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How can you show love, support and understanding, and be a good parent for a child who keeps being nasty to sibling and show no love or understanding to his brother?

(41 Posts)
QuintessentialShadows Fri 11-Jul-08 23:38:12


My 6 year old appears to have neither love nor compassion for his 3 year old brother, it is wearing me down. I dont know what to do. It is getting to a point where I feel so angry and upset it is starting to eat up my love for him.

He was the apple of my eye, I loved him so much, I thought he was so fantastic. Not any more. He keeps putting his brother at risk. He is thoughtless around him, has no regard for him being little. He is so petty.

We just returned from a few days away with my cousin and her 4 1/2 year old dd. It was breaking my heart. My six year old would consipire with the girl to leave his brother out of play, even with games such as hide and seek etc they could all do together. It was going on and on. His brother would put his face in his hands and sob his heart out, and I ended up spending most of the time playing with him, as his brother wouldnt. Or I found something else for my 3 year old to do.

On one occasion he was playing with a ball, and it accidentally bounced and hit my 6 year old in the neck. My toddler apologised and hugged him. Later, when out of view from the adults, my 3 year old tried to cuddle his brother, and my 6 year old hit him in the neck.

My 6 year old was walking on the beach, and my 3 year old followed, looking at shells and stones, and then he needed help to get up on a rock, so he stretched out his hand, called for his brother to help, my 6 year old looked at him, and turned his back and walked away. My 3 year old sat down resigned and sobbed.

My 6 year old and the girl, kept asking my 3 year old to move away, go elsewhere, even when he was just happily playing with bucket and spade in the sand next to me. sad

After 4 days of witnessing my 6 year old repeatedly treat his brother with not just indifference, but contempt, I cannot even bring myself to look at him. My heart is breaking, I feel I have lost something.

I have tried encourage play together, I have tried talking to my six yer old about being nice and treat others the way YOU want to be treated, I have tried divert attention to other things for my 3 year old to play with as some times "big" children just want to play "their" game. But really, there was no activity that my 3 year old could not take part in, except badminton. But even that he did with me, using a smaller racket. He had no issue grasping the rules of Ludo, and we played the game happily, and memory game, and fishing games. Even if he can play all these games, my 6 year old and our 4 1/2 year old friend just wouldnt. My 3 yer old kept asking to play, and they just turned their backs.

My 3 year old adores his older brother, always asks for a treat for him, if I give him something, and he will carry it to him and give him. My 6 year old never does this. If I offer him a treat, he will hurry and eat it before 3 year old realizes and ask for more. (I always ensure they both get the same anyway, so 3 year old does not lose out). My 6 year old cannot STAND it if I buy something for 3 year old, even just a spade or a little plastic animal, and it doesnt matter if HE got a lego set the day before if 3 year old got nothing, he still kicks up a fuss.

If we are in the car and I point out a horse, he huffs and puffs if he did not see it, but 3 year old did see the horse. Equally, if his brother doesnt see the horse, but he did, he is jubilant, saying " Yippi! He did not see it! But I did."

It seems to me now that my 6 year old is a selfish and selfcentered little spoilt child who cant stand his little brother.

I am angry and upset, as I have always treated them both fairly, and with love and respect.

I cant make my 6 year old love his brother, but how can I protect my 3 year old from his brothers hurtful behaviour?

And how can I stop myself from starting to loathe my 6 year old in all this?

forgottenfreetime Sat 12-Jul-08 00:03:55

Oh gosh, how hard for you. I know that I felt crap when my ds (2) was biting his baby sister. It went on for months. I remember feeling so sad at his behaviour.
I'm not sure what you can do to help the situation, except massive big praises and rewards for kind, considerate behaviour towards his brother. I've thrown principles to the wind and shamelessly bribed and rewarded constantly, with sweets, chocolate and toys and magazines for anything even vaguely nice behaviour towards his sister. e.g. son picks up daughters bottle - "thank you what a kind boy here have a choc button" etc. It has had an effect, my son (now 3.5) definitley knows what I expect him to do now. At times tho he knows what to do to press my buttons also (eg hit sister whilst I was talking on the phone to get my attention. Take heart I read some research that said that there was no link between siblings close relationships in childhood and in later years - I put my faith in stuff like that!

Quadrophenia Sat 12-Jul-08 00:08:55

Right I need to tell you to stop worrying, honestly stop it now. he is showing the kind of contempt that siblings often have for eachother, it is completely normal and should not alter your feelings towards him. If you stop being forthright about their involvemnt with eachother it is highly likely that they will find their own common ground.

Amphibimum Sat 12-Jul-08 00:09:28

oh QS, i hope someone wise and calm comes on to give lots of constructive advice.
i am not she, im afraid.
but i wonder if the 'how to talk...' book might be any use here?

colditz Sat 12-Jul-08 00:12:11

He is 6, not 16. He doesn't love his brother as much as you do, he doesn't have the same drive to protect and care for him that you do, and to ask for that is asking too much. Remember, a three year old is tiny to you. When you are 6, a three year old is nearly eye level, and you think everyone thinks the same as you. You cannot comprehend how, if you don't want someone around, they still want to follow you.

6 year olds still believe in Father Christmas. I think you are expecting way, way to much rationality and empathy from a child who is still a very small child, and is in direct competition for your attention with another child who is getting a great deal of attention.

I'm sorry if I am being harsh - but your post touched a nerve with me. I was detested by my mother when I was 7 because I didn't want my brother around, a huge burden of guilt was put upon me for basically not having an adult level of empathy. I was informed daily that I was a selfish, nasty, spiteful little girl who didn't deserve a brother.

Well, I didn't ask for a brother, and neither did your 6 year old.

gemmiegoatlegs Sat 12-Jul-08 00:13:30

QS, I know it doesn't help, nbut ds 2 is so inclined to his brother as he has never known life without him. DS 1, on the other hand has had 3 years on his own before ds2 came along. And I do think its natural (however unfair) for 2 kids to gang up against the other one. I think you may see this less in years to come, but the gap between 3 and 6 is considerable. just keep reinforcing the correct behaviour to ds1 and it will come ....eventually

charliecat Sat 12-Jul-08 00:13:33

Oh I had a three year age gap but girls. I recognise a lot of your post, however my 6 year old was never nice enough to the 3 year old for her to expect a hand up on the rocks etc.
Mine got better after dd1 pushed dd2 down the stairs - All the way down the stairs, top to bottom. dd1 cryed her eyes out for the whole day, she was only little herself, but seemed to know she had gone one step Too Far.

This is probably not the wisest thing to do but I do say to dd1, whos now 10, things like, listen to the way you are talking to her, how would you feel if someone else was talking to you like that? etc etc, because nothing else I say or do seems to have any effect.

NOW, they wouldnt know what to do without each other. But it still rears sometimes.
And then I will put my back to dd1 shielding dd2 from her commentsangry

Psychomum5 Sat 12-Jul-08 00:16:51

keep loving both of them.

do not show favourites as it will make the competitiveness worse.

love them equally in front of each other.

if you have to tell one of them off, do it privatly and nowhere near the other child (so they cannot call it on each other IYGWIM)

pull them apart if things start up, and keep siting fairness.

it si bloody hard, and a long slog, but like others say, he did not ask to have his brother so try a give a little more slack.

FWIW, the 'baby' in our family is 6 next week, and he seems tiny. when DD1 was 6, she seemed massive. my perspective has changed.....and so my attitude!!!

edam Sat 12-Jul-08 00:19:15

I'm with Colditz - afraid you are expecting far too much from a 6yo.

Step back and remind yourself he is only six and he is NOT responsible for the 3yo. Stop judging him. He is an older brother, not a parent. He does not have an adult perspective, adult ability to empathise or any of the things you seem to expect.

You have to let them sort out their own relationship. As long as one of them isn't actively harming the other, leave them to sort out out their own battles. Interfering, even if you mean well, will only make things worse. (Obviously you should step in if either is upset etc. etc. etc. but don't get drawn in as if this is about you.)

Did you have any brothers or sisters? Can you remember what life was like when you were six?

QS Sat 12-Jul-08 00:19:35

Thanks for your messages.
Colditz, that is exactly what I want to avoid. (Sorry for what you had to endure) I want to be good parent to both. I WANT to love them both and handle it well.

My 6 year old has already "put" his brother in hospital. Once for pushing him so hard he injured his head really badly, and once for whacking him in the head with a minigolf club so he got three stitches. It did nothing to him. He was more concerned with whether we were angry with him (which we werent) than what he had done to his brother.

I dont know how I can leave them be when my youngest is sobbing his heart out, as he is realizing how he is pushed out.

BuckBuckMcFate Sat 12-Jul-08 00:22:55

It is horrible for you now there is no denying that.

I'm quite confident my mum could've said this about my behaviour towards my younger brother, I was sooo mean to him and he just adored me, no matter what I did or said to him.

But we are such good frineds now and we laugh about how horrible I was to him so please don't think this will cause long term damage to their relationship,

I wish I could offer some really good advice as to how to deal with this because I know from my own how wearing it is. The only thing I can think is to jump on any small thing that he does that is remotely nice to his brother (try to engineer the situation if possible) and big him up as much as you can. i've had to do it with DS2 and I feel like a right melon going on how great he is but he does respond to it and maybe if you could see just a bit of that from DS1 it would help you feel more confident about the futute

QS Sat 12-Jul-08 00:23:07

I only "get drawn in" if they get hurt or crying.

I do realize the 6 year old is not a parent. And I am not asking him to babysit his brother, I am just expecting him to either play with him if it is a suitable game, or let him play on his own without being asked to get lost for just "being there".

colditz Sat 12-Jul-08 00:24:25

Well, his feelings mean more to him than his brother's, and you are setting him up for failure if you expect this to change much before he reaches adulthood. Obviously it's not good to hit your brother, but the age of criminal responsibility is 10 for a good reason, and ours is the lowest age in Europe. It is widely recognised that children don't have adult abilities, emotions or motivations.

If your youngest is sobbing his heart out, play with him, find him friends his own age to play with (and this time ds1 will just have to go along) but don't lean on your oldest to produce feelings he doesn't have.

edam Sat 12-Jul-08 00:24:37

Oh, and complaining about the way they interacted with their cousin thrown into the mix is unreasonable too, I'm afraid. Par for the course - three children is always a difficult number.

I see the same thing with my (only) ds and the two sisters from next door - when all of them are playing together, eventually one gets left out. And then they make it up again and then the cycle continues... this is what children do, this is how it works, this is how they develop.

I have two sisters myself, btw, am sure I still have some scars from childhood squabbles - but we would lie down and die for each other as adults.

colditz Sat 12-Jul-08 00:26:53

If the little one is being told to get lost for just being there, then use 'sanctions' - as the three yearcold has just as much a right to be in the room as the 6 year old. I would step in to defend the 3 year old's rights, to be honest, I wouldn't just leave them to it if he's at risk of injury.

A good technique is to play a really fascinating game - with the three year old, and let the 6 year old see how much fun you are having playing with the 3 year old.

QS Sat 12-Jul-08 00:27:26

I am no good at this parenting thing. sad
It is such a struggle, I just dont know how to handle them. Sometimes I wonder if I should just leave my dh and the boys, they might be happier and more well adjusted on their own.

QS Sat 12-Jul-08 00:28:48

Colditz, I tried that too. And invited the other two in to the game, but they were quick to push the three year old out of it.

edam Sat 12-Jul-08 00:29:05

I remember my mother telling me to play with my younger sister when I didn't feel like it. And being really pissed off. Why should I have to entertain someone she had foisted on me? (Must have been about six as we'd just moved house.) Three years is a BIG gap when you are six.

If you don't get over-involved and try to remind yourself this is normal sibling behaviour, you will allow them to work this all out for themselves. And they will probably end up really good friends.

colditz Sat 12-Jul-08 00:30:04

nobody's good at parenting and you are doing nothing wrong. There is no recipe to produce a perfectly raised child=-loaf.

Stop beating yourself up - I handled the death of our cat quite badly and now ds1 cries when anyone picks flowers - because he doesn't want them to be dead sad

edam Sat 12-Jul-08 00:30:15

Stop right there, QS, of course they wouldn't be better off without you! Do you think a lot of this is to do with being generally ground down by circumstances?

Amphibimum Sat 12-Jul-08 00:31:04

i think its possible your ds1 is really hurting under the belief that he is not loved any more, or not as much. and he is reacting with anger, naturally.
it may seem counterintuitive, but maybe if you dedicate some special time to just ds1, weekly, it might improve things?

colditz Sat 12-Jul-08 00:32:15

Just don't let them, QS. Say "Ds2 is playing, i want to play with him and it's not fair to push him out - is it, Other-Child-Who-Is-Not-Ds1?"

And kids being kids, the child who isn't yours will agree with you. Your ds1 will have to play with your ds2 too or face being left out himself.

Quattrocento Sat 12-Jul-08 00:32:23

Dear QS

I do recognise all this. It's heartbreaking because you end up trying to protect the younger sibling from quite nasty behaviour from the older sibling.

Your little one sounds lovely. Mine used to do this. There isn't any easy solution but I did used to tell them both that I thought DD's behaviour was motivated by jealousy. And that it was important for them both to find a way past it. For DD because she kept on getting punished for being horrid beyond belief to DS and for DS because he didn't have the soulmate he needed.

My favourite line is "When we die off, you'll need to rely on one another".

Don't know if it helps. You're not alone though.


Tortington Sat 12-Jul-08 00:32:29

as an only chil thee relationships were completely new to me.

its easy to overcomplifcate things in your mind

my boys left our my girl and ere very mean to her - and still she followed them everywhere - calling heir names - playingwith them when they were mocking her

its just nomal sibling shit man - seriously leave them to it

they love each other. you just have to reinforce that and say it out loud.

colditz Sat 12-Jul-08 00:33:46

PS when I was 8 my brother was hospitalised with asthma and I sat on our stairs and cried myself sick.

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