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Sibling violence

(22 Posts)
loopyluna Fri 23-Aug-13 14:05:17

DS is 13, DD is 11. They have always bickered and wound each other up. DS has always been jealous and has a bad temper. DD is extremely argumentative.

However, DS is getting bigger and has, on a few occasions, hit DD (slap on the face.) Each time it has been in frustration at her winding him up, but it is not acceptable. DD always gets very upset about it.

I have talked at length with DD and I think she is starting to try not to get into arguments with DS. DS, however, will not listen to me, nor accept any responsibility for his actions. It is all his sister's fault, she deserved it...

I'm really upset about this. Any ideas as to how to handle DS?

cory Fri 23-Aug-13 14:46:27

I think this is one occasion where you have to be absolutely firm. Spell it out to him: no violence permitted in your household ever. Point out that if he does that to someone in the street he will be done for assault. Explain to him that growing into a man means he will have to take control over his body because he can do a lot more damage with it, that things that might have been ok when he was 5 or 6 are not ok any longer.

louby44 Fri 23-Aug-13 16:39:29

I too have a very aggressive DS13 who is very irritating to his younger brother (10). I remove things from him if he antagonises him or winds him up. He's just spent 48 hours without his ipod and TV because he was so irritating which then leads to fighting.

Boys do fight though and then 10 minutes later its forgotten.

Sparklysilversequins Fri 23-Aug-13 16:47:50

My ex used to get quite physical. He has three sisters and used to with them too when they argued as kids and teenagers. I think it was only a very small step to start pushing his wife around, he was used to being like that with the women he lived with when he was angry and his parents never really curbed it. That is what would worry me. I have a ds and a dd and physical stuff is met with zero tolerance.

loopyluna Fri 23-Aug-13 17:24:09

Sparkly -that is exactly what I'm worried about.

My youngesr sister just got out of a physically abusive relationship. My DC don't know why she split up with her ex but I'm tempted to use this as an example to try to shock DS into seeing that hitting is never acceptable. When I mentioned this idea to my mum she was horrified and defended DS saying that it's "six and two-threes". I disagree, DD is smaller and is never physical.

lotsofdirections Fri 23-Aug-13 20:43:54

You need to make it clear that physical violence is totally unacceptable but also that males who hit females are scum. It doesn't matter if you are wound up you still don't hit. You seem to be sending a very unhealthy message to your daughter that somehow the violence is her fault because she "wound him up". This isn't rough and tumble it is face slapping, a classic 'shut up' message. I would call the police on 101 next time and get an officer to explain it is assault.

lljkk Sat 24-Aug-13 13:27:13


cory Sat 24-Aug-13 19:12:55

I have a friend who has not been able to curb this behaviour in her 13 and 11yo. The result is she cannot leave them alone even for a short while because they might hurt each other, and even when she is at home her best bet is to make sure they are both in separate rooms engrossed in electronic games as any communal activity is likely to end in bloodshed. Ds asked me to stop inviting them years ago as he was getting fed up with having his things ruined by the fighting and being embarrassed in front of his other, more mature friends.

"Boys do fight" isn't good enough imho. If that is what they believe, and they go on to carry that belief out at school they will almost certainly be expelled. "Boys who fight get into trouble" is my mantra. It doesn't matter if they would be friends 10 minutes later: 10 minutes is quite enough to break somebody's jaw or cause other long-lasting damage.

louby44 Sat 24-Aug-13 19:25:09

But boys DO fight. I teach Reception and see it all the time. It's built in behaviour. Steve Biddulph in his book Raising Boys talks about it quite a bit. I quote....

"WHY BOYS SCUFFLE AND FIGHT causes energetic and boisterous behaviour....boys feel insecure if there isn't enough structure in a situation. If no one is in charge they begin jostling with each other to establish the pecking order."

Sparklysilversequins Sat 24-Aug-13 19:30:27

I think SOME boys fight but not all boys. I help out at my dd's school and used to at ds's too and there's definitely a little gang that do. Some boys like to wrestle around, some like to play football all break, some like to sit in the playhouse. I just don't that its true to say "Boys like to fight".

In my dd's class there's probably about three that do and they're always at it. The rest seem to like doing all the sports stuff that's laid on for them at break time.

cory Sat 24-Aug-13 19:32:55

It may be built in behaviour in males, louby, but it is not acceptable. Or do you think it is ok for grown men to punch their wives just because it is inbuilt behaviour?

Note that quotation you just gave:

"If no one is in charge they begin jostling with each other to establish the pecking order."

*If noone is in charge*- but the OP is, and should be, in charge in her own home. Also boys play-jostling, as in the Biddulph quote, is a very different situation from a boy hitting his younger sister in the face because she irritates him.

I have a 13yo. If he took it into his head to punch me because I irritated him, he could easily put me in hospital. It doesn't matter if it's normal or natural or whatever: it simply isn't behaviour that can be allowed.

At 13, a boy needs to know enough about his own strenght to avoid behaviour that could have serious consequences, either in causing physical injury or in intimidating people around him. And if he doesn't know it, he needs to be taught.

cory Sat 24-Aug-13 19:34:27

My friends' sons are actually avoided in the local neighbourhood, though they are an otherwise lovely family. The other 13yos think they are embarrassing because of the way they behave.

loopyluna Sat 24-Aug-13 19:37:04

It probably is pecking order. DS is the oldest but DD is extremely bright and quick-witted. She skipped a class at school which DS is jealous of too. He just gets so frustrated he lashes out, but it has got to stop.

This afternoon he shoved her really hard getting out of the car so I took him aside and gave him a very tough talking to and told him about ex bil and the DV. He argued back but I could see him thinking it through and he actually apologised (begrudgingly but still) to DD.

I'm just going to have to keep on at him, every instance, and hopefully it will eventually sink in that violence is not the answer.

The thing is, he is really not an aggressive child at all, except with poor DD. Strangely, perhaps, I have no qualms leaving them home together as they get on really well when I'm not around as DS seems to "step up" and become responsible for his little sister!

cory Sat 24-Aug-13 19:43:49

Seems you are on the ball there, OP, and that he will be fine eventually. It's for his own good; life becomes easier when you learn how to deal with aggression.

louby44 Sat 24-Aug-13 20:01:29

Of course it's not acceptable for men to punch women??? Why would you even presume that I think that's ok???? What an odd thing to say. I was talking about 4 and 5 year olds!

I have had boys in my class who play fight and need structure to help them play. I have boys who steer clear of anything physical.

I have also had girls who have been aggressive. It's behaviour stemming from our ancestors.

It's what we do as adults to help them manage this!

cory Sat 24-Aug-13 20:46:37

And where is the relevance of your 4 and 5 yos to an OP concerning a 13yo?

My 13yo is the size of a man (5 foot 8, and size 10 shoes) and so are all his mates. That is why he has to know that he cannot behave like a 4yo, because at that size 4 yo behaviour is no longer safe.

That is the situation the OP is about.

When my dd was a toddler she used to bite any friend who got between her and a toy. Of course she knew she wasn't allowed in those days either and she knew she was being naughty. At 16, she knows that it would not only be naughty but that the upheaval caused would disrupt her whole future. The fact that the toddler behaviour was probably inborn is neither here nor there.

louby44 Sat 24-Aug-13 22:56:12

I was talking about my experience of teaching young children that play aggressively.

loopyluna Sun 25-Aug-13 15:25:25

Cory -you see, I could start a whole new thread, but think this might be part of the prob...

DS's friends are all huge, man-sized lads with big feet and deep voices. DS wears age 10-11 clothes, has size 5 feet and still looks and sounds like a little boy. I am not justifying his behaviour at all, but am convinced that he is taking out frustration on his sister as he is just too small for rough and tumble with his mates!

Question is, how to help him get a grip on his anger and curb his temper??? I'm going to make sure he knows violence is not acceptable and he knows the consequences should he hit DD will be a grounding and loss of privileges, but any other ideas would be welcome.

lotsofdirections Mon 26-Aug-13 15:10:41

So he takes out his feelings of being inadequate on a younger, physically weaker female mmmm I think you also need to have a serious think about how you and he seem to be putting her feelings second. How do you think she feels about her brother slapping her face? There is a serious issue these days with teenage girls being subject to DV from their boyfriends and there is a strong argument that it is down to conditioning. Will you feel the same when it is her boyfriend slapping her face because he feels inadequate? You only mention your DS's feelings what about your DD's?

cephalicdream Mon 26-Aug-13 19:18:03

Why are you feeling sorry for and excusing ds when dd is the one who has been hurt?

You need to be a LOT more firm and have zero tolerance.

MoominMammasHandbag Mon 26-Aug-13 20:36:06

You really need to go zero tolerance on this. It is your DS who needs to modify his behaviour not your DD. If my boy was ever physical with one of his little sisters (and they do bicker quite a lot) he would be massively punished.

cory Tue 27-Aug-13 09:01:57

I think you should carry on grounding etc, but also that you should act genuinely outraged. If you are making excuses at the back of your mind he may pick up on that. Being slightly smaller than his peers is not a dreadful disaster that he has to compensate for- at least not in this way.

So that is Step One: making it sure that the whole of your demeanour shows that there is no excuse for this behaviour.

This does not exclude Step Two which is trying to build up his self esteem at other times. There are plenty of sports that would provide an outlet for his physical needs. Or something like cadets or outdoor survival activities. Just speaking to him like an adult and giving him adult responsibilities can help.

But try to see these two things as separate:

He doesn't have to have good self esteem to stop hitting his little sister: that is something he has to stop doing even if he feels like shit.

But because you love him you want to build up his self esteem for his own sake.

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