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Do all siblings argue?

(24 Posts)
Keepsmiling1 Thu 15-Mar-18 17:01:51


I will start by saying I am an only child so don't really have any first hand experience of brothers and sisters!

I have 2 DDs - one is almost 3 and the other is 6.5 years. At the moment it feels like they are constantly fighting! DD1 has always been quite quiet and a real rule follower whereas DD2 is more independent and strong willed. Don't get me wrong DD1 has her moments and she can be quite sneaky sometimes - pulling faces at her sister to annoy her or taking a toy off her. DD2 tends to react by shouting at her and sometimes pushing her. I don't really know what to do or if this is normal with siblings?

We did all the normal things to help DD1 get used to DD2 when she was born but she just doesn't seem to like her that much! She says that she annoys her all the time and quite often says that she wishes it was just me, her and her dad again because she used to get all the attention and now she has to share it with her sister. DD2 loves her sister and follows her round (which I realise can be annoying!) and generally wants to be wherever DD1 is. I don't know if I should be disciplining every time one of them does something or if I should let some things go. I think if I pulled them both up every time one of them did/said something it would be all I was doing! But on the other hand I don't want them to think they can get away with being mean to each other.

They do have some lovely moments where they are kind to each other and DD1 is very defensive of her sister to other people but honestly more often than not they aren't nice to each other. My friends who have got 2 children say how lovely they are with other and play together all the time so I feel like I'm doing something wrong.

Does any of this sound normal? Can anyone offer any advice on encouraging DD1 to be kind/patient with her sister? I always imagined they would love playing with each other and it would be me against them but it doesn't really seem to be like that!

Sorry this has taken so long!

Metalhead Thu 15-Mar-18 17:59:21

I think for every sibling pair who get on really well and love playing together you get another who fight and argue all the time! Best example is DH and I: he fondly remembers his childhood playing with his brother, whereas all I can remember from mine is fighting (although I’m sure there were times we played nicely too).

My two are 7 and 2, and while they play nicely a lot of the time they also annoy and wind each other up. I sometimes let them sort it out between themselves and only intervene if it gets out of hand.

I don’t think it necessarily means anything in terms of how close they will be later on in life though, if that’s any consolation.

geekymommy Thu 15-Mar-18 20:03:33

I think they do.

It might help to explain to DD1 that DD2 is not following her around to annoy her, but is doing it because that's what younger siblings do. DD2 is learning to be a kid from DD1.

We have DD who is 5.5 and DS who is 2.5.

I feel sometimes like my job is being the referee.

We give an immediate time-out for hitting or pushing for any reason. We don't tolerate physical violence.

We use the timer technique to stop the kids taking toys from each other. If one of them is playing with a toy, the other can ask for a timer for it. We use the timers on our phones. You set the timer for two minutes (or whatever length of time you want, but two minutes seems to work pretty well). When the timer goes off, the second child gets the toy. This works so well that the kid who has the toy often gives it to the other before the timer goes off. We learned this from DS's preschool. It's like magic. I have no idea why this works so well, but it does.

Does DD1 have somewhere she can go to get away from DD2 when she needs to (and vice versa)? I remember needing to get away from my younger sister sometimes.

Aprilmightmemynewname Thu 15-Mar-18 20:09:24

Just remember sibling relationships - whatever the dynamics of the day - stand them in good stead for real life.
For example dd 12 is quite fragile where db is concerned and takes all things to heart - some meant to be and some not (think so!). She has just started secondary school and a boy threw an insult at her - prob would have cried at home - but instead threw one straight back at home and walked off!! I was so proud!! Ime as long as things don't get violent then no need to always step in.

Keepsmiling1 Thu 15-Mar-18 22:07:53

Thanks for all the replies.

I think the fact I know that it's not just my 2 girls makes me feel better. I like the timer idea for the toys - I will definitely try that. I do try to do time out for hitting but I think I have let it slip lately. It tends to be DD2 who hits or pushes but usually because DD1 has been winding her up/tormenting her. What do people do in that situation? When the elder child is purposely trying to wind the other up?

Aprilmightmemynewname Fri 16-Mar-18 10:26:39

Cure for aggravating behaviour in our house is an early night resulting in the loss of a TV programme. Works well on dd's!!

Steeley113 Fri 16-Mar-18 10:33:41

I think all siblings bicker. I still do with my brothers and we’re in our 30s! Siblings can be really annoying. My boys are great some days, play so nicely and are very sweet then other days they’re hitting, snatching and generally being little arseholes to each other.

melisma Fri 16-Mar-18 10:34:17

I've found this book quite helpful with our three:
Siblings Without Rivalry: How to Help Your Children Live Together So You Can Live Too (How to Help Your Child) by Adele Faber ( 1999 ) Paperback

Liskee Fri 16-Mar-18 13:01:42

I'm the eldest of 4 children born over a 10 year span and can confirm that all siblings fight. Maybe not all the time, but they all have a row here and there.

I'm now the mum of 2 DS and low and behold spend lots of my day being the fight breaker upper. I love love love and will be stealing the timer technique @geekymommy. If it works, it might just revolutionise my life!

geekymommy Fri 16-Mar-18 13:09:15

Learning to deal with being goaded without lashing out physically is a necessary life skill. DD2 will need to learn how to do that.

After a pushing incident (perhaps during DD2's time-out?) you could talk to DD1 about what she was doing to provoke DD2, and why that behaviour isn't acceptable. DD2 was not justified in pushing DD1, but that doesn't mean DD1's behaviour was acceptable.

You may also want to talk to DD1 sometime about how impulse control is something people learn, and very young kids take time to learn it.

Why is DD1 winding up DD2? That might be worth looking into, as well.

drivinmecrazy Fri 16-Mar-18 13:21:50

My 2 DDs are hilarious when they argue and fight. The best one I remember is when DD1 was 10 and DD2 was 5, they spent the entire day arguing which one of them should get themselves adopted.
They are now 17 and 12. While they rarely admit it they love each other dearly, though they are both more than capable of using their language and humour to cut the other to the core.

kittensinmydinner1 Fri 16-Mar-18 16:37:23

I apologise for the smugness of this post. But I have to post and say that my three have never bickered, shouted, fought or even had a mild falling out.
So no. It doesn't happen with all siblings and yes, I know how unusual and extremely lucky I am. I also hasten to add that they are all incredibly normal- don't belong to some weird non-bickering cult. They all have the normal falling in: outs with peers. But for some reason has never happened at home. It's nothing I've done. Just luck and I think maybe something to do with their ordering. DD1 then 18month gap for DS1 followed by 4.5yr gap for DD2.
All in teens and twenties now and still really kind and chilled to each other.
In case you want to throw knives at me. I can make you all happy to say that their is always a punishment for smugness... my DSC fight like cat and dog. Kicking punching and deliberate unkindness. Which I find hard to cope with or understand as I've no experience of it and not my place to police it...

The only light in the horizon is that they should of grown out of it by the time they're 50 !
13-21 nowhmm

geekymommy Fri 16-Mar-18 17:21:16

My kids may have taken to the timer technique so quickly because the younger one was already using it at preschool. I'm not sure how long it took to get them to go along with it at preschool.

nooka Fri 16-Mar-18 18:01:28

I think most siblings fight at least to some extent. How much depends on many factors, the age gap, sex differences, family circumstances and probably most of all personalities. My two are only 16 months apart and I think that helped us lots because a) ds can't remember life before dd, and b) they are very similar in size so we've never had to worry about the older one bullying the younger one (in fact dd was bigger than ds for ages). Watching my sisters children and other families I've observed that bigger gaps and same sex siblings seem associated with more rivalry in younger children, but all families are different of course.

I tried to be as neutral as possible in their disputes, intervene only when things were really getting out of hand and put in place consequences for both of them most of the time. One thing that can be interesting is to try and observe them where they can't see you so you can see the dynamics at play. We thought ds was the 'bad' one before watching them play and seeing dd take his toys, thump him and then start to cry herself. This was when they were both tiny and I don't think there was any malice to it, just toddler frustrations I think, but it made us relook at their dynamics and stop assuming ds was automatically in the wrong because he was older which is I think really easy to do.

geekymommy Fri 16-Mar-18 19:20:24

You WANT them to argue or at least disagree, to some degree. Resolving disagreements and working out ways to share resources with others are skills that everybody needs later on in life. Siblings are a good place to develop and practice those skills.

Siblings may or may not be people who would choose to be friends. Learning to get along with siblings who aren't people you'd choose as friends is good practice for getting along with people who you wouldn't particularly want as friends, such as classmates, roommates, or co-workers.

Puppies, kittens, and baby animals of other species seem to play-fight. You should Google this, because there are videos online, and they're adorable. Sibling fighting doesn't seem to be unique to humans.

Keepsmiling1 Fri 16-Mar-18 19:53:06

Thank you so much for all the replies!

They have actually been really nice to each other at times today! DD1 built an obstacle course as a surprise for DD2 (trashing the living room in the process but it was for a good cause!) without being asked and then played with her. She also gave her a big kiss before bedtime and is trying to encourage her to use the potty! I think sometimes I forget they do have their moments especially after a long week of bickering!

I will definitely take on board everything everyone has said. I think maybe I do expect too much from DD1 as she still is only 6 and need to make sure I am always punishing DD2 when she pushes so that DD1 sees I'm being fair.

Thanks again!

EmpressOfJurisfiction Fri 16-Mar-18 20:00:16

If it helps, my younger sister & I have a similar age gap & when we were kids I mainly saw her as an inconvenience...

BUT we started getting on better around the time I left for university & we're incredibly close now. I think we just needed to grow up and no longer be sharing a house.

SeaToSki Fri 16-Mar-18 20:18:38

Mine go through phases. Some weeks I call them The Bickersons and some weeks they get on really well. I have a hard line on being physical with each other, and then most other stuff I let them sort out. If they are whining to me about the mean sibling, I usually try and walk them through what happened from start to finish. Which usually involves a lot of what happened before that and why do you think he did that type of questions. Then I offer to get involved, but my help comes with a price... if they dont both accept my solution they have to....
clean the playroom, load the dishwasher etc. sometimes they want the help and sometimes they look horrified and run off banded together in opposition to a mean mother.

Quartz2208 Fri 16-Mar-18 20:21:48

I think expecting any two people who are around each other a lot (mornings/evenings/weekends) constantly without a break not to have any type of falling out/bicker/arguing is rare. In fact I only know one set who dont and like they mother they are both so laid back its unreal. Indeed can be seen as been slight pushovers actually as they have never had to fight their corner.

As long as there is genuine love between them its fine. My two love each other and would back each other up always but they can bicker!

Stormyisland Sat 17-Mar-18 10:52:02

Seatoski I'll definitely have to try the way you deal with arguments, sounds really good.

My three (fierce dd7, calm but devious ds4 and lively ds2) all fight so much. It feels like there is always either moaning, bickering, pulling faces or physical fighting going on in the house and I've had enough. I think like someone said earlier it's down to so many different things.. personalities, parents personalities and family dynamics. I think our family dynamics definitely need some readjusting but it's so hard to see yourself what it is that's going wrong... That's why I think it would be so helpful to hear what goes on in the houses where there's hardly any fighting...

Kittensinmydinner what do you think is the secret behind the peace in your house? Do you and your husband argue? Or how do you solve disagreements and do the kids see it? When your kids were little can you remember how you solved toy snatching etc?

KimmySchmidt1 Sat 17-Mar-18 18:21:25

You do have to continually work at creating an environment where children like each other: there are lots of ways parents can unconsciously create competition between siblings or exploit their insecurities.

Make sure you do not reward competitive behaviour, prefer one over the other, demonise the eldest or give them reason to resent each other.

They need to be taught to recognise and celebrate their differences, and be sure to name their feelings if they are jealous and say it’s alright but help them to get over it.

Ignoring it or pretending it’s Normal will Just foster it to grow. My mum always used to say hat use would hate herself if my sister and I grew up to not get along - I think that sort of talk really helps to set the tone for children about what the point of it all is.

beclev24 Sun 18-Mar-18 02:43:40

ugh ours have just started fighting and it's awful (DS7 and DS4 plus a baby)- they used to mainly get along, but in the last few weeks they have been absolutely at each others' throats, including physical fighting to the point where we can barely leave the room without one of them getting hurt. It;'s horrendous. We think it might have something to do with the new baby- they both love him, but are competing with each other for a limited amount of attention. I really really hope it gets better soon as it's horrendous!

Btw, I found the book Playful Parenting by Lawrence Cohen really helpful on this...

SadieHH Sun 18-Mar-18 03:17:58

Mine (girls, 10 and 6) fight like cat and dog, constantly and have done for years. I can’t leave them alone for more than a minute without one of them coming to me crying and often with an injury. No amount of time out, confiscating stuff, whatever, makes a difference at all. It’s utterly exhausting and often upsetting.

And yet underneath they are close. If they’re apart one will always want to get the other something at the shop, make sure they haven’t missed out on a treat, have something stored up to tell them or a picture drawn for them or something. So I’m fairly optimistic for their relationship as they grow up but at the moment it’s horrible. I don’t know what to do with them.

anonymous2018 Sun 01-Apr-18 20:48:17

As a rule mine don’t. Two girls, 16 months apart. I’m very very lucky. They do get a bit snippy when they’re tired but with everyone, not just each other. I think it’s the age gap tbh.

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