Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Vancouver Island, Canada
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My daughter is 5.5. Recently we've been having a problem with her teasing her younger brother (he's 3.5). She gets into ridiculous arguments with him designed to drive him crazy. If he wins a game, she boos him. If he loses she cheers. She taunts him with subjects she knows will elicit a reaction. She flat out insults him, calling him names. She laughs when he reacts.
This doesn't happen all the time, of course. They have plenty of good interactions. But these teasing sessions are happening every day and I'm at a loss as to how to deal with it.
I don't think it's fair to subject my son to her taunting. I'm concerned about his self-esteem, etc. It also doesn't help that he screeches when he cries, which gives his father and I a headache.
I try talking with her, but to no avail. In fact the more I object the worse it gets. A typical situation results in me dragging her out of the room and putting her in her bedroom, telling her to stay there until she can be more respectful of others in the family. I hate doing this. It doesn't fit with my values to punish. The mama bear in me finally loses it when I see how upset he's getting.
I'm at my wits end as to how to deal with it better. It's not fair to let her sit there and tease him. But there are times when removing her from the room isn't an option, such as when we are in the car. And even when I can remove her from the room it feels forceful and results in her screaming and yelling and the two of us end up in a fight.
I suspect that, at these times, she needs to get engaged in something more productive but I don't think rewarding this behaviour with direct attention from me is the right way to go. So while I could end it by suggesting we colour or play a game, that just doesn't seem right to me (and it's truly hard for me to be genuine about it, since it's the last thing I feel like doing). I try suggesting that she do something else but that generally seems to make her even more determined to stay put and make trouble.
I'd appreciate any suggestions as to how to deal with these moments when they happen. TIA.