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Sibling Bullying

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  • Sibling Bullying

    I just dont know where to turn. Its getting really, really bad around here and I am seriously considering more punitive measures as gentle discipline is JUST NOT WORKING.

    Background - DS3 is bullying his sister DD1. Very physical mean bullying. I HATE typing that about my lovely sweet boy, who for the most part is just stunning.... BUT when it comes to his sister he is a mean, bullying little boy which is SO out of character. Like today he pushed her face into the little trampoline, held her there while climbing on her back and then started bouncing on her. She was SCREAMING and he was laughing.... I was running to save her and got to them pretty quickly, but she was so upset. She is actually scared of him at the moment and winces when he comes near her. I cannot leave them alone together or she gets beaten up. But neither of them will let the other be alone with me.... its impossible.

    So at the moment we are doing NVC (I am new to it so make some mistakes). For every other situation it works really well with DS3, he responds well and for most situations has started to model it back to us too, which is great.... when it comes to his sister he turns a deaf ear. We have tried to take more of a playful approach and find him something else to do.... no dice.... he seems to just WANT to hurt her. I try and get alone time with him, but it does SEEM to be related to jealousy. We talk about his feelings and how frustrating it must be etc and he shrugs and says he likes to hear her cry.....????? I could just cry myself.

    I am lost. I really thought I could do this without time outs or some other form of punishment. I REALLY WANT TO! But I just cannot put up with the bullying. I will NOT allow my daughter to be treated like this, even if its from someone who I love just as much as her!!!!

    What do I do? I know its normal behavior for a three year old..... the thing that gets me is that when it comes to OTHER children he can be very empathetic, well beyond his years. When it comes to his sister he just becomes mean!

  • #2
    This sounds like such a tough situation! I agree with protecting your daughter, and it's clear that you also want to honor your son.

    My first thought is to look at Siblings Without Rivalry. They use NVC in their approach, and I think they go into very similar situations to what you describe. Have you read it?

    Wishing you peace,


    • #3
      I can relate

      I am going through the same EXACT situation right now. My older son is a month shy of 3 and younger son is 9 months. I have tried everything as well. He head butts him, kicks him, shoves his head down, rams toys into him etc. It breaks my heart! I too am struggling with my discipline methods. I have used timeout a few times and it does not work I have used time in it does not work. He too is such a sweet empathetic boy to other children and other situations. I am at a loss I have been given lots of advice from he will outgrow it. Spend one on one time... etc. Does anyone have any tips?

      I was told by a child development specialist that that is the highest compliment because your oldest son is so bonded with you this is how he is reacting in jealousy. At that age they are not capable of processing the emotions they are feeling. I think other parents who may not have a good bond with their child. By not a good bond I mean maybe they do not co-sleep or formula feed or their children are at daycare most of the day. Maybe they are not experiencing that level of jealousy because their attachment is not that strong. Just a thought.


      • #4
        AwakenedMama - Thank you for the recommendation! I will get into the library and find the book. Sounds great.

        Kaspirilla - Thats a really comforting thought thanks. Its so hard not to take it personally! I have been going through everything and trying to work out where I am going wrong!

        I dont know, I knew it was going to be hard at times having a small age gap, but I really thought that parenting the way we are would take some of the sting out of things like sibling rivalry. Instead I have two children who are both very protective of ME and trying to juggle them both while neither of them are really old enough to understand that sometimes I have to look after the other one too.

        Thank you for your responses.