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Should I allow my boys to hurt each other?

(8 Posts)
MerryMarigold Tue 25-Apr-17 10:18:35

I have told them till I am blue in the face that if they fight, someone will get hurt. They are separated/ have consequences every time they are physical. It still goes on. Last night, I was washing up and I could hear it starting up. Ds2 (8) annoys ds1 (11). Ds1 lashes out, ds2 responds. I would usually intervene at this point, but I'd had enough of it and thought: let's see if they can work this out themselves. It ended up with ds2 whacking ds1 with his crutches and ds1 standing on ds2's knee, which caused him a lot of pain. I went ballistic. I was really worried that ds2's nearly mended leg (7 weeks on) was re-broken. I was absolutely fuming with both of them. Neither of them stopped it. They both 'started it' (ds2 took ds1's new fidget spinner and wouldn't give it back - just to wind him up). They were both v v v upset. Ds2 because he was hurt (and little sympathy from me), and ds1 because he realised he had genuinely hurt his brother. They are now on an x box ban for 2 weeks. But I am still tempted to let them stop their own fights on their own. I think that as I keep intervening they don't know how to stop it themselves. No one takes responsibility for walking away.

In terms of ds1 'bullying' ds2 as he is older, actually ds2 is probably a bit stronger (bar the fracture) and certainly able to take care of himself. Ds1 is definitely more a victim type, bullied at school etc. The difficulty is that I do understand ds1's anger issues. Ds2 is very popular, G & T in sports/ English/ Maths (not that ds1 knows the extent of it, but he knows...). Ds1 struggles with everything - socially, academically, sports. It has got worse and worse since they attended the same school (past 2 years) as I think it's always in ds1's face plus ds2 deliberately winds him up. He just enjoys it which is cruel. However, ds1 does overreact (not helped by SATs in 2 weeks time, so the past couple of months have been worse) and pretty much ALWAYS react physically instead of verbally. I feel like I have tried everything and am now just left with the option of letting them get on with it until they get tired of getting hurt and learn to create their own boundaries/ sort it out themselves.

What should I do?

corythatwas Tue 25-Apr-17 10:34:16

Not sure it is necessarily true that they can't learn to stop fighting if you stop them. Surely there are plenty of things they don't do because you stopped them firmly in their tracks the first time they attempted it? (hitting adults, eating sweets off the supermarket shelf, smearing poo on the bathroom floor)

Why is this so different? To me it's just another piece of bad behaviour that needs to go.

Should add that fighting clamped down on every time is how I and my brothers were brought up, and how my dad was brought up- and we have none of us grown up unable to regulate our tempers.

Otoh my friend who did fail to stop hers fighting found after a while that invites around other kids' houses dried up because all the other boys found the constant punching boring and destructive.

Everywhere else they go- school, extra-curricular, eventually the workplace- they will find there is a zero tolerance on physical fighting. Other people don't want to have to put up with it. Seeing that you don't like it either, I think it makes perfect sense to be consistent. Just sit them down and tell them that from now on there is a zero tolerance to physical violence. Explain that they are getting big enough to do each other a serious injury, that a blow with crutches or a fall against something hard could actually kill one of them or leave them permanently disabled, that this is serious and has to stop NOW. Also point out how miserable and tedious their fighting is for everybody else in the house and say you are no longer prepared to put up with it.
And then be prepared to intervene every single time.

I remember at this age telling my own dd that "if you do that again, I will take your crutches from you and you will just have to get on without them". She was permanently disabled so this would have been a serious thing. But she still wasn't allowed to fight.

faithinthesound Tue 25-Apr-17 10:47:37

OP, if you know the cause of these fights is DS2 winding DS1 up (and you do know, because you mention it multiple times) then you need to nip DS2's behavior in the bud. I'm not condoning DS1's physical reactions, but I'm saying, if you eliminate the cause, the effect never has to come to pass.

Taking something that doesn't belong to him (the spinner) is punishable.
Being deliberately cruel (and you say yourself it's deliberate and that he enjoys it) is punishable.

If they were my children, I'd be telling DS2 that unfortunately he deserved exactly what he got, and perhaps he'd think twice before deliberately winding his brother up. Don't pick the fight if you can't take the heat.

The fracture is unfortunate, but it seems like DS1 is genuinely upset that he hurt his brother and is probably mentally punishing himself quite sufficiently. I'd have a word about "using our words", because violence is never the answer, but it seems to me that the root of the problem is DS2. Consequences.

CassandraAusten Tue 25-Apr-17 10:55:14

The thing that stood out to me from your post is DS1 getting bullied at school. Is this ongoing? If so, I think getting that stopped might help DS1's anger issues. Being bullied can make rage and resentment build up inside you until you lash out. Are the school addressing it?

I would also seriously consider sending them to different secondary schools so that DS1 is less aware that his brother is brighter than him.

In the short term, no I don't think you should let them hurt each other. Does separating them work? Make them go into separate rooms as soon as you here any fighting?

CassandraAusten Tue 25-Apr-17 10:55:47

*hear not here!

ChocChocPorridge Tue 25-Apr-17 11:03:12

I'm zero tolerance - the moment either of them starts they get separated and either one goes to their room, or whatever. Mine are 3 and 6, but they're both adept at winding each other up, or poking/sneaky elbows.

I don't pretend that it's ever just one of their's fault (I was the oldest, and got sick of being the one told they ultimately at fault), I realise that when they're hungry or tired they're going to be fractious (and I tell them that, but say that doesn't make it OK)

Also hate whining, so they get no extra sympathy points for that.

I sound harsh, but it really isn't. They need to learn now that it's never acceptable to hit, or to wind someone up for the fun of it and I'd prefer to take the hit of sorting that now rather than have to deal with it when they're big and can do even more damage.

MerryMarigold Tue 25-Apr-17 11:16:46

Yes, we do the separate rooms thing at the moment. Sadly, they share a room, but we are looking into dividing the master bedroom into 2 so they can have separate rooms as I hoped when we moved 2 years ago that it would help them be better friends, but actually seems to have made things worse or not helped anyway.

Also just to clarify ds2 did not get sympathy from me, even though he was genuinely quite hurt and knee was a bit swollen. Thankfully today it is fine. The fracture was a different injury from football, but I think it is ok as he can bear some weight on that leg today despite the knee incident. (He's still on crutches so not supposed to weight bear often, but doc said he could start). He has exactly the same punishment as ds1 which is no xbox for 2 weeks. I also never let him off just because he wasn't physical. He knows what he is doing, but on the other hand, ds1 can get irritated by things which are just ds2 being himself (eg. talking at breakfast!). Ds2 just gets right on ds1's nerves because he is jealous of him, so it isn't ALL ds2's fault.

Ds1's bullying has been 'dealt with' by school to some extent (school are aware), but it is more emotional now eg. he has one main friend who 'sometimes doesn't want to play' and when he went on his residential trip he sat alone on the coach on the way there and back. However, he hasn't mentioned being made fun of, just a bit sidelined and everyone is better friends with each other. I see him before school and his in the group but not part of it IYSWIM.

Next year ds1 will move on to secondary. He will have 3 years before ds2 joins him, so I am hoping by the time he is Y10 and ds1 is a baby y7 that the balance will be redressed somewhat. I am looking forward so much to ds1 having this 'break'.

Thanks for the advice. I hope last night gave them a jolt. I will continue to intervene then, tiresome as it is. I don't know why they think it is ok to do this. Ds1 does also occasionally hit me, but no punishment seems to be enough to stop him completely. I seriously thought about getting the police round last night to speak to them and give them a scare.

MerryMarigold Tue 25-Apr-17 11:19:52

Choc choc, we have been doing this for YEARS. It ramped up when ds2 started school though and started correcting ds1's spelling when he was in YR and ds1 was n Y3.

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