I just finished the awesome class by Jane Nelsen….wonderful!
I’m wondering if you can point me somewhere to help me find a solution to one of the key issues in our house. My older son antagonizes his younger brother to the point of explosion. He makes faces, comments, sounds, etc. It sets the three year old off. The older one is getting a payoff, the younger one seems too young to understand it and learn how to ignore/deal with it. I need help!
One other issue….each child will echo something I say to the other one. For example….I’ll say, “Andrew, please chew with your mouth closed.” Matthew will say, “Yeah, chew with your mouth closed!” They set each other off and it sets me off and none of that is good. Again, any resource or book that you can point me towards?! Thank you so much, this summer is so fun and giving me more gray hairs all at once.
I love the last line of the your letter. It describes not just the summer but parenting in general. It is so much fun but gives us gray hairs all at once!
Welcome to the world of sibling rivalry!
All those behaviors that you are describing in the first part of your letter, sound like teasing to me. Older siblings love to tease their younger siblings and vice versa.
Here are a couple of my thoughts:
1.It is normal:
Teasing is just one of those things that happens between siblings and you are probably going to hear a lot of it. I just have to say this so you know it is completely normal. Annoying, sometimes heartbreaking, but normal.
2. You want to give information:
“Teasing hurts feelings.”
This should be your mantra! You might want to say it along with taking a few deep calming yoga breaths.
Now this phrase will not completely stop the teasing but it helps you avoid lecturing, defending the younger child (which only infuriates the older child more) and yelling. You can hope that down the line it will penetrate their conscience and it will become part of their moral code. It will hopefully be the voice they hear in their head.
Now your son, if he is smart and he sounds like he is, might respond:
“What? What was I doing? I was only looking at him etc. etc.”
You can then give him some more information:
“Oh, I just want to let you know that teasing can come in all different forms. It can be making faces, comments, sounds etc. In all those different ways teasing can hurt or sometimes it can just annoy.”
3. You will also want to build up your younger child by saying:
“Teasing can hurt so much. It can make you feel very sad. You can handle it. You can say, ‘Don’t tease me. I don’t like it!’ Sometimes it can also help you if you walk away.”
You don’t want to say, “Just ignore it!” because they usually can’t. Instead you can try saying:
“Teasing hurts and it can make you so mad. Sometimes it helps, if you make a face like you don’t care. That sometimes makes the other person stop teasing.”
Again, you can say this to him, but he might not act upon it. Again, you are hopeful that it will slowly penetrate his psyche one day he will actually use this to help him deal with the teasing.
4. You can step in and say neutrally:
“I hear lots of teasing going on. I think it is time to play separately or else feelings are going to be hurt.”
Now for when the kids acts as a third parent. We have exactly the same problem in our home.
In our house it sounds like this:
Me: “C. shower time!”
D. (the older brother): “Yeh, C it is shower time. You need to go take a shower!”
So I have 2 tactics:
1. When I have to admonish or correct kids I try to whisper in their ear, or pull them aside.
2. When that is not possible. I say:
“D, I appreciate your help. I can handle this though. C. needs to hear directions from me. Hearing it from you, makes him angry.”
So again, it will not stop the behavior but it is a neutral and non-confrontational way to deal with it.
For more help, you might want to check out our audio:
Here is a 50% off coupon code:
You can also get the book “Siblings Without Rivalry” by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. It is the best one out there on this topic.
I hope this helped! Keep me posted!