I am the youngest of 3, and my two siblings were 5 and 6 years older than me. While they did not beat me up, I was belittled a lot, corrected a lot, and treated sort of like a cute but dumb kid a lot. As an adult I have always gravitated to other youngest children (I also married one!) and very much dislike being "bossed" or controlled or told what to do. If I sense a superior-inferior dynamic in a relationship, I am outta there.
There were so many other issues in my family that this sib stuff has always seemed minor. Still, it is obvious to me that it's affecting my parenting negatively. I don't know how to process this and it's also hard for me to discern what is "okay" sib fighting and what is bullying. DH has similar issues, so he is no help.
grateful mother to DD, 1/04, and DS, 2/08
I deal with the same issue. My girls are also 4 years apart (they're 9 and 5) and my older dd can be so obnoxious. She's always correcting dd2 and pretending not to understand her if she doesn't pronounce a word perfectly. It doesn't help that dd2 is a very sweet and loving girl so it really gets my back up to here her treated unfairly. DD1 also reacts very strongly to small things. For example, if dd1 draws a picture for dd2 to color, but dd2 doesn't want to color it at that moment, dd1 will wail about hating little sisters and how she wishes we had never had her, etc.
I was a little sister and I married a man who was a little brother so it makes for an interesting dynamic at home, lol! I tend to speak up for dd2 a lot because I don't want her to think that she really is dumb and annoying all the time. It's hard not to stand up for dd2 since there's such a big age gap and it's really not fair for a 9 year old to push a 5 year old around. As they both age, I hope things level out a bit more.
I'm a youngest as well. But I'm not sure you need to have sibling issues to be really bothered by this. I think this sibling dynamic is common is just really tough.
I read Siblings Without Rivalry: How to Help Your Children Live Together So You Can Live Too
Someone moved my effing cheese.
I read Siblings Without Rivalry too and found it helpful, also liked Mom, Jason's Breathing on Me! (or something like that) by Anthony Wolf to be very helpful. I was the abusive older sister and still found myself wanting to stick up for my little one all the time, even though I remember how bad it feels to be always clobbered by responsibility and criticism from parents who put the older one in charge of the sibling relationship. Faber/Mazlish's thing about letting the kids complain about each other to you has been terrifically helpful around here. It lets them get their stress out without taking it out on each other. I also like Wolf's idea to step away from the fighting until it starts bothering you. And I love his idea to avoid blaming one kid or the other: 'kids! stop smacking each other! We don't smack people in this family!' or 'Girls! We share our toys!' even when it is very clearly DD2 doing all the smacking, or DD1 who is taunting DD2 with a toy... That part was genius, because I was the kid who always got shouted at and my sister never did - I just was meaner to her in private when the parents weren't watching. It is a huge relief to me to put the burden on both of them. I frequently shout 'work it out, girls!' from the other room, and then occasionally I help them work it out, always together, never blaming one or the other or telling just one kid what to do.