Siblings arguing/fighting??? — The Bump
Pre-School

Siblings arguing/fighting???

How would you handle your 4 year old (birthday 01/26), fighting with your almost 2 year old. The fighting seems to be escalating. They are both girls. The oldest has started to snatch toys or other things away from the two year old and LOVES to boss her around. Typical I know, and she is put in time out for snatching things away from her.  Hitting is a new thing and I am not sure how to handle it. Yesterday, they were eating apple slices and the younger one took an apple slice off of the older ones plate. The older one tackled her and was sitting on her, hitting her on the back (hard). I was speechless. I grabbed her up and put her immediately into time out and afterwards made her apologize to her sister and then took her into another room and talked to her. But, I am curious how others handle these situations. I want to do what is effective and appropriate for a just turned 4 year old. Thank you.
Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ~ Elizabeth Stone
"Don't marry a man unless you would be PROUD to have a son exactly like him." ~ Unknown

Re: Siblings arguing/fighting???

  • DD2 (almost 2yo) is the bully in our house so I'm enforcing time-out and tell her why she's there. She understands more than she can speak.

    When DD1 bullies, I will stop the behavior and tell her it's not nice. Then we focus on words we can use instead of physical force. "My feelings are hurt when you do___.  Can we share the toy? When you are finished with the toy may I play with it"

    Mommy of two girls: DD1 4/14/9 DD2 4/15/11
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  • Auntie, I am the oldest.
    Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ~ Elizabeth Stone
    "Don't marry a man unless you would be PROUD to have a son exactly like him." ~ Unknown
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  • I find wine for mom to be the solution to things like this.

    Wine and bedtime.

    promised myself I'd retire when I turned gold, and yet here I am
  • We haven't gotten to the fighting point yet but I put a lot of responsibility on the older one. I constantly tell him how he's the bigger brother and he knows better and the little one is just starting to learn and we have to teach him how to behave. I think you need to teach your older one how to react to when the little one does things she doesn't like. I think they know what to do in preschool or if their friend's take something of theirs but with siblings, there is such a physical closeness and presence that you older one may not know what's appropriate and how to react.  Her physical attack was obviously over the top and not how to react.  It isn't about fighting back but about TEACHING the little one not to do that and then go tell Mom. Then, you want to constantly praise when the older one does something helpful or teaching to the younger one and reward that behavior. DS1 never questions when I ask to do things for DS2. It is just the set standard now. It may not be "fair" per se, but it give DS1 a sense of feeling like the big boy. Then, we have lots of moments where we do things (like stay up late and watch a movie with mommy and daddy) where I remind DS1 that he gets to do special things like that because he's not a baby and he's the big brother. That sort of thing.

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  • Although my DD1 hasn't gotten quite as aggressive (yet), we are in a similar situation. 

    For the bossing, I remind her that I'm the mom, but DD1 doesn't really "get" that yet, so it doesn't work too well.

    For grabbing, I take away the item that is being grabbed and put it away for a while.

    For physical aggression, DD1 goes straight to time out. I tried talking to her about it, asking her why she does it, telling her it hurts her sister, etc., but that doesn't work. I don't think the time out is working that well either, but I don't really have another solution.

    Sorry I'm not much help! 



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  • I'm glad you asked this question.  My girls are about the same age and are driving me insane today.  I just put them down for a nap an hour early.

    I have no advice, but the one suggestion was pretty fabulous.

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  • LAst year we started a "Kindness Cash" chart.  When I caught one doing something kind for anyone, I'd tell them and put a hash mark under the name.  I would explain- "I saw that when your sister needed help with her coat, you stopped and zipped it.  That helped me because I was busy letting the dog out, that helped her because she needs to be warm.  I love when you are kind to eachother."

    This made a huge impact.  THen I started only "noticing" acts in problem areas.  Whenever anyone reaches 100, they pick a charity to donate $100.  We did two cycles.  At times it seemed like they were focused on getting noticed doing nice things, so now, on the third cycle, it is a big chart that is a group effort. 

    This is not to say we don't have arguments.  DD#1 has bosssy girls at school and will come home and practice (it's a co-op and I watch her observe/experience it then go home and try it on the twins).  I just interrupt her and say "Nope.  try again."  I've been using that since before she was two to correct whining, arguing, ordering. 

    Our house rules are 1. Kind hands and feet. 2. Kind voice.  3. Kind words.  Until recently, violation of 1 was always immediate TO and the only thing for TO.  I would pick the child up quickly but no verbal interaction and deposit in timeout.  Then I went to the victim, and would give a snuggle and brief apology- "I'm sorry sister bear used mean hands.  It never feels good to be hurt- boy she must have been angry!" and walk away or move on to the next activity.   I now use that for handsy nudge/shove and enforce a long painful apology to process (after TO)  why they went to timeout:  "I am sorry I shoved you.  I was angry and used my hands but should have walked away.  Shoving is what toddlers and bullies do.  Are you okay?"  They hate this part but if they whine or sass through it, they return to time out.  It is really important to me to have this skill before releasing them to kindergarten where I won't be able to go through negative interactions with them to help them be genuine and caring.

    Tae Kwon Do has made a HUGE impact on DD#1's confidence and patience with the twins.  They work on the physical skills but also have talks about good character.  She takes those to heart. 

    All and all it's a phase, and will sort out, I'm sure.  Good luck!!

    If you really want to be happy, no one can stop you.

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