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Heeeeelp! How do I deal with this? Happening now...

(70 Posts)
FredWorms Sat 26-Jan-13 20:22:13

DD 11 and DS 13. She can't stand him, treats him like something she's scraped off her shoe at all times. I mean relentlessly. She undermines his confidence all day, every day. For the last 2 days every time he opens his mouth to speak she has hissed "shhhh" at him. It's like a hate campaign that has gone on and on and on. She calls him awful, hateful names about his physical appearance, really goes in where it hurts. We impose sanctions, she gets upset and stops for a day or so, then it starts again.

We have all put ourselves out today so DD could go riding. DS has stood around, uncomplaining, for hours. Afterwards we went to the supermarket and she was like a spoiled princess the whole time. About 1/2 hr ago, just about to sit down for a family meal, I hear a rumpus upstairs. She has been hideous to DS, (refusing to tell him where his phone charger is in the most provocative manner), he has reached the end of his tether and has pulled her hair and kicked her in the back. This never usually happens. He's clearly had enough.

The next bit was not good, on my part. I told her it was long overdue and showed no sympathy at all. She was crying, she's thrown laundry around upstairs (I mean deliberately chucked clean stuff all over the place), had a bath and is now eating alone in silence. I had a word with DS whilst she was upstairs. I told him violence is unacceptable under any circumstances, he has voluntarily written her a note of apology, he feels bad and says he just snapped. I've confiscated her beloved phone until weds (not told her yet).

What now? I'm going to have a delinquent on my hands. She's just so angry, most of the time, and I don't know why. It's been like this for a couple of years. How should I have dealt with the violence?

This is just crap. I was looking forward to this evening and it's all so bloody miserable.

piprabbit Sat 26-Jan-13 21:35:21

If you have a moment or two, you could take a look at It has lots of useful short clips with advice and information on handling all sorts of parenting issues. You might be interested in the ones on 'squabbling siblings', 'angry children' and 'family meetings'.

Good luck - and remember the mantra "this too shall pass".

out2lunch Sat 26-Jan-13 21:43:24

Do you think shebehaves like this with him because she can?

I agree with the others who say you need go be tougher with her.

My brother was a nasty bully to me growing up because he could get away with fair to both your dcs and intervene every time - it won't be easy but will be so worthwhile.

Sorry for terrible typing.

piprabbit Sat 26-Jan-13 21:47:53

I think out2lunch may have a point and I wonder if your DS snapped and hit out because he feels that you nobody else is doing anything to protect him. If he learns that hitting his DSis gets her off his back and incurs only minimal punishment, then you have the makings of a full scale war as the two of them battle it out while you stand on the sidelines and wring your hands.

Floralnomad Sat 26-Jan-13 21:52:36

At 11 and 13 can't you just keep them apart , at those ages they surely won't want to be dragging around together at weekends. I'd make time to do things with them individually . Tell your son to ignore her and tell your daughter that if she can't say something nice then not to speak to him at all . It is very tiring but from my experience it does improve eventually . Mine have never got on ,although it has improved slightly in the last year ( eldest now 20) , having said that mine have never physically attacked each other ,its all verbal . I have never got to the reasons behind why they don't get on and TBH I've given up trying to work it out , I think theyre just very different people .

Corygal Sat 26-Jan-13 21:57:39

Bullying this effective and sustained is a much bigger issue than the odd clout. I just hope this won't descend into battle of the offences, but I would tackle the first problem - the bullying - seriously.

Take your DD out for a walk and explain that she is a bully, and bullies aren't tolerated in your house. Ask her what she wants to do to fix it. Explain that she's had many chances in the past and that because nothing has improved, you're looking at more serious sanctions. List a couple of them as examples.

The key is you have to mean it. If you bale doing anything now, it will get worse and you won't be able to escape responsibility any further.

Corygal Sat 26-Jan-13 21:59:01

Incidentally, my Dbro also bullied me for England - parents ineffective, and he eventually got suspended for carrying on doing it at school once I'd left home.

MadameCastafiore Sat 26-Jan-13 22:01:18

You have to be strict. This has probably become a habit for her. Sorry to say it but you are not being a great parent to your DS. You are supposed to protect him from this sort of shot and you aren't.

I'd march upstairs and read her the riot act. Tell her every time she opens her nasty little mouth she needs to look up to see that tonne of bricks that will be descending on her.

Your son deserves more than this from his parents.

DrSeuss Sat 26-Jan-13 22:01:25

Why is she allowed an expensive, inconvenient hobby when she is so unpleasant?
Why does she have a phone when she won't even let her brother have the charger for his? Never mind Wednesday, give it back when some effort has been put in!
I was the child who watched her brother do as he wished. Do you have any idea what it is doing to him long term? Do you not understand that the feeling of being second rate will last for ever?
Would you allow a child at school to do this to your son? You say you have punished her. I have yet to hear of an actual, effective sanction being used.

DontEvenThinkAboutIt Sat 26-Jan-13 22:02:42

What a difficult situation. I would consider coming down really hard on your DD. Possibly to the extent of not allowing her to go in the same room as your DS (if your house allows it). This type of thing could be extremely damaging to your DS.

Does your DS have any suggestions.

The fact she has shhh'ed him for two days shows that she doesn't seem to take any of your warnings seriously. confused. Is she well behaved at school?

What are the most effective sanctions? Can you remove her phone and replace it with a vey basic calls only phone, ban her from the computer? You need to find out what works. With my DC's it was removing computer privilidges.

Good luck.

VenusRising Sat 26-Jan-13 22:07:47

Start writing it all down. White down every transaction between both dcs and other family members too.

Have a family meeting where everyone gets to say what they want out of the family. No blame games, just what behaviour is preferred and what you want out of family life- basic good manners is a start, fun is an extra option! Look for a win win for all.

If your Dd continues to bully your DS then you must call her up on it every time and send her to do some constructive work. if that fails to improve her behaviour, then send her to a psychologist, and if that fails, send her to boarding school. Seriously: and why oh why are you bending over backwards to appease her, she sounds like she's deeply disturbed.

Show her this thread: she needs to figure out how to express herself in a civil manner. Sure we all get frustrated and angry, but lashing out is a no no. She must learn how to recognise her feelings as they start up, and must have some strategies to hand to head off a violent / physical / verbal attack on her younger sibling.

Tbh, your family sounds like they need professional intervention. Good luck with it.

chocoluvva Sat 26-Jan-13 22:13:58

Is she jealous of him?

ironhorse Sat 26-Jan-13 22:24:48

your DS has been very restrained - i would have smacked her long before now if she spoke to me like that. she is acting like a spoilt brat and obviously thinks its OK to act the way she does - you say she was acting like a spoiled princess in the shop - why did you let her act like that? I was always told dont know was an answer and if i couldnt come up with anything i knew all about it - i would also have known about it if i had thrown laundry about, wouldnt have a leg to stand on.= - sounds like your far too soft on her.

i used to bicker with my brother all the time and roll about on the ground with each other and even now we are both in our 40s we still bicker but there was/is no malice in any of it.

LiveItUp Sat 26-Jan-13 22:27:32

So ... she has been vile to him for a couple of years, particularly horrid in the last couple of days, so you take them both out for a saturday and he gets to stand around in the cold watching her ride? confused Does she ever stand on the sidelines of a rugby / football pitch and watch him play a match? If yes, fine, you are treating them equally in that regard.

As others have said, it is your job as his parent to protect him and allow him to grow in an environment free from fear and ridicule. And as DrSeuss above said, if you wouldn't allow a child outside the family to speak to and treat your son like this, why do your let your daughter?

Sorry that sounds judgemental and you have come here for support. I really do sympathise. You need to be much firmer with her. VERY clear boundaries of acceptable behaviour. I suggest a family meeting, writing down agreed behaviours, and all signing them. If it were me, she would only get her phone back to communicate with others when she had made a consistent effort to get on with those in her immediate family.

Maybe a family holiday doing something where you have to get on and work together (I'm thinking camping, outdoor pursuits where they would have to work together as a team to achieve a goal). And no phones / gadgets allowed.

Good luck.

chocoluvva Sat 26-Jan-13 22:30:46

Hopefully, the events of today will have brought things to a head and given you all as a family the opportunity to have a fresh start.

Don't be too hard on your DS.

deleted203 Sat 26-Jan-13 22:39:47

I feel really sorry for DS and concerned at the impact your DDs behaviour must be having on him. Imagine having to live with the school bully who made your life miserable! Being put down constantly, humiliated, criticised, undermined by someone (presumably) bigger, more sarcastic, more unpleasant than you are. It will be doing dreadful psychological damage to him. And it sounds as though DS is a patient and easy going sort of child generally.

You have to get this sorted NOW. As LiveItUp says, it is YOUR job to protect him and you would not let anyone else treat him like dirt in this way. So why does she get to? I wouldn't confiscate his phone. He snapped and has voluntarily apologised. That would be the end of it for me. Glad that you at least told her it was long overdue. If she were mine she'd be sent upstairs to pick up all the stuff that she'd thrown around and told to grow up and stop behaving like a toddler. And then she would be told that her behaviour stops NOW. The minute she opens her mouth with something unpleasant you come down on her like a ton of bricks. The riding stops. The youth club, tea with friends, pocket money, days out. Anything she wants. These are not rights. They are treats that will be taken off you if you are unpleasant and behave badly. If she sulks or gets upset, or has a tantrum then send her to her room. You have to stop letting her rule the household and expecting everyone to tiptoe round her moods/wishes. She does not tell her brother to 'shhh' again. She speaks to him in a civil manner at all times or there will be hell to pay.

Globular Sat 26-Jan-13 23:19:13

madame Tell her every time she opens her nasty little mouth...

That's quite harsh, given she's only 11 sad

chocoluvva Sun 27-Jan-13 00:46:08

My DC just seemed to grow out of their constantly sniping at each other when DC2 turned 12.
They get on well now. They have more in common now, and DC1 doesn't find DC2 so embarrasing apparently.

Maybe you could let your DS have a bit more space. Did he need to be standing around watching your DD do her thing? Is he old enough to stay at home on his own now?

flow4 Sun 27-Jan-13 00:53:51

Here's what I think, Fred, for what it's worth...

Firstly, I think you dealt with today's incident perfectly well enough. smile Both your DCs behaved badly; you've challenged them both and sanctioned them both. People could (and probably will) argue about precisely what sanctions each of them deserves - but you did a reasonable job of weighing things up and did what you thought was right, which (let's face it) is the best any of us can ever do.

However, you have an underlying, 'chronic' problem that you need to handle differently - not (necessarily) because you're doing it wrong, but because what you have done so far just isn't working - your DD is still being vile.

You say you have already been punishing her for this behaviour. Because of this, I disagree with the people who say you should punish her harder and think you need to find something else.

By and large, humans (not only children) are not much motivated by punishment. I know lots of people will disagree, but the evidence is pretty clear: punishment doesn't really work very well. (See here for some reasons).

Also, people (including kids) tend to behave badly because they're not very happy. Your DD doesn't sound happy. I can't tell whether she's angry, or sad, or frightened, or jealous, or something else nasty, but whatever it is, she's not feeling good. Punishment will inevitably make her feel worse and there's a risk that it will therefore make her behave worse.

Lots of people confuse 'punishment' with 'consequences', IMO. Yes, a child needs to learn that there are consequences of bad behaviour; but the most powerful lessons come when these consequences are natural (not artificially created by a parent). In this situation, your DD has experienced several natural consequences - she's had her hair pulled, been kicked, had to eat alone, made her brother and her mother angry and had to deal with the unpleasantness of that... She might have learned a really useful lesson! But if not, you have some work to do highlighting the natural consequences of her being so nasty and making sure she understands them: her brother won't like her; he won't do her any favours; you'll be angry with her; you won't feel like giving her treat... Etc. Every time you notice a natural consequence of her nastiness towards her bro, point it out.

So, rather than punishing your DD, IMO you need to motivate DD to be pleasant. Reward and positive reinforcement work better than punishment. The best rewards, again, are natural ones: people are most motivated by 'intrinsic' rewards like making other people happy, and feeling good about themselves. Your DD might not be very good at recognising the 'good stuff' (lots of us aren't), so you can help, but pointing out to her every time she's pleasant and telling her how pleased that makes you feel with her.

Most importantly, perhaps, you need to show her pleasantness does reap rewards. If your DS is 'easy' and nice, and yet doesn't get much praise or attention or treats, it might be that she's learning "pleasantness doesn't pay". You need to reinforce the good stuff, which means making sure that your DS gets lots of attention, appreciation and praise when he's pleasant - much more than she gets if she's unpleasant.

As well as praise, some other things that motivate people are:
- Appreciation: this is like praise, except you can appreciate things before they're done - you can appreciate her effort as well as any success...
- Attention, especially yours: give her more, but make sure you give attention to the behaviour you want rather than the stuff you don't want!
- Challenge: set her a certain period of time to be nice (a mealtime, an hour, a day, etc.)
- Success: make sure she succeeds in these challenges - so start small with something you're sure she can do. For instance, challenge both of them to say just one nice thing about each other (pick your moment carefully!) If you think she can't be nice about her brother at all, then start with something entirely different, to give her lots of experience of succeeding at something you've asked her to do, and then move on to the 'being nice' stuff.
- Learning about herself: most people are motivated by learning (though not necessarily by school). Help her reflect. As well as asking her "Why did you do that?" when she's behaved badly - which might be too difficult - just help her notice her behaviour to start with, by asking something like "Did you mean to be so rude?", "Did you notice how horrible you just were to DB?", "Oh, that was a much nicer way of talking! What do you think made it sound so nice?", etc.

And also, I'd say it's worth trying you think will help your DD to feel happier, because that will almost certainly make her behave better.

Goodness, I've waffled on long enough, I'll shut up now in a moment!

I'm not saying your DD should 'get away with' being horrible to her bro. I'm saying that focussing on the horribleness and punishing it hasn't worked; so instead you could try focussing on the positive, and leave the negative to take care of itself...

achillea Sun 27-Jan-13 01:10:27

Part of the fighting is about giving each other emotional space. It is normal for siblings to fight and argue, it wouldn't be normal if they didn't.

Apart from that obvservation I can't top the advice that flow4 gives above. My dds are at each others throats too.

Dd1 is now moving out of the shared room because dd2 is being impossible. She is prepared to take the box room. In our case dd1 has no privacy and she is ready for some, dd2 has no respect for personal space (additional needs etc) so it is time to separate.

I'm sure it will settle.

Cervixfiddler Sun 27-Jan-13 02:26:00

I have been going through the same shit with my kids. DS 13 and DD 10. They have driven me mad since she learned to run and talk confused They are both pretty vile to one another, though she is far worse than him. He's pretty chilled tbh. She's a bloody termagant. In fact, she was a mere 6 mo old the first time she pulled his hair and screamed bloody blue murder because he had the cheek to sit on my lap next to her. After years of navigating through the hell that is parenthood, I think I keep things under control with my own threats of violence and apocolypse being visited upon them when they dare to fall asleep and risk me becoming a mad woman from the depths of hell... I think this whole situation is normal - unpleasant as it is - and Flow4 gives really amazing advice that I will use more often myself. Also, I was considering that your DD might be on the verge of puberty and the hormonal upheaval of that might be causing her to be viler than normal. God knows I was a horrible little bitch at that point in my life. Like you, when my son has had enough, I also tell her that she deserves the slap / kick / punch / push / menial strangulation / nosebleed / partial drowning / etc that she got, coldly watch her cry in frustration because I will not take her side and quietly let DS know on the side that lashing out in violence really isn't the best way to go, but if he does feel the need in future, leave no evidence behind and the rose patch out back is a pretty good burial site. wink Above all, try to keep your sense of humour or you'll end up in a mental facility before they are 18. Good luck.

porridgeLover Sun 27-Jan-13 09:05:56

Excellent, excellent post flow4

Theas18 Sun 27-Jan-13 09:15:04

In think your ds apologising is enough tbh.

As regards your dd you can either come down on her hard and make her earn trays like riding. Or, and it's supposed to work, though you won't initially like doing it....spend more one to one time-more cuddles, walks outside, girly films etc.

Oh and your ds is 13 . How about cutting him some space without her? Can he really not stay home alone for a couple of hours instead of standing around at riding?

Startail Sun 27-Jan-13 09:39:23

Lay off the sanctions and read the chapter on punishment in
"Who to talk so teens will listen and listen so teens will talk"

If she's anything like my DD2 your DD, deep deep down hates being the youngest, she hates the one thing that is in no ones power to change. She hates the fact that she is powerless ever to change that.

If you punish her that heightens her feelings of anger and resentment, it heightens her feeling that she's at the bottom of the heap.
She will blame you for being horrible parents, she will blame DS for ever being born, but she won't behave any better.

You need to find a way of giving her the control and independence she desperately seeks without her perceiving it as a reward for being vile.

Seriously I'm not one for parenting manuals, But in this case READ THE BOOK!


specialsubject Sun 27-Jan-13 10:22:25

You already HAVE a delinquent. She might be only 11, but she is nasty and vicious. You are doing her no favours by letting this carry on, everybody hates the school bully. If she 'doesn't know why' then she can just stop.

they don't have to spend time together (Who would want to spend time with her as she is at the moment?) but he mustn't live in fear in his own house. Why didn't you stop the horrendous 'sssh' the moment it started?

stop her abusing him, make the place safe, remove all her entitlements - and then start trying to change her.

best of luck.

PacificDogwood Sun 27-Jan-13 12:45:13

flow4, excellent post and I agree with everything you've have said.
The challenge is to put it in practice when tempers are running high and, when there is physical violence involved, protecting the current punchbag in the heat of the moment.

But yes, v v good advice in your post.

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