lately things have been spiralling out of control, to the point I think we need help. They argue over everything, shout, take things from each other, sometimes things end up physical and I really can't cope with how things are anymore. The main problem we have is my oldest son doesn't deal with things the right way, he will take things without asking, if his younger brother is doing something he doesn't agree with, (which most of the time it doesn't affect him at all), he will take things from him without asking, shout at him or use his hands inappropriately to deal with the situation, we try and help them deal with conflicts, but it happens again and again, also I can't physically keep intervening, as it's really becoming exhausting. My dad had both of my son's the other day and they behaved this way with him too, which is unfair on my dad, who is a lot older and has less energy. Does anyone have rules in their house for siblings and consequences for when they're broken?

Thanks in advance!

Andro Sat 30-May-15 21:05:01

Our unwritten rule is leave parenting to mama and papa.

There is an expectation that 'if it doesn't affect you, stay out of it unless the situation is dangerous'. We put more emphasis on discussion and explanation to teach correct responses than giving consequences for poor choices made in good faith, there are consequences for 'naughty' or severely inappropriate responses (consequences are child dependent, sanction for one of them would be reward for the other).

A small point, are you sure that your ds isn't being affected by at least some of the things he's reacting to? What can seem inconsequential to one person can be utterly infuriating for another, it might be worth a chat away from younger brother.

Tillytoes14 Sat 30-May-15 21:37:39

Thanks for your reply Andro. It is mainly my oldest son who provokes a reaction from his younger brother, his younger brother can be playing independently and my oldest son will come along and just take something that is part of his game, just for a reaction from his younger brother. Another thing could be that his brother is clicking one of the seat belt clips in the car (not any of their clips, just the spare) and my oldest son will shout at him to stop, I've explained to my older son, it's not affecting him in anyway so just ignore it, my son doesn't and resorts to shouting at him and pulling his hand away from the clip as a means of stopping him, which is not how I want him to be dealing with things, also I believe he's a lot older and should start to learn how to deal with these situations by not using his hands and shouting, as a means of dealing with conflict, he lacks communication. My oldest son won't talk to his brother when any sort of conflict arises, it always resorts to shouting and using hands inappropriately, even though we've spoken to them both and told them how to deal with these conflicts when they happen. I feel if I don't intervene then my younger son ends up getting bullied by his older brother, which is not fair and it's not something he should tolerate. I don't know whether to have rules established such as keeping hands to themselves and not shouting, then separating them until they are both calm and ready to talk, or an earlier bedtime.

Andro Sat 30-May-15 22:07:55

You seem to have 2 issues, the reaction hunting needs a consequence of some kind, its unfair and could easily escalate. My son would find himself 'practicing' how to interact (under parental supervision), my daughter would be removed to another room (without toys or books or music) to think about her behaviour and why it wasn't appropriate.

The second issue is the seat belt, this is a classic example of what I meant by it seeming inconsequential to you but maybe not to your eldest. The repetitive clicking would have me stopping the car and shouting, it would reach a point where it became actively painful for me. In this case, if you're not telling your youngest to stop, I really don't blame your eldest for shouting - I really think you need to pre-empt him on this one and make it clear that the clicking needs to stop.

Snatching/smacking/hitting of any kind are unacceptable and the rules need to be understood and clear consequences in place. Conflict resolution is a skill which can take a long time to develop and a lot of children have trouble thinking before acting, you may also find that he is better at school than at home...totally normal! Separate and discuss when calm is a good plan. I also find with mine that it's easy for my expectations of my eldest to become skewed, he's 4 years older and is so much bigger than his sister that I sometimes expect too much and thinkn of him as being older than he is.

Tillytoes14 Sat 30-May-15 22:26:18

We used to remove privileges from our children during conflict, but this seemed to make the situation a lot worse and my oldest son became very resentful towards his brother and myself, often accusing me of loving his brother more etc. Also it seemed very difficult for us to determine who provoked who and who started it and often I think it appeared that we took sides, which is what led to the resentment. So I think a short separation between the two would be better, that again though is difficult as it's expecting one to remove themselves from the room and again may seem we are taking sides. Another conflict is fighting over toys and who sits where, this is becoming another problem and one we can't seem to tackle!

Andro Sat 30-May-15 23:29:31

You don't remove one then, you send both to a different location - their bedrooms/one to bedroom one to the kitchen with you or where ever works. With both being told that its so everyone can calm down.

It is reasonable to have different expectations of them - there is a 5 year age gap - but it is also important for your eldest to see the privileges of age. So expecting a bit more patience, expecting him to try and communicate better (accepting that this takes time) and expecting him to start setting a bit more of an example are all fine. On the other hand letting him see that later bed times, more autonomy where possible some more grown up (ish) time with you/his friends are all privileges that his brother doesn't have.

Is the toy issue just that they want the same toys? Does the older one have a way of protecting his things if he wants to?

Who sits where arguments are a new one for me, my two both have preferred seats in the car/dining room/lounge/etc and the don't overlap. I'm afraid they'd be getting short shrift from me, designated seating in the car/at the table rotated weekly and any arguments in the lounge and they would both be asked to apologise or leave the room until they could be polite.

There's a book often recommended on here, siblings without rivalry, might give you some ideas as well.

lljkk Sun 31-May-15 15:03:07

Isn't it great when patient reasoning with them seems completely pointless (sympathies & cake ).

I separate a lot. I hover a lot. I praise when they play nicely. Mine are thick as thieves & can be as bad as each other.

My older one delights in attention; tonnes of punishment is far preferable to being ignored or shunned to another room so big DS will just keep annoying small DS if it's the best way to get attention. Young DS screams loudly but then goes right back to big DS laughing for more rough play and rivalry.

I have made them both sit on the floor (out of arm reach) and they have to keep talking until they come up with a solution (like where to sit). Exhausting but it's so boring that they actually learn eventually to avoid that particular squabble. We make them both sit out on the stairs when squabble happens because honestly they usually both made it happen. That builds their camaraderie & motivates them both to try to sort it out without fisticuffs next time. Mine like to act up when they KNOW I'm very busy with another chore & can't easily stop everything to just sit with them & keep their peace.

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