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Sibblings that do not get along

Posted by on Jun. 19, 2012 at 3:41 PM
  • 11 Replies

My two girls are like oil and water sometimes.  They just pick and nag at each other till they drive me insaine.  I've tried rewarding not fighting but they fight anyway.

by on Jun. 19, 2012 at 3:41 PM
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by on Jun. 19, 2012 at 7:16 PM

 My sister and I were like that and had to share a room all those years! We are still so different but see each other all the time and are so much closer!

your girls will be there someday too!

by on Jun. 19, 2012 at 7:39 PM

 We are all only children here in this house. I was an only child my husband is an only child and my daughter is an only

by on Jun. 19, 2012 at 8:03 PM

Too late for me.

by on Jun. 19, 2012 at 8:07 PM

My boys have days where they fight alot.  I seperate them.  I also try to make sure we have a few one on one moments during the day - just talking, reading, or a tickle fest.  I don't really reward or punish, they are siblings - not their choice....they don't have to LIKE each other, but they do need to get along or we won't go places.

by on Jun. 19, 2012 at 8:54 PM

 Oh my dd and ds have their days.  Most of the time they are great together until my dd gets frustrated with him having any thoughts.  she likes to be in control.  It can be a battle but we are trying.

by on Jun. 19, 2012 at 10:52 PM

Your girls are "normal".  It is called sibling rivalry.  My youngest sister and I never got along, still don't but sometimes it works out that way.  I get along with my older two sisters though.  

by on Jun. 20, 2012 at 12:03 AM

My sisters and I argued a lot because we were so very different, and there was a significant gap in our ages, but we also had our own rooms growing up so we didn’t have to be around each other if we couldn’t get along.  Do your daughters have separate rooms?  If not, and you have the space, perhaps it's time to separate them by giving them their own defined spaces.  Don't think of this as rewarding their bad behaviour with separate bedrooms.  If their age difference is more than a couple of years and emotional development is significantly different, the bad behaviour could be their unsophisticated, childish way of telling you it's time to put them into separate bedrooms.

When my own daughters came along, they were as different as night and day.  My late husband was still in the Army.  By the time the girls were in elementary school, we were living in “NCO country” in a little townhouse the size of a soda cracker box, with paper thin walls and no room to spare.  Bedrooms were the size of postage stamps, and the one bathroom was in the hallway.  Like their brothers, the girls were required to share a room.  When the squabbling, bickering and fighting began in earnest, we ran a rope the length of their room to try to create separate, unique spaces for each daughter.  I used sheets as a temporary curtain, until I could make something more permanent out of heavier fabric to hang from the length of PVC pipe which served as a super long curtain rod their father hung from hooks in the ceiling.  This gave each girl a little “privacy,” even if it wasn’t a sound barrier.  Each was allowed to decorate her space as she wanted, and each daughter had 2 walls on her side of the room to paint whatever colour she chose.  Naturally, the bedroom closet and doorway were shared space, and any confrontations over those spaces typically results in unwanted attention from one or both parents.  The one standing rule in our house was that any child with homework had priority use of his/her bedroom, regardless of the other child’s plans.  Didn’t matter if you had a friend over for the night, homework came before anything else.

Even with this division of space in our daughters’ bedroom, the squabbling, bickering, nit-picking, sniping and general snarkiness continued.

My daughters battled each other anywhere and everywhere – at home, school, church, or in any public setting – didn’t matter if they were alone or with the family, and they really didn’t care if they embarrassed themselves, me, or their father, who was active duty military while they were growing up.  (Drawing that kind of attention to yourself and your family on post is never a good thing.)  They just could not seem to let go of their differences and agree to disagree without creating a scene.  So, I decided to teach them both a lesson in tolerance and patience.

Whenever they fought, they won the opportunity to spend an entire weekend working for me...and I always had chore lists for them because we had a very large family.  While I enjoyed a rare opportunity to bake, sew and do some of the things I rarely had time to do with 7 children in the house, my daughters won an exciting opportunity to clean the house, scrub the bathroom, clean out the frig, wipe down pantry and kitchen cupboard shelves, wash cars, prepare meals, wash and dry dishes after every meal (no electric dishwashers in military housing back then), take care of laundry for the entire family and work outside in my flower beds or garden if there weren’t enough chores to keep them busy inside.  At the end of each day, both girls had the option to spend quality time with their school books to get ahead, do their homework, work on a puzzle or other project at the kitchen table, or read quietly in the kitchen or their bedroom.  In addition to being grounded, they also lost television privileges for the entire weekend – longer if I felt it was warranted.

After supper, the 3 of us would sit down at the kitchen table together, to what family members eventually referred to as our “peace summit talks.”  Each daughter had to tell me one nice thing about her sister, and she really had to mean it.  Both knew I possessed “super mom” powers which allowed me to zoom in on insincerity, half-truths and outright lies straight away, so there was no point wasting my time and theirs with deception and taradiddle.  Toss off a whopper and expect the consequences.  I required each daughter to explain why she thought the quality she chose was something good about her sister, which meant putting some thought into what came out of the mouth before uttering a single word.  If one of my daughters couldn’t come up with something nice to say about the other, or if the girls turned the truce into another war, then one or both of them got to write a paper on the subject of my choice.  If only one daughter was responsible for re-starting the battle, then her punishment continued while the other earned back her privileges for the week.  The miscreant who chose poorly and tried to continue the war earned herself another weekend working for me, an extension on those lost privileges and the grounding, and another paper on the topic of my choice...and I always had a list of topics handy with at least one major point and multiple life lessons for just such an occasion.  Hand me a bunch of drivel, and you got to re-write the paper at twice the original length requirement.

I required my children to handwrite their papers.  No typing, so the added work was more than just another thinking exercise; violators were flirting with a weekend of hand cramps if the paper length doubled or the subject changed.  If I didn’t like what I read, or if my daughters missed the point, they got to re-write the entire paper.  (Yes, I read every single paper they wrote.)  Sometimes, I changed the subject if one or both children didn’t get my point the first time round, or if the unacceptable behaviour continued.  The grounding and loss of television privileges was extended until I was satisfied violators had learned the lessons I was teaching.

My late husband eventually found the extra cash to pick up a couple of gently used bi-fold closet door sets to create movable screens the girls could use to divide their room into 2 equal spaces.  By the time we were able to afford them, both girls were in high school and our weekend kitchen table “peace summits” had evolved into wonderful mother-daughter times filled with laughter, friendly conversation, “kitchen science” recipe experiments, and our share of serious chats about life, love, family, school, careers and a host of other topics I don’t even recall.  I do remember gallons of hot cocoa, tea and coffee were consumed with buckets of popcorn and samplings of those kitchen science recipe disasters and successes.

This change didn’t happen overnight.  We endured an abundance of loud battles, angry tears, slamming doors, accusations, tantrums, frustration, aggravation and more than a few major meltdowns worthy of the label “global thermo-nuclear warfare,” but my daughters found their way into an uneasy peace that eventually became a life-long friendship they still enjoy today.

If your daughters must share a room, try dividing it into equal spaces and allowing each to decorate her half as she chooses (with your approval).  You didn’t mention your daughters’ ages or how bad their squabbling has become, so I am assuming they are still school age and their bickering hasn’t escalated to hurtful language and actions.  Unfinished bi-fold closet doors are still relatively inexpensive at secondhand home furnishing shoppes and from “big box” retailers like Home Depot.  Purchase 2 sets and allow each daughter to paint and decorate her set of doors.  Once any hardware for hanging has been removed, the doors will “free stand” when set at an angle (think expensive room dividers you see in home decor shoppes).  You can put little hooks on the door to hang jewelry and other lightweight items, or leave them plain, so they fold easily and can be put aside for storage when the entire room is needed.  The doors can be put in place when your daughters need their privacy in a shared bedroom, and taken down when they don’t, or during the day while they’re at school.

Set ground rules for both girls while they are in the bedroom, and establish clearly outlined consequences for any unacceptable behaviour at home or in public – such as squabbling, bickering, nit-picking or fighting.  If you or the rest of the family don’t want to be around your daughters when they’re having a go at each other, there is no reason why anyone else would want to endure it, either.  If they’re old enough and you feel it’s warranted, outline the rules and consequences in a contract and make both girls sign it.  The consequences should have some kind of “bite” (so to speak).  You want to make an impression, but also teach lessons at the same time.  Do not hesitate to suspend privileges like television, cell phone, computer and internet usage for 1-2 weeks or longer.  No one ever died from reading a good book.

If your daughters need the internet or a computer for homework, make computer usage for homework the only exception – and only under your direct supervision (or your husband’s, if you can’t be home to watch one or both girls).  Take away social activities with family and friends, scouting events, sports and any other extra-curricular functions if poor behaviour becomes a problem.  Don’t hesitate to use grounding for a week, month, or longer if necessary to drive your point home – that being around battling daughters is unpleasant for you and everyone else who has to endure their bad behaviour.  Make sure your girls put the time to good use reading books or helping you with chores around the house.

If this doesn’t help, think about sitting down with a counsellor to get to the root of the problem between your daughters.  Don’t allow it to fester, and don’t let them “battle it out” because typically the oldest will win since an older child has the advantage of age, and the sophistication that comes with age which allows for extremely hurtful language or worse.

Best wishes and best of luck.  Hope this info has helped.


by on Jun. 20, 2012 at 8:23 AM

Thanks guys.

Don't give up on your dreams, just look for new ways to achieve them.

by on Jun. 20, 2012 at 6:02 PM

Some siblings are like that. They may get along better as they get older. They may get along better if they are separated through organized activities then maybe their time together will not be so bad.

by on Jun. 20, 2012 at 6:23 PM

My younger two never got along, till they matured, now they are buds.  We homeschool so you could imagine how stressful it could get, eventhough they are five years apart. Nyssa was very jealous when Michaela came along, and it never got better till about a year ago,that is when the constant fighting stopped.

Your daughters will grow out of the fighting, it is normal as they are learning to get along. I had to stay out of their disagreements so that they could learn to compromise and all that good stuff.

Shari, wife to John 4/88, mom to Heather 1/77,Nyssa 4/89, Michaela 8/94

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