Do you allow siblings to talk about hurting each other? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 8 Old 06-03-2011, 06:32 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My ds just turned six, and he generally gets along with his two-year-old sister okay.  But it seems like every day he makes comments like, "I wish A. were dead" or "I'd like to kill A."

 

Now that I've typed that out, it looks really disturbing, but ds is really a sweet kid, his teachers always comment on how nice he is to everyone, he always takes interest in young toddlers at the playground and plays with them.  And he's often affectionate with his sister, but I think sometimes he just gets very frustrated.  I do talk to him about why he's frustrated with her behavior (like if she's grabbing his toys). That helps diffuse the immediate situation, but the comments just start up again another day.

 

I have tried to make a rule that we don't talk about wishing people were dead.  But I don't really have a way of enforcing this rule.  And I'm having a hard time balancing the idea that negative feelings are natural versus the idea that fantasizing about violence towards real people is not okay.

 

Can someone help me out here?


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#2 of 8 Old 06-03-2011, 06:36 PM
 
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Honestly, if my 6 year old was saying things like that about my 2 year old, I'd be taking him to therapy to try to flesh out where that anger is coming from, before he acted on it.  In fact, if my 6yo said those things about anyone, I'd probably do the same thing.


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#3 of 8 Old 06-03-2011, 06:49 PM
 
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I think i'd start by rephrasing what you think he really means.  Is he mad b/c she took a toy, bothering him, etc?  I'd say, "you're irritated b/c your sister is bothering you", or whatever else it may be.  He may also need some extra one on one time.


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#4 of 8 Old 06-03-2011, 06:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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The thing is, it's not like he's furious and seething when he says it, and he doesn't generally hit her or hurt her physically.  Like I said, they generally get along.  I think maybe he doesn't grasp the seriousness of what he's saying.  I'm not sure if I need to ban these words from our house, or if I need to read between the lines and figure out what he's really trying to say. Does that make any sense?


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#5 of 8 Old 06-06-2011, 12:46 PM
 
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We have this problem as well, where she will say 'I wish sister was not part of our family'  'I wish she wasn't my sister' 'I want you to love me more than her' 'She is an idiot' etc. I don't think we have ever gotten to the point of 'I want to kill her' but I certainly remember feeling things like that as a kid (fwiw I have a great relationship with my sister now). It's hard because I do get where those feelings are coming from BUT she needs to learn more appropriate ways to express those feelings (especially when her sister is there), and it is very hurtful for us to hear her say them. I think we are always trying to get her to rephrase it to It makes me mad when X happens. But I think too we are at the point where she needs to understand that she has to find more acceptable ways of expressing valid emotions. 

 

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#6 of 8 Old 06-06-2011, 07:07 PM
 
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Would you take him to therapy before trying to find out the reason yourself? Why not talk to the child directly first? My first thought is what I learned in the P.E.T. book, I think it was, where you rephrase what you THINK the child is trying to express (because frequently they do not fully understand the implications of the words they have chosen). I've read that kids say they want to kill others but only because that is the strongest angry-word they know. They have no idea what "kill" really means--i.e. it means gone FOREVER--because frankly they don't even really get concepts like "forever" yet, so how could they.

 

And to the other question, I'd never outright ban something like this, because the words are just a symptom of the feeling. I'd work at what he's feeling and where it's coming from, and defuse it that way. Banning the words sort of pushes the strong feelings underground, wouldn't you say? It's better they stay in the open where you can see and deal with them.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bokonon View Post

Honestly, if my 6 year old was saying things like that about my 2 year old, I'd be taking him to therapy to try to flesh out where that anger is coming from, before he acted on it.  In fact, if my 6yo said those things about anyone, I'd probably do the same thing.



 

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#7 of 8 Old 06-06-2011, 08:45 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NellieKatz View Post


Would you take him to therapy before trying to find out the reason yourself? Why not talk to the child directly first? 


 



Of course I would.  But I would be so alarmed and worried about that kind of talk that I would want professional assistance in dealing with it.  I have a 6 year old and a 2 year old, and if the 6yo started saying things like that about his sister, I wouldn't waste time in getting to the bottom of it and figuring out how to make the situation more livable for all involved.

 

My 6 year old most definitely knows what "kill" and "dead" mean, as do most 6 year olds I know.  


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#8 of 8 Old 06-07-2011, 05:53 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NicaG View Post

The thing is, it's not like he's furious and seething when he says it, and he doesn't generally hit her or hurt her physically.  Like I said, they generally get along.  I think maybe he doesn't grasp the seriousness of what he's saying.  I'm not sure if I need to ban these words from our house, or if I need to read between the lines and figure out what he's really trying to say. Does that make any sense?


Saying something like that when not seething or furious seems like a big red flag.  If he were speaking out of serious anger in the moment then that would be understandable.  I think you need to sit down with just him and tell him you notice he is saying that he wants to kill her a lot lately and ask him why, then truly listen without trying to come up with solutions until he is done telling you why.  After you listen I think you should empathize, tell him why it is such a serious phrase to use, then ask him to help you come up with solutions to help him find other phrases.  You should also offer him solutions after empathizing if there is something you can do to alleviate his anger towards her.  If that doesn't help alleviate the problem then I think you should really take him in for counseling.  Initially I thought counseling was a silly idea, but that was before you posted that he isn't doing this out of obvious fury.

 

A couple of thoughts, I remember feeling like that when I was furious and really wanted space.  I needed time alone a lot but wasn't always able to identify and express my need.  If he needs more time to be himself away from her that may be something to look into giving him.  I also had a hard time expressing my anger because I wanted to be the good older sibling so when I spoke in inappropriate ways without seeming furious my anger wasn't recognized and acknowledged.  By the time I got to obvious anger I was beyond being able to control it because there was so much that wasn't being acknowledged.  If you think something like that may be going on then helping him learn to understand that it is okay to express anger and teaching him how to express it may help. 

 

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