I have a lovely 8 yo DS and a lovely 3 yo DS, but their relationship is driving me crazy. My 8 yo is constantly picking on his brother. This morning my 3 yo was reading a book from the library that his brother wanted, so he asked for it and my 3 yo told him he could have it when he was done. My 8yo called him mean and grabbed it out of his hands. I am so sick of the 'you're mean' phrase being said in the house. Every time I hear it there are consequences, but it still comes up. I tried explaining to my 8 yo that he needs to show his caring, compassionate side to his brother and that not just the outside world. It has become an issue because I feel like he doesn't treat his brother well in front of his friends and in turn they are not always as nice as they should be. It actually makes me see red to think about it. A neighbor kid will come over and they play tag with my youngest, but he is always it and all they do is run away from him. My youngest has a great attitude and will go along with it for awhile and then decides he doesn't want to play anymore. I tell my oldest that the way he treats his brother will be the way others treat him. He nods and says he knows, but then I don't see any change and a morning like this morning happens. When these things happen, I honestly feel like throwing away all of his toys, books and activities along with not allowing friends over or anything fun at all. I hold back on these urges obviously, but this is how frustrated I get. I feel like I am so in the thick of it and drowning in it and I could really use some outside advice on how others have dealt with this and how I can get over this bump without losing my mind. Thanks!
I'd suggest not critisizing him for a while but
encourage him to be a white knight that defends
his little brother.
Does your older have a superhero he admires?
I'm sure that superhero protects the less powerful.
You might tell him how you would defend him
against anyone (including the archrival of any
potential superheroes and his or her sisters
and brothers) bigger than him who was mean
to him. You've loved him when you carried him
inside and you love him now and you would
defend him against anyone or anything.
He's gradually growing to be a man; to being
someone who can help you defend his little
brother; a brother you also carried and who like
him is dearer to you than life itself. When he
is good to his little brother he's your superhero
and it is like warm sunshine to you.
I always remind my older DD that her younger sister will learn so many things from her. She'll learn how to be a sister and a friend. All the good things about her she'll learn. She'll learn how to treat other people by how she's treated. It's really a big responsibility to be an older sibling. It's a beautiful relationship and all the crud about this is just how siblings are is BULL to me. My girls are fiesty but I don't allow them to treat each other badly. That doesn't mean they don't try.
I would address his feelings and then let him know how important he really is to his little brother.
I have two boys who are 8 (last week) and 2 1/2, so pretty close to yours, and I have the same problems with Milo treating Augie badly at home. (When we're around other kids, Milo is insanely protective of Augie and will freak out on any kid who looks at Aug the wrong way, which always surprises me. So we don't have the larger social issue you're talking about.)
I have told Milo on numerous occasions that when he was a toddler (and even now) I would have *never* allowed anyone to speak to him the way he speaks to Augie and it's not fair to Augie to have someone breathing down his neck that way. I've also tried to tell him that Augie looks up to him and models his behavior after him and is going to start treating him badly, too -- which is already happening, of course. I point out over and over and over again that Augie is only 2 1/2, but Milo isn't moved by any of it.
I try not to get on Milo about it when Augie is actually being difficult. Like, I don't want him to feel like Augie has pushed his buttons and then I've gotten angry at him for it. But I am pretty vigilant about letting him know I disapprove when Augie isn't poking at him. I also try to minimize the likelihood of Augie driving him crazy -- so I moved their carseats apart, for example.
Nothing I'm doing works for any period of time, though.