older child teasing younger sibling - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 5 Old 03-23-2008, 03:22 PM - Thread Starter
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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.

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#2 of 5 Old 03-23-2008, 11:47 PM
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we have a lot of those moments, too. I am not saying what I do will fix the problem but this is how we are handling it.

We are trying to teach her about how her actions affect other people.
So we are doing good deeds when we can.
Then we discuss how the deed affected someone. How that person felt before and after.
When the taunting comes up I remind her how her actions and words affect people and how does she think Michael feels being taunted and harassed (BTW...in the moment this is usually met with, "I don't care")
Later on we can discuss it with more clarity but I like to get that seed planted.

Sometimes I will ask her why she is mad at Michael. The answers are generally based in jealousy. She might say, "I don't like his cute face" Which takes every once of strength not to laugh or she will say, "I don't like him looking at me"

I general I find 2 reasons for the taunting...she is jealous of him for being little and the other she is genuinely mad at him.

When she is mad at him for some action and then she keeps at it with the taunting I remind her that she may say,
"Michael I am angry at you for throwing that water bottle at me"
but under no circumstances can she threaten or taunt.
when all else fails I tell her she can go into her room and talk to her dolls that but she may not speak to her brother that way.

In the car just stinks b/c there is so little to be done b/c the taunting makes the one kid scream and so you can't even be heard to talk.

Do you have any music CDs that you can pop in for the car just to take the edge of the scene until you can discuss it at home?

I am sure someone will come along with some great advice that I can use , too but for now that's all I have.

It's nice to see you Piglet68.

The first rule of homeschooling: water the plants! :
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#3 of 5 Old 03-24-2008, 12:03 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks, hipumpkins. It's nice to know I'm not alone.

She doesn't seem to be mad at him when this happens. I've seen her when she's mad and it's generally done with yelling, name-calling, and expressions of anger. The cases I'm referring to seem more out of boredom...like she has nothing better to do than harass him.

I've tried emphasizing how it makes him feel. I get the same reaction as you do ("he likes it, ha ha ha!"). In her heart and mind she knows this isn't the case. I get the feeling she really doesn't mean him any malice, but she's finding this "game" fun and she can't stop herself for his sake.

We've spoken alot about the Golden Rule. I tend to ramble on with her, so I'm trying to keep it simple. Ultimately she knows this behaviour is not okay, and deep down she doesn't want to hurt her brother, it's like a switch is on and she can't turn it off.

Good suggestion about the car. I keep forgetting we do have some kids' CD's in there, and I'm sure it would work to divert them.

At home I need to find some way to help her shut it off and move on to something else...

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#4 of 5 Old 03-24-2008, 04:15 PM
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We have a lot of the same issues going on with my two kids. Just wanted to jump in with a car idea that is working for us.

To head off the fighting I say, "Let's play the veggie game" (or the fruit or the animal game)

One of us thinks of a veggie and describes it, "It's long, green, has seeds and a skin..." and the others try to guess which veggie it is. Then the next person thinks of one and describes it. Sometimes we play 20 questions with the secret veggie: "Is it green?" "Does it have seeds?" "Do I like to eat it, Mama?"

Then we switch it up to animals and fruits. The kids love this, it gets their minds going, and doesn't distract me while I'm driving.

Also, I wrote a blog entry about getting my kids back to a state of love. This might help you too. Good luck cuz I'm right there with you.
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#5 of 5 Old 03-24-2008, 04:55 PM
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We have many of the same issues here.

I agree that attention or games after the bickering has started seems like rewarding inappropriate behaviour, but how about heading it off at the pass? One of the things that I realized about my DS (8) and DD (5) was the DD did get a lot more attention because she is small and cute. And she gets more help from me because she's younger. So I have to make a particular point to give DS lots of attention, especially physical hugs and such. But I do this BEFORE he gets jealous of his sister, so its not rewarding anything.

I also work on prevention a lot. Lots of activities, lots of choices, several different places to play. When they start bickering, I can then separate them without it really being a punishment -- more like "The taunting is not nice. Please play in separate rooms until you can get along". Or, more directed "DS, please play outside for a while".

Its almost always worse at our house when things like sleep and food schedules have gotten off kilter, or I am stressed about something else. Check the basics and fix anything that needs to be addressed. I think we forget to do that as our kids get older.
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