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Older Sib Issues? Pleasse let me know if you've had 'em. . .

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
I am on the verge of seeking out "professional" help with this situation. It is so worrisome to me that I woke tonight and couldn't get back to sleep for thinking about it . . . so here I am.

My first born has never liked the triplets. He has bounced between passive dislike and outright aggression. But he has never liked them.

They have been playing together a lot this summer - which I took as a "maybe we finally rounded the corner on this issue" sign. But when I looked closer - I see that much of the interaction is negative - teasing, meanness, tricking, etc.

He will hurt them - sometimes without any provocation. When I've walked in to tears from my little ones I will often find my eldest insisting "it was an accident" or I'll hear someone crying and then I'll hear my eldest bargaining with them not to tell me, etc.

We have worked soooo hard to try and give DS extra attention/special time/1-1 time since the triplets were born. We got babysitters and took him out alone - often - like weekly. We have always carved out time during the day to do 1-1 things with him.

I am just so sad by this. I feel so guilty. Like its something I did. Maybe I was so short-tempered when the kids were all so little, I dunno? Is this normal? I wish there were more books, research out there on family dynamics with multiples. Please ladies - tell me your experiences. I need something to help me try to understand this.
post #2 of 17
I don't have any advice but couldn't read and not reply. Sending you a huge hug across the web...
post #3 of 17


Just wanted to give you a hug.

I don't think that you can blame this on yourself/your parenting. We do the best with the situation that we're given, and you seem like such a loving mom who has made a huge effort to keep your son happy and well-adjusted towards the trips. So much of a child's personality is innate. It's not your fault. Really.

Hopefully other BTDT moms will respond. I think, though, that it could be a great thing to find a good therapist (comes w/recs from someone you trust) to help give you some insight into your son's actions as well as different approaches to help him. Play therapy might be really helpful.

Also, I'm wondering if you eldest child is in preschool at all? It might give him some big kid time and also give you a bit of time with one less child in the house.
post #4 of 17
BTDT have the grey hairs to prove it. It's HARD with an older kid. My son harrasses the girls to no end, usually with hugs, but sometimes he hits or otherwise hurts them He's only 20 months older but he's literally 2x their size and STRONG. It's a constant struggle. The twins are 2 now and things did get better at 12 months but there is still difficulty. My cousin also has twins and an older child and it took until the twins were 3 -3 1/2 before the aggression stopped. I know we did seek therapy for Elliott's behavioral issues but only with modest results. It sounds like you're doing all the right things, special one on one time with him alone really helped us. I always introduce him first when people ask about the twins. The twins are just so "special" an get so much attention that it's hard for him. He's really cute too and used to get so much attention pre-twins but he's literally invisible with the twins around.

I can't imagine what it must be like for them you know? Imagine being the center of attention to being second to two or three babies and all the extra attention they ALWAYS get. They must feel like their younger sibs are complete home wreckers. As hard as it is for us to raise multiples, their whole identities have to change. It's often hard for kids to adjust to one little sib but 2 or 3 is huge. I think that alot of the healing will just take time and they will probably always fight just as all siblings do, but with time perhaps they'll find some common ground... or they'll gang up on him and defend themselves.

One thing that has helped up alot also is doing activities as a group, like circle time in the am, or playing games together like duck duck goose. I don't know how old your triplets are but if they're not old enough yet, they will be one day. Teaching them to cooperate through fun activities sets them up for at least less fighting. I think that for us once El stopped seeing the girl's as the enemy and as partners in crime his tolerance for them grew tremendously. Good luck and this too shall pass.
post #5 of 17
We have had a different set of issues with DS1 and the triplets than you describe. He has always liked them, but hated that he didn't have me.

We haven't had the violence towards the LOs. When there are physical issues between them, it usually is because DS1 forgets that he is almost 4 years older, a foot taller, and twice as heavy as the biggest of them. But, he acts out towards me and kids at school.

I did have a childhood behaviour specialist meet with me and DS1 to discuss whether he saw a problem that needed special consideration, but he didn't think we needed to worry.

I do find that getting DS1 out of the house and playing with other kids his age without the trips helps. DS1 doesn't have many real "friends" so our best bet is spontaneously meeting people at the park and interest-based classes. And, if i don't make some time for him 1-1 every day, things deteriorate rapidly.

Wish I had something more helpful to say. Life with the triplets plus one is hard enough when they mostly get along. I can't imagine how hard it must be for you.
post #6 of 17
I have a friend who is an older brother who was followed by identical triplet sisters. He is nearly 60 so it was back in the day when triplets were very uncommon & you can imagine all the attention identical triplet girls got. He *still* has feelings about their birth.

If it were me, I'd consult with a good child psychologist. Someone who works from a psychodynamic perspective, rather than a behavioral perspective, could be very helpful; it's the difference between being focused more on outward behavior versus what meaning your son is making of the triplets' birth. It may or may not be helpful, but it can't hurt. It looks like you're in California. If you happen to be in the SF Bay Area, I can give you several good referrals. (Used to be a psychologist before the twins.)
post #7 of 17
I have nothing helpful to add. I did want to send hugs and support. I'm also struggling with my oldest (3.5) and my little ones (6 mnts). It's not easy and it is the only thing that gets me worked up and makes me sad all at the same.
post #8 of 17
i would see a homeopath because that's my first practical line of recovery

my dd, (child 3), has always had jealous issues since her sister was born (child 4) and her behaviour towards her was awful when she thought i wasn;t looking. otherwise, this dd is the sweetest of human beings. lol. but when jealousy kicks in !!uh oh!!

anyway, i was wondering how it would be with the twins, and she's been just the same. i actually said yesterday to my dh - 'i think she's trying to kill them!!' because she puts them in really dangerous situations. sigh.

anyway, when it gets to that point i give her some pulsatilla, and it works. today we already have a more peaceful dd after her remedy yesterday. :

she reverts back to being a normal, loving child and sibling. lol.

honestly, the relief the first time round was incredible. i thought i had a little demon but she still has her angelic side too. phew.

it might be that he would respond like this however many you'd had, so don't assume it's just the triplet dynamic iyswim, although i know it must intensify everything, just as it does for us. but on another point, he's not been usurped by just one being to put all his aggression onto. it might have felt worse if it was all going onto one child??
or maybe he does have a least favourite??

oh, and siblings getting on takes a while you know - 'til they are all bonded and part of the same crew. so don't give up hope yet.
post #9 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thanks to you all for these helpful responses! I guess I am wondering if I should consult some sort of therapist. Thanks to F&Ps and HerGrace - I have been wondering if I should consult someone - maybe more to help me UNDERSTAND DS. I fell like if I understood him better - I would be able to put things more in context and respond more effectively - help him work through his emotions in a better way . ..

And Shukr - i WILL talk to my homeopath too - thanks for the reminder. And perhaps DS temperment is such that he would have had difficulty with the birth of any sib - you are right - he is very sensitive.

You know - being a MoM is SO HARD. Being a mom of HOMs + singletons is SO HARD. I just find myself looking at concerns with my kids and thinking - Its b/c of the triplets . . .or its b/c I was too short tempered and tired for too long when the triplets were little . . . or man - -how about the guilt that I couldn't give the kind of attention to the kids that they needed - there were just TOO MANY OF THEM . . .

Oh and all this while on another AP multiples board - I posted there also - an Amish woman suggested I send DS away before he mortally injure my LOs?? I'll try to shrug that one off . .

Thanks guys . . . . I totally appreciate your thoughtfulness
post #10 of 17
HI Trip -- I have 4 DC; the older 3 (age 5-9) fight a lot, too.
I have no solutions to it. I have tried lots of things to limit it, which is the best (eg, I tend to dock allowance or computer time of both perpetrators and plaintiffs). The eldest (now 9) in partic can be quite spiteful, but they are all delighted to get one up on any of the others.
Yesterday DC discovered pillow fighting. I hate our cushions so let them get on with it. I also warned them that I would tell nobody off no matter how rough their play, because they were willing participants. Weirdly, they played better than ever; because they were all playing for fun?? I really would like to understand it.

At one level I feel that sibing rivalry is normal. It's lots and lots of good quality practice at conflict resolution. The fact of it you mustn't dismay about, it's just the ways they express it that may need limit setting.

Have you read Siblings Without Rivalry by Faber & M-something? Lots of people find that useful.

Your profile suggests your trips are still quite little, are they Identical? I am closely related to several sets of identical twins; I hate to say this, but ID twins FIGHT like you would not believe; their rivalry (and their bond) is more intense than you can imagine.

I expect that you will find the triplets holding their own, forming temporary alliances and being quite vile back (at least on occasion) in the future. Yes being a Mom is very hard work!!
post #11 of 17
Thread Starter 
Cavy -

On vaca last week I just reread Siblings Without Rivalry . . . and wondered out loud to my DH what I was doing wrong implementing this that I still have so many issues. Than it occurred to me -- the problem is that SWR is great with how to resolve actual conflict - i.e. something tangible, the kids are fighting over a toy or something. SWR does NOT have much to say about general resentment - which is what I am dealing with often. There often is no real "conflict" to resolve - DS is just acting out at them b/c he resents them? I actually think the book referred me to seek a counselor for those issues?

But anyway - yes SWR does work great when I am dealing with actual, tangible, discrete conflict between siblings.
post #12 of 17
Do you verbally discuss your son's feelings with him? I don't know if it would help a little bit if you let him know that he has it tough, but also explain how it's not fair to the triplets for him to take it out on them.

I have two boys older than my twins, and they have a tendancy to be very physical with each other and the twins. I know that in this sort of context, a talk wouldn't solve everything, but I think it would help my oldest son a little. He's very big on fairness, and when he feels that's been violated toward him, he reacts a lot. But if he understands that tough as it is, it's not something they chose either, it might give him pause (and I'm sure we'd have the conversation with variations several times). I'd suggest to him that though it's tough, you know he's a tough boy, and if anyone can make the best of a tough situation, he can. Let him know that when he's feeling especially bad, he can come to you for hugs/tickles/talks. Help him feel like your special helper and praise him. Maybe even let him know that you might not have realized what a good helper he could be if you hadn't had triplets--you might never have asked him to get so many things for you. Perhaps you've tried all this, but I thought I'd throw it out there. Helping him to feel like an important team player might help him to resent them a little less.
post #13 of 17
SWR also works great when you can get just two children at a time - when you're balancing multiples and other children, (or any large family) it's not so clear how to go about things!!!!!!! do you see any three way dialogues in that book??

if you only have twins plus one other child - how often with that 'low key' scenario do you get only two children involved in a tiff - trips plus one......trips plus two etc etc........it's different dynamics.
post #14 of 17
i would see a homeopath because that's my first practical line of recovery shukr

I was just considering the same for my DD1 (homeopathy, that is). We have had incredible success with it, but it's unusual in the way that it works, and sometimes you don't really believe it's the remedy, but it sure has a high coincidence rate....
My DD1 seems to love the twins, but she also says things like, "I wish the twins were never born" and is CONSTANTLY seeking my attention. Unless she is with her home girls (friends she has known from birth), and man, it's crazy how she just forgets all about mama (to the point of it being ridiculous).
I don't know if there is an answer, but I was talking to a friend recently (who had an older and then twins), and she said it really is so hard on the older sib. It broke my heart to hear it, I knew it was true, though it's not the end of the story, IMO. I'm glad that I have given her siblings, and I do think it will bring her a richer life. Not to say that there isn't a LOT lost.
I feel for you on this one. There were many times this week I wish I could have consulted a therapist for her, but I do think that trying a homeopathic remedy would be helpful first. The intake alone on the remedy might be a healing process, for both you and your son.
post #15 of 17
I've been motivated by this thread to actually talk a little more explicitly with DS1 about how hard it is to be the big brother of triplet toddlers. It seemed to make a huge difference to his attitude yesterday.

I think it is easy to forget that it is an ongoing challenge and we can't just deal with it once and be done with it. We have to keep dealing with it.

DH and I have taken to acknowledging aloud to each other how hard it is at the end of every day. And, that makes it easier for us to see the good stuff. I've been forgetting that DS1 needs an opportunity to let his feelings out as much as we do.
post #16 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by michellyn View Post
Do you verbally discuss your son's feelings with him? I don't know if it would help a little bit if you let him know that he has it tough, but also explain how it's not fair to the triplets for him to take it out on them.

I have two boys older than my twins, and they have a tendancy to be very physical with each other and the twins. I know that in this sort of context, a talk wouldn't solve everything, but I think it would help my oldest son a little. He's very big on fairness, and when he feels that's been violated toward him, he reacts a lot. But if he understands that tough as it is, it's not something they chose either, it might give him pause (and I'm sure we'd have the conversation with variations several times). I'd suggest to him that though it's tough, you know he's a tough boy, and if anyone can make the best of a tough situation, he can. Let him know that when he's feeling especially bad, he can come to you for hugs/tickles/talks. Help him feel like your special helper and praise him. Maybe even let him know that you might not have realized what a good helper he could be if you hadn't had triplets--you might never have asked him to get so many things for you. Perhaps you've tried all this, but I thought I'd throw it out there. Helping him to feel like an important team player might help him to resent them a little less.
Thanks for this response. I have definitely tried talking to him over the years . . . but this is a great tact you have thought up. I WILL try this. DS is pretty closed off emotionally. I am not sure whether this is just who he is or if this is b/c of the family dynamic? That is the problem with this dynamic I guess -- I will forever second guess myself that every problem wouldn't have been there if we hadn't had the triplets? Not that I regret the triplets at all - I DON'T - I guess I just never anticipated this scenario - and how unmanageable/unresolvable its been over the years - despite so many books, classes, strategies, etc . to try and turn it around.
post #17 of 17
We went through this with our older daughter. But at one point you have to draw the line. We were so worried about giving her attention that I think she started to feel like she was entitled to more of us than the twins. Like she deserved a special spot in the family or something. So when they were two years old we cut the extra attention. We started treating them more or less all the same and kept stressing "This family is a team. We all have to try to keep each other happy by being kind and loving". We let the kids play without us more, trusted them to work things out amongst themselves while keeping an ear out for conflicts that were too much for them to deal with. We tried to do a lot of family activities all together that they could all enjoy (walks, hikes, movie theatre, swimming, soccer, family dance parties). And it worked. Sometimes we don't give our kids enough credit and we are actually hindering them in being more mature and taking more responsibility. Also help them see that being a big brood can be a lot of fun. That was the case with us at least.
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