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Siblings who fight all the time - and I mean all the time. How do you deal with this? Having a real impact on family life.

(30 Posts)
paolosgirl Thu 08-Jan-09 20:23:27

DC who are 9 and 11 fight all the time - they literally cannot be left alone for 5 minutes without WW3 breaking out. It's both verbal and physical, and location makes no difference. I've just returned from a trip to Tesco, where they fought in the car park as well as in the store. The fighting continued throughout dinner and escalated upstairs where she turned off the light when he was in the loo.

They've never got on, but DH and I are really at our wits end. Not only is it exhausting listening to it and dealing with it, but it spoils everything we try to do as a family and DC3 who is 21 months is starting to copy them. The thing is, when they are apart they are great kids - polite, well mannered, lovely children, but simply hideous together.

What do you do in this situation? Do you punish both of them, regardless of who starts it? Do you ignore? Please help!

mrsmaidamess Thu 08-Jan-09 20:26:51

I have 3 kids and I find if me and dh are positive, enthusiastic, spend time with them and notice the good stuff they are different children all together. I not suggesting you don't do these things, just letting you know what has changed an atmosphere of resentment , anger and frustration into a much nicer house to be in.

Have you tried sitting down as a family and decididng what behaviour is acceptable and what isn't?

GypsyMoth Thu 08-Jan-09 20:42:07

i have 5 dc......the 2 girls can be a nightmare (12 and 14). i find giving them something to do together helps them get on better. cooking,planning something,setting up new games etc.....might not work for everyone tho. as they got older,mine seemed to get worse,then when i videoed them on my phone and showed them,they were soooo embarassed.....

paolosgirl Thu 08-Jan-09 20:46:40

Yes, we have. We have regular family meetings at which we discuss behaviour, what we consider acceptable and what consequences will be put in place. They agree (they don't have a choice actually!), and then later that evening they'll be put to bed early for kicking each other or something similar!

It doesn't seem to matter what the atmosphere in the house is like. It's as if they go into their own little world and prepare to do 20 rounds with each other, which is why it's so frustrating. We're both really at the end of our tether with them, and getting very tired. A lovely game of Pictionary the other night ended in a fight on the kitchen floor and an early bed for them - again sad

CarGirl Thu 08-Jan-09 20:50:38

Have you read "How to talk so kids will listen, and listen so kids will talk" and their other book "siblings without rivalry" I found them helpful, must reread them though!

paolosgirl Thu 08-Jan-09 20:56:26

No I haven't Cargirl - I'm in town tomorrow, so will pop into Waterstones!

Doodle2U Thu 08-Jan-09 20:58:31

Have you tried bollocking them? I'm not trying to be glib but family discussions and all that are very Guardian! Try snarling yourself!

meandjoe Thu 08-Jan-09 21:04:52

my brother and sister were like that. my brother ended up dislocating my sister's hip by kicking her down the stairs when she was about 15, he was 13. tbh, not sure bollocking them would work, my dad tried this with them but it made them worse, giving them stuff to do together like cooking etc only made it worse, the only thing that worked as to separate them as much as possible. it sounds sad but it worked. they eache had time to themselves and one on one time with parents. some people will just never get on. they are 27 and 29 now and whilst the love is there, they just don't and never have 'liked' eachother.

paolosgirl Thu 08-Jan-09 21:05:08

We definitely don't read the Guardian in this house grin

Yep, they get a bollocking - they had one tonight from DH before they were put to bed (not their bedrooms) at 7.30 and DARED to come out of their rooms. The shame for the 11 year old. They have things confiscated, they are grounded, the TV/computer etc are taken away - and we do the 'right on' family meetings!

It's really knowing what to do when they start the fighting. One says something, the other snarls back, there'll be a kick, then a kick back and before I know it war has broken out. This morning they had their breakfast taken away (after a warning) because they were 'looking at each other' and another fight broke out.

Do I punish both every time regardless of who started it, or do I punish the offender - if I can work out who it was?

paolosgirl Thu 08-Jan-09 21:08:55

shock meandjoe!

Other friends seem less bothered by it than I am. One was almost stabbed by her brother (she ducked at the last minute); one broke her brothers nose; DH had his teeth broken by his sister and another had a fight with her brother and broke a glass pane in a door trying to get to him.

Is it a brother/sister thing??? My sister and I niggled occasionally, but nothing like this.

Hassled Thu 08-Jan-09 21:09:37

I wish I had some great advice for you but only have sympathy - DS1 and DD, 2 years apart, have basically fought since the day DD came home from hospital. They are still at it - and they're 19 and 21. I know they love each other and when well apart keep in touch via Facebook etc, but will just never get on - they're too different.

Be consistent about what's acceptable behaviour, but you can't force children to like each otehr. Some siblings just don't. My "punishment" at that age was money taken out of pocket money - 10p per crime, rising to 20p depending on seriousness. Some weeks they ended up owing me money.

Doodle2U Thu 08-Jan-09 21:11:49

No. DH is one of three boys. They all fought as well!

Divide them as much as possible and for me, punishing BOTH works - make it lose:lose all the way!

elliott Thu 08-Jan-09 21:14:19

I have this a bit at the moment with low-level sniping by ds1 directed at ds2. The only thing I can think of is if you try to practice alternative strategies/approaches for them to relate to each other better. Possibly hopelessly naive wink but I would have thought at 11 and 9 they should be able to learn less dysfunctional ways of relating. But also, probably more one to one time may be needed. I think one of our problems is the ds1 probably feels jealous of ds2 who tends to monopolise our attentions.

admylin Thu 08-Jan-09 21:14:37

Sorry, no advice on how to solve it but you have my sympathy.
I used to fight with my sister - we were very close in age and just totally clashed with our different personalities. It didn't get better until I left home and we later got to know each other again. Nothing helped, my parents used to shove us into a room together and say don't come out until you've sorted it out and are friends. We would stand looking at each other for ages then agree to pretend we were friends. We would go for weeks without speaking then it would all start over again.

Lancelottie Thu 08-Jan-09 21:19:20

Lurking with interet...

Lancelottie Thu 08-Jan-09 21:19:47

Dammit, no, with intereSt!

paolosgirl Thu 08-Jan-09 21:20:48

Punishing both seems to be the way forward. I think it could also just be a personality thing. DS (the 11 yr old) is a very strong willed boy who does tend to monopolise things, and DD is very airy fairy who does the annoying little sister act (I speak as a big sister grin) very well, so she'll wind him up, then step back and watch him explode. Then he'll lash out, she'll lash back - and bam, we're off again.

DH is all for keeping them apart whenever possible, and that might have to be the answer if they can't be together. Just not what I wanted for my family sad

Doodle2U Thu 08-Jan-09 21:21:02

It looks like "inteNt"! grin

Lancelottie Thu 08-Jan-09 21:44:37

Yep, doing that too!

paolosgirl Thu 08-Jan-09 21:46:33

Heading off to bed now (wow, what a whirl of a life I do lead). As always, thanks for all the advice. Good to know I'm not alone, and will be putting all the suggestions into play (including upping the number of bollockings they get grin grin)

Doodle2U Thu 08-Jan-09 21:48:25

G'night PG. If you get really stuck, I'll call round and snarl at them for you! Then smack them with a rolled up Guardian - that'll show 'em! grin

garden Thu 08-Jan-09 21:49:26

hi,do sympathise- have 2 dc, 8 and 4-8yr old has been jealous since his sister was born-sadly. give lots of attention and tell him how special he is, but he finds it 'tempting' (his word!) to wind her up/tease/upset her.
spoke to v. helpful ed.psych. about it who suggested doing activites together so he learns to like her- this works but so does seperating them and also accepting that i can only do so much.lots of good books on siblings which won't have THE answer but have good ideas. good luck and you are not alone!

lovelymumma Fri 09-Jan-09 09:45:10

I have 3 girls 6,7 and nine who argue a lot and I get fed up with the feeling that everyday there is fighting.An only child friend was at house the other day and said "is it like this all the time with everyone screaming",although I thought it was quite restrained at the time with only bickering going on! I still get really embarrassed when they start fighting in public,and usually find I get really angry,especially if they pinch or hit,because I hate any form of violence.I think I need to give them chores to do so they realise how cushy they have it at home.sorry I haven't been much help.

missingtheaction Fri 09-Jan-09 10:05:04

My two ds's (15 and 18) don't really like each other much. It's such a shock isn't it - but my mum says my two older sisters fought from the day they were born until they were in their late 20's. At my mum's 80th birthday we finally all made friends and the three of us went away for a holiday together. My mum said 'I've been waiting 50 years for this'.

If you accept that you can't make them like each other and that putting them together is a recipe for a fight then you can focus on other things - keeping them separate, keeping them busy, teaching them tolerance. but sad.

paolosgirl Fri 09-Jan-09 13:35:32

Well. another sad start to the day, with so much bickering over breakfast that they were made to eat at separate tables. They've just come in from school (yes, we have half days on Friday in this authority!) and they were hitting each other as they came through the door.

Peace reigns at the moment because they are both engrossed in some TV programme, and then this afternoon should be OK as he's going to the cinema and she is going to a friends house. We're going to MIL's this weekend, and they have been dared to within an inch of their lives to start fighting again. Fortunately she used to be a teacher so has seen it all.

I'm going to the bookshop as well to see if I can pick up a book that will help - if not for the advice then something to wallop them both with, as well as that rolled up Guardian grin grin

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