child against child

Veronica - posted on 07/06/2011 ( 20 moms have responded )

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So - My 8 year old daughter is a huge helper with the younger children, and so is my 7 year old son -- they are great with helping with chores, playing with the little ones, and helping with a diaper change, or even feeding the one year old.

However, now they think that because they do these things, and are responsible in a lot of ways - that they can also discipline the younger children - they've even gone as far as spanking my 4 and 3 year old!! I discuss with them that my husband and I are the only ones who discipline any of them -- but its not registering -- Im unsure of what to do to make them understand better and leave this up to mom and dad, instead of them taking it into their own hands.
I do not feel that they have too much responsibilities either -- they love playing with and helping mommy care for the little ones - and I have NO problem with them helping out - they are learning great skills for later in life. I just need some suggesstions on how to seperate it being ok to help the little ones, but not go as far as thinking they now have the right or upperhand to take matters of discipline in their own hands --- thanks for any advice or help in advance --

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Mary - posted on 07/07/2011

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Children do mimic the behavior they see repetitively from the adults in their lives. I've overheard my daughter (2.5) tell both the dogs, and her stuffed animals "Don't _____ - it's not nice!". When we were at the library yesterday, a little girl swatted her brother. Molly marched up to her, and said sternly "Don't hit him! That's not nice!". I almost peed myself laughing. However, she has heard this a gazillion times from me and her father when she gets frustrated with the dogs and swats at them. As well, small children relish the opportunity to be the boss, and exert control over anyone and anything. You, as the parent, exert control over them, and they want to do the same to someone else. It's only natural that they are going to do this to their younger siblings, and in the same fashion in which they see you and your husband disciplining them.

I'm not going to get into the whole spanking debate; your methods of discipline are your business, and as a mother of only one, I can't begin to lecture you on how to parent your six. I can say that that you need to realize that however you discipline the older ones is something they are going to try to do with their younger siblings. If you were a huge time-out parent, your 7 y/o would probably be trying to send your 3 y/o to time out.

Tara - posted on 07/07/2011

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I also have 6 as you probably know. I also know what it is like to have little helpers in the home.
My kids also help out, they all have chores and responsibilities. They help keep the house clean and they help each other when needed. My youngest is 18 months and the next one up is 6. So my two older girls, 11 and almost 9 will do more for the younger ones. They help to feed the toddler, by making sure he doesn't dump his meal for the dogs, my 11 year old likes to have a bath with him and wash and dress him. They don't do poopy diapers and I would never make them. Although when I had stitches a few weeks back the oldest helped with the poopy ones.


As for discipline, the girls know what to do before coming to me. They will give a warning, something like "Aila, mom said not to turn the volume up on the TV, turn it back down or you won't be allowed to watch."
If she doesn't than she would say "Aila this is your last chance before I get mom".

So if she comes to get me, than Aila will not be allowed to watch TV. She will be told that the rules are the same when I'm not in the room and if Alyssa reminds her of the rules than she needs to listen to her like she would listen to me.

We don't spank and rarely use time out, we actually don't punish much at all. We don't have a real need.
Riley is just a toddler so does a lot of things that his sisters don't particularly like. They know how to distract, re-direct and speak to him to get results. And anything they can't handle they know they are to come to be or call for me if I'm in another room and they can't leave him (or can't get away cause he is sitting on their head and pulling their hair). But like us they do tell him firmly "Ouch that hurts when you pull my hair." even the 6 year does that, they are all understanding that he is learning and that we treat others how we wish to be treated.

I would suggest giving the kids some other tools that are appropriate for them, perhaps some words, warnings they can use for the younger kids. And maybe you could list things they can deal with but list others that are strictly just for mom and dad.
And I agree with Mary that kids will do what they see. I guess that's why it's not much of a problem here. There isn't anything that an older one could do or say to a younger one that wouldn't be appropriate based on how they are parented.

JuLeah - posted on 07/06/2011

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I think it is great they help, are responsibile, enjoy the younger children!



And, the only skills and tools they have to deal with behaviors are what you have taught them; bigger people hit little people.



They were hit, they see you hit ... how can they work with the little ones if they don't hit?



Maybe if you showed them, taught them, different ways of interacting?

Amie - posted on 07/07/2011

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Mine don't tattle on each other, now. It was a challenge to teach the older ones when it's appropriate to come get us though.

If you are arguing - don't bother us. You can work it out. In the event that it gets really heated and you can't - walk away. If we have to intervene - guess who gets to do extra chores or sit in time out (depending on what happened).
If someone is doing something they should not be doing but it's not dangerous - remind them of what they should be doing. If they don't quit, then tell us.
If someone is doing something dangerous - no warnings, come tell us.

Tattling is trying to get the other one in trouble. If you are concerned for them because of safety or they are not following house rules after a warning, then it's not tattling. That's how we explained it to our kids. We sometimes ask them too, after they come to us, if they're tattling or concerned. It makes them think about it and has helped them learn the difference.

Now if I could just get our oldest to stop screeching whenever the little ones get into her room and mess it up. I know I yell when they're all making a ruckus and I need to be heard but good grief. There's no reason to scream the house down - lock your door. That's why we bought it for you.

Amie - posted on 07/06/2011

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Their job is to help not hinder. They should be able to understand this. They are old enough.

Our oldest (11) very rarely tries to discipline ours in any way. She does yell at them from time to time, for the vast majority of that time it's because they've touched something of hers or gone in her room.

Anytime she steps out of line though, she's the one that ends up getting corrected - not the little ones. We do correct the little ones but after we've dealt with the older one. When they are the ones getting "in trouble", they learn to turn their behavior around. They are not the parents and have no place to be dealing out any sort of consequence.

It would be doubly worse for them if they even tried to enforce time out, took away privileges and lord help them if they thought hitting each other was acceptable.

Don't focus on the little ones and what they're doing "wrong" (though don't ignore it either) but in those moments - the big kids really need to be the ones corrected with consequences. They are the ones stepping farther out of line than the little ones.

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Ella - posted on 07/08/2011

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I dont have as many kids as you Veronica so obviously I dont quite know what you are going through but my older one does try to sort of tell the other one off, but not enough to be a problem. I explain that its my job not hers. shes never tried to smack her though

Tara - posted on 07/07/2011

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That's not true Melissa, there is no violence in my home. I lead by example and so do my kids. And in a family, each person should feel a sense of responsibility for helping each other to learn the ropes so to speak. They are teaching their siblings the things they know are needed to thrive in a family unit.

Following the rules and suffering the consequences if you don't. That is a rule for everyone, so those that have learned them can remind those that haven't. And when needed they can ensure that corrections are made so that the younger kids know that there no exceptions to the rules, everyone is responsible for reminding and adhering to them.

Kids can learn to live together happily without a ton of conflict as long as their are rules and boundaries that respect everyone, all without any violence.

Melissa - posted on 07/07/2011

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I believe that it's the parent's job's to discipline the children with spanking and time outs. I believe kids can talk out their problems with each other but when it comes to actual discipline, that's the parents jobs, because it will create problems in the home later in life and more violence!

Veronica - posted on 07/07/2011

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I realize you all know that Im a pro-spanker -- but Im not a heavy duty, active spanker - at least not anymore -- whether its from my infrequent spankings or not -- isnt the point. I also had the talk with my children on several occassions the difference between hitting and spanking -- they know that when they get a swat on the butt that its moms finality to something - they know its the reaction they get when mom is putting her foot down. I also discuss the difference between a smack on the butt, to just plain hitting -- I exercise a lot of different forms of discipline, from timeouts, taking away privelages, chores, etc. Which is actually more funny than it is anything else because my kids can get pretty comical when it comes to punishment. For instance, my son was on the road when we were outside, so i made everyone come in the house, and told him he was grounded for the day ( i shouldnt have to repeat myself for 4 years strait, on how dangerous the road is, and to stay off!) Anyhow, he started cleaning - picking up and sweeping the floor - i asked him why he was doing that - and he said, "well, if im grounded, i might as well get cleaning." HAHAHAHAHA right on kiddo! lol
I think kids will hit and bite regardless if you spank or not - my kids bite each other - i didnt teach them that - i never bit any of my kids -- so i personally will not stand on the side of spanking teaching kids how to hit - whether its a part of it or not - i think kids will hit regardless. (they pull each others hair too - i didnt teach them that either).


Anyhow, so far, some great advice that I will exercise - i especially will sit down with my children and have some good thorough talks about authority, rules, etc.
Thanks :)

Rosie - posted on 07/07/2011

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i almost wish mine would do this. instead it's always tattle tattle tattle, or else they just get pissed at the other one and yell, and occasionally hit (my two youngest have done it a couple times). i'd like to know how to get them to handle things themselves, lol.

Elfrieda - posted on 07/07/2011

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This post made me laugh out loud. I distinctly remember getting in trouble for trying to spank my sister. I was under the impression that it was Mom, Dad, and me trying to raise my sister. I think that's pretty common among first-borns.



I'm trying to remember how my parents explained it to me: I think it was something along the lines of I was not her mom, I was her sister, and it was not my job to punish her. My mom always had a big ban on tattling, but she made an exception: if my sister behaves so badly that I would be tempted to take toys away or spank her, that's when I should tell on her. My sister had a big mouth, and was not at all shy to tell me, "You're not Mommy!" We ended up settling things with negotiation most of the time, just so we wouldn't have to bring my mom into it. (when things got to that level, it usually ended up with us both unhappy, doing chores "to keep out of trouble")



I was outraged (because I felt they spoiled her) but I obeyed. It didn't reduce the "mother hen" behaviour in other aspects, though. I taught her the alphabet, nagged her to keep her hat on, stay away from barbed wire, etc, and spoke up on her behalf when I felt that the adults were not being fair to her.



I think just bringing all the kids together and telling everyone, "I am the mom and I will decide when somebody gets punished." will help. Now the 3 and 4 y.o. know that their siblings' authority doesn't extend that far, and the older ones know it, too.

Amie - posted on 07/06/2011

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Ch! I have a husband that does that. He doesn't do it on purpose though. I don't know how many times I will have to drill into his head to ask me before he gives them anything. Especially if it's put up where they can't get it.

If it's put up away from there - it means they didn't put it there and it's there for a reason. He's such a schmo some days. LOL

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Not quite like that, but the girls HAVE been plotting against me since before they could talk. ;)

It's more like when he starts throwing a fit over something he can't have for whatever reason.... they start trying to bribe him w/ it to get him to stop crying. Then I have to be saying 'No. I am the mom and I said no.' It just ends up confusing him wondering who he should listen to, I DO love it too though cuz they can get him to cooperate brushing his teeth or getting his jammies on a million times faster than I can.... and, of course, there's the fact that they are his 'comfort objects' when they are w/ their father.

Amie - posted on 07/06/2011

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LOL Teresa, do they do the distract and nab technique too?

Our two middle ones keep trying that one. Problem is, our son (6) distracts and sends our girl (4) to get the treat (it's always some treat they want LOL). She's not quick enough to sneak off with it though - they always get caught. haha

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My son has 3 'mothers'... me AND both his sisters. Sorry. I wish I had some ideas for you, but I've been dealing w/ the same thing for 3 years. It's great that they love him and help out so much, but sometimes... the REAL Mommy has to be the boss. They don't so much try to discipline him as they try undermining my authority to get him what he wants though....

Ez - posted on 07/06/2011

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I'm sorry Veronica, I don't want to be disrespectful to you, but I'm going to echo JuLeah. This example just blows the 'spanking doesn't teach kids to hit' argument right out of the water.

Becky - posted on 07/06/2011

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My 3 year old tries to discipline his 1 year old brother too. He says, "Zach, I'm going to put you in time-out for that!" As he doesn't actually try to put him in time-out, I just gently correct him and tell him that only mommy and daddy put them in time-out. He likes to tell people they are in a "heap of trouble" (a line from Cars) too, which I also have to correct when he says it to other kids.
Sometimes, he is actually trying to protect his little brother, like when he tries to pull him back when he is going towards the street. The problem is, his heart is in the right place, but he pulls him by the neck, which is not okay! If he lets go when I tell him to, he gets praised for protecting his little brother but told not to pull him by the neck. If he doesn't let go, he gets a time-out. I'm sure it'll get more challenging as he gets older, although maybe not, with them being so close in age. It'll end up being the 2 of them against the baby! :/

Katherine - posted on 07/06/2011

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My 5 year old does that with my 2 year old!

I just put her in time out, that usually deters it for a little bit lol.

I HAVE to start a rewards chart. Maybe that would work for you?

Constance - posted on 07/06/2011

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I have the same poblems with my older kids with my 6 and 7 yr old. I have severe back problem and debilitating migraines. So unfortunatly they have to help a lot more then I like. My 15 yr old is the worst though. She will do things in front of me. Even when it is a question that starts with " Mommy etc..." She will answer for me. i have to remind them that I am in charge. I post the ules of the house right on the wall. It does work. You can type up what is not allowed. Mine are basic but broke down into very basic sentences. Three catigories, respect, communication, and aggression. Basic rules is no yelling, hitting, and things like that. I also combine it with a point and reward chart. They get points for doing as they have been asked and lose points for negative behaviors. They have different levels to get to in order to receive priviledges. They have basic priviledges and then they have a large goal to work towards. it eally seems to help keep eveything under control. I have 8.

Veronica - posted on 07/06/2011

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Other things they do, is try to inforce time outs, taking things away from the little ones, yelling, etc.

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