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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.

Abra1d Sun 27-Jan-13 12:54:30

OP> you might be describing my children a year ago. My daughter, two years younger, would wind up my son, who is a bit of a 'reactor'.

She has now stopped winding him up and has become very supportive to him.

It's very sad and awful to relate this, but I think one of the reasons, apart from growing out of it, perhaps, was that two teenage boys known to us killed themselves in separate and unrelated incidents. It showed her in the most tragic way possible just how fragile and vulnerable boys can be. I don't think either of these boys were being bullied or teased, by the way: there were other things going on, but it made her think about her brother and realise that she did care a lot about him. She had a real shock on both occasions and was visible shaken.

I hope and pray nobody else needs to have these things happen to have conversations like this, but perhaps some general chat about the sad things that can happen to teenagers and how we all need to look out for one another?

NotGoodNotBad Sun 27-Jan-13 17:10:25

"your DS has been very restrained - i would have smacked her long before now if she spoke to me like that"

Me too! Whoever mentioned natural consequences is quite right. The natural consequence of goading someone day in, day out, is that one day they'll turn round and wallop you. If you're lucky, maybe his reaction will actually teach her a lesson and make her think twice next time she opens her mouth.

secretscwirrels Sun 27-Jan-13 17:15:21

YY flow4 wise words.

I have had issues like this in the past between DS1 and DS2.
One technique which had some success was that I talked to DS1 quite calmly about the effect his attitude to his brother had on the family as a whole and me in particular. How sad I felt when I heard him putting down his brother or sneering at him. How family life as a whole was being spoilt by his unpleasantness. He was quite taken aback by this and made visible efforts to improve.

SecondhandRose Sun 27-Jan-13 17:25:50

Oh dear, really sorry to hear this. I can only echo what others have said. Your daughter behaves like she does because she can get away with it and go riding. A win win for her.

Your son at some point will reach puberty and grow into a very big unhappy young man if this continues. I agree with others, I would not punish him for this outburst, I think he has done extremely well to contain himself so far.

I have no idea why she behaves like she does and can't help you there. Is it worse on certain days of the month, if so she could be hormonal. But also how does she behave with her peer group?

She needs to know what is acceptable and what isn't. You need to carry out any threat that you make and be prepared to not go riding even if you have to pay for it anyway. You must not back down.

My DD always has a disgusting room, I ground her if it isn't tidy and she won't get pocket money either if she doesn't keep it nice. She knows the rules. Thankfully she won't go near her brother (who is just under 6ft 5' now) to be nasty - she wouldn't dare!

Startail Sun 27-Jan-13 17:55:39

Seriously read the chapter I suggested it's coming from exactly the same ideas as FLOW4s link.

It's just easier to read, has cartoons and a practical plan of action.

It's not a new book, your library or a friend probably has a copy. It's stupidly expensive for a light weight paperback even on kindle.

flow4 Sun 27-Jan-13 23:04:26

You're right, Pacific, it's absolutely not advice to put into practice when tempers are running high and/or when physical violence is involved.

The OP was asking for advice/suggestions about 'long-term strategy' (I think), rather than 'crisis intervention', so that's what I was focussing on.

When I think about it, in 'crisis' circumstances I aim to:

1. Prevent if possible: distract 'em just like toddlers tho' maybe not with bananas ; head it off with some other activity; separate in anticipation, etc.

2. Remind kids of no violence rules (they sometimes seem to forget v easily when they're angry hmm )

3. Listen out for whether they're equal participants: since my kids rarely argue in front of me, I am often making judgements about whether/how to intervene from another room - it's very tricky, and I don't always get it right. I agree with achillia and others who say some sibling conflict is normal, and actually I think that if parents always intervene it can cause problems, because the kids don't learn to resolve disagreements for themselves... But I find I can usually hear a 'change of pitch' or some sort of 'escalation of emotions' - a sign that one or the other isn't coping any more - and that's what I listen out for.

4. Checking/giving feedback: I call something like "Are you both OK? It sounds like that's going too far". This gives them both the opportunity to take it down a notch if it's a 'fair fight', and gives me more of a sense of whether everything's still OK.

5. Intervene if one of them isn't OK or can't 'handle it': sometimes that's the younger, smaller one; sometimes it's the older, more insecure, less articulate one, who's more likely to 'snap' and be violent. I intervene very directly by entering the room, shouting "Stop it!" before anything else, and if necessary stepping in between them (but that point hasn't been reached for a very long time).

6. Separate: sending or taking one of them out of the room. I can't really 'send' them to their rooms any more (at 13 and 17 - they just don't go) but usually the one who had had enough is happy to come with me.

7. Express my dislike: I'll reinforce that I don't like fighting, or that they went too far, or that one of them was out of order.

8. I don't use sanctions: I learned a long time ago that unless you see every moment of a conflict, you can't be sure who's 'right' and who's 'wrong', and anyway punishment doesn't seem to work (see above).

9. Don't give it more attention at the time: You know that old bit of advice, Ignore the behaviour you don't want to encourage? Well, because of this, I give conflict as little of my attention as I can manage, at/around the time it's happening. Once the immediate crisis is over and I have (I hope) prevented anyone getting hurt or losing control, I don't fuss or comfort or nag. If anyone is upset, I'll give hugs, but I'm also likely to say something like "Well, you should have walked away sooner".

10. If anything needs discussing, talk about it much later: IME, nothing constructive is ever discussed in the immediate aftermath of an argument or fight - adrenaline and testosterone mean no-one can think straight for a while. If I think they need to talk about something, or I need to say anything about their behaviour, I'll do it hours later, or even the next day.

It seems to work reasonably well. My boys dislike each other fairly intensely - my youngest says he hates the eldest - and they have very different 'attack styles (my eldest is more likely to be physical and my youngest is more likely to be verbally nasty or cruel) - but they haven't 'totally lost it' with each other ever, and conflicts where someone gets even slightly hurt (as opposed to angry) are very rare - maybe 3 times a year. I reckon we get to 'stage 4' maybe once a month. They wind each other up a lot, but it hardly ever gets unmanageable.

I am less good at handling conflict/aggression when it is directed at me tho' - or I used to be - but I have (sadly) had quite a bit of 'practice' with DS1 and learned a lot. And I have found it much easier since I introduced the 'no violence' rule...

Sorry - I've made a couple of long posts now! blush I guess it must be useful for me to think it all through like this!

FredWorms Sun 27-Jan-13 23:13:59

Blimey, the riding thing got people going didn't it? It's not regular and it's free, a relative has a horse and it was a pre-arranged thing. I encouraged DS to come along because he spent much of the day before alone at home messing on his computer and I thought fresh air might do him good. I'm certainly not bending over backwards to appease her.

The thing is, as a few perceptive readers have noticed, the sanctions aren't working. "Coming down like a ton of bricks" doesn't work. I removed her phone last night, she's not getting it back until she's been civil to him for 3 days. She loves her phone. It's her first, a Christmas present. She is v angry and has been nasty to him several times today. It's not working.

I've ordered the book Startail, thankyou.

I've also tried praising the good stuff, spending time with her etc. I'm stumped, tbh.

Cervixfiddler, you are my friend grin

FredWorms Sun 27-Jan-13 23:25:12

I should perhaps say a bit about DS. He's articulate, charismatic, kind, much loved by his teachers and is a total star. He is a big character, verbose; a hard act to follow I should imagine.

Startail, I have thought for some time that DD can't stand the fact that he's older than her, knows more than her, reaches milestones first etc. She goes wild if he tries to offer advice to her about anything. She has put herself in positions where she messes up at school rather than accept his advice about which classroom to go to or whatever.

Startail Sun 27-Jan-13 23:48:54

DD2 doesn't like being the youngest at all.
Despite the fact that she reads, spells and makes friends far more easily than her dyslexic big sister (who is three years older), she still hates it.

There are several threads running at the moment about DDs and DDs of 11. Seems to be a very frustrating in between age.

I was a horrible Y5/Y6 very disobedient and cheeky.
I think DCs that age want more freedom than they can handle, but are still very insecure and want to hold on to being little kids too.

My two are totally different and surprisingly don't fight.
Partly because DD1 is very tolerant of DD2's control freak nature and let's her have her own way. Partly because DD2 knows any cocky school work or friendship snide comments get her sent instantly to her room.

They have too, DD1 is only tolerant up to a point. Then DD2 is likely to get thumped. DD1 is not little, never has been.

Also we live in the middle of no where if you want company you need to get along.

I have the book from the linty and the chapter reminded me of a year 5 boy in a class I helped in.

Teacher wanted to talk to his mum because he was being a grade A pain. He said to me he didn't care he'd already had all his privileges removed and he couldn't see what else she could do. He really didn't care.

He was 10 and he had a brain, but he just accepted that he'd always be being punished and in trouble.sad

Startail Sun 27-Jan-13 23:50:12

Library not linty

steppemum Mon 28-Jan-13 00:12:19

my 2 oldest are like this, but much younger. my older ds is constantly relentlessly horrible to his younger sister. Compounded by the fatc that he is nice to and very sweet to dd2 who is the youngest.

I think it is insecurity underlying it. He thinks we love her more than him. She is calm and co-operative and 'good' and he is emotional, reactive and kicks against everything.

We try several tactics of giving him time, which makes him calmer.

We also have a zero tolerance to meanness. One mantra I have is that everyone in our house has the right to be there and the right to be respected in their own home.

He has ot leave the room/go to his room if he continues wiht his unkind comments.

It doesn't really hit the underlying stuff though. I wish I could help more, as I see ours going on like this into the future.

one thought. My brothers were consistently horrible to me until my parents went to work overseas and we all went to boarding school (aged 9, 11, and 13) in the first holday together the teasing had just stopped. Space and disctance and their own lives away from me did something

secretscwirrels Mon 28-Jan-13 09:37:19

I think Flow should write a book. I'd buy it. smile

NotGoodNotBad Mon 28-Jan-13 09:38:41

Just a thought re sibling rivalry - my brother was 18 months older than me and seemed to always do everything first, know more than me, etc. (Don't remember behaving like OP's DD, mind you....) Anyway, we ended up going to different secondary schools (boys' grammar and girls' grammar) and I was quite pleased about this. For me it cut down on the feeling of trailing in someone's footsteps, and it was nice to be able to make my own way.

PacificDogwood Mon 28-Jan-13 13:03:55

Flow's book has been written (see above link) grin
My own problem with crisis intervention seems to be that things can flare so quickly and suddenly that I don't see it coming until the fists are flying. They are good at making faces at each other (silently) until sombody, usually DS2, loses their rad.

Fred, I am certain with my 2 that low self-esteem/self-worth has a lot to do with DS2's outbursts. DS1 is v academic, high flyer at school (they go to the same school, natch), popular, funny, much better at 'reading' social signals, emotionally far more mature than DS2 than their 12 month age gap would suggest.
So, DS2 feels rubbish at everything not because he IS rubbing, but because his older brother appears better at everything. In fact, DS2 is doing just fine in most things, and is better at some other things than dS1 ie sport. He just does not value it the same.

Today they were fighting over who brushed their teeth better, for goodness sake hmm!

I have been trying hard to get DS2 involved in some activity, any activity, that DS1 does not do, but he point-blank refuses to go to rugby/cubs/art calss. For I care, I'd take him ballet dancing, just get him a taster of something that might turn out to be his 'thing'.

Sorry, to offload here. I clearly have nothing particularly helpful to say, other than offer sympathy. I saw his counsellor today who felt that things had improved before Christmas (they had) and was going to close his case, but I asked her to meet with him again. He is so much happier when he has been to see her. From what I can tell, she does nothing radically different than what I am trying at home (getting him to look on his good points/strength, getting him to set goals etc) but it seems to much more effective coming from somebody who is not-mummy IYKWIM.

So maybe that is my genius helpful input on your thread, fred: consider getting outside help inivolved?

PacificDogwood Mon 28-Jan-13 13:04:40

He is not rubbing FFS, rubbish <proofread failure>

greencolorpack Mon 28-Jan-13 13:20:08

My ds and dd are getting into winding each other up on a regular basis, it's getting annoying. What I say to them is "imagine you are a grown up and you phone your sister/ brother and they screen their calls because you were such a horrendous bully and scumbag to them when you were this age.". At the moment this is a sobering thought to them. I answer calls to my sister cos we get on well but often screen calls from my parents cos they are a mind trip. So it's not like I'm talking about a scenario from fiction.

Fredworms, how about a family meeting where you get the children to reflect on the things they have said to each other and discuss how those things made them feel. Then get your dd to write down "when I did this it made my brother feel x. I would not like to feel x, so I will try not to do it again.". The act of writing essays is long winded and boring and forces them to think about their behaviour.

FredWorms Mon 28-Jan-13 13:31:18

flow, please don't apologise for long posts, it's all useful smile

chocoluvva Mon 28-Jan-13 13:45:31

My DD used to wind up her younger bro something chronic and he'd react violently. DH and I would tell him off, but not really impose any major sanctions. I really sympathise OP, it's so wearing. If DD complained that he'd been rough with her we would acknowledge that he shouldn't have behaved like that, but also remind her that she knew he was likely to lash out if she wound him up, so it was foolish of her to do so.

It's hard to know in your case whether talking to your DD at length will yield any insights into why she's so mean to her brother. It might or it might not.

It could result in her being even more mean to him if her behaviour is motivated partly or wholly by a need for attention (even though the attention she gets from this behaviour won't be positive) or it might be really helpful.

For just now, I'd be hopeful that after finally seeing the "natural consequences" of her behaviour she begins to grow out of this.

Is your DD at secondary school yet? Once my two were both at secondary school they became more 'equal' again and had more in common.

I hope things either resolve spontaneously for you or some of the suggestions here work. I'm sure things will improve. smile

getoffthecoffeetable Mon 28-Jan-13 14:14:36

She's definitely not being bullied at school is she? Just checking that your DD isn't mirroring what might be happening elsewhere.

For what it's worth, my two brothers were like this together but now get along fine now they're both grown up and have left home. Doesn't help you with the situation now though I suppose.

I have no useful advice. Just wanted to wish you luck.

flow4 Mon 28-Jan-13 17:21:16

You mean someone's beaten me to it, Pacific? Dammit, I'd just started planning my literary career with scwirrels as my agent ! grin

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