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Sibling Rivalry for Attention?

Posted by on Feb. 25, 2013 at 10:01 AM
  • 11 Replies

Not really a SM or a BM question as I'm sure either are just as susceptible.  Anyone have a kid hellbent on denying their sibling any attention?

SD is this way lately, and she's also heaping loads of victim attitude into the mix.  She and I spend a significant amount of time together one-on-one due to the horses and her HW.  She gets my undivided attention often.  SS does not.  There are few times when it's just he and I, and invariably SD attempts to insert herself.  If I'm helping him with HW, she's interrupting.  If I'm playing ball with him trying to work on a certain skill, she's ready to jump in there, runs her mouth if she can't, and will actually make a point of knocking his ball away with her own ("accidentally", of course) until firmly told to leave.  This came to head over the weekend while assistant coaching SS's team.  SD felt entitled to be on the field and threw an absolute hissy when told to take a seat on the side line. 

It's relentless.  Huge boundary issue, but I'm at a total loss how to address it without furthing the "woe is me" state of mind she's in.  She's crying that I'm moody and mistreating her lately simply for ousting her from SS's business.  There's not a move I can make that isn't somehow about her, and it's seriously getting on my nerves.  Do I just ignore this and keeping doing what I do?  Confront her and let her cry it out?

Tell me it's a phase!

DH opined that it's possible she does this because SS gets 99% of the attention with BM, so she's claiming territory with me since she's used to having so much of my attention.  But good God almighty, it has to stop.

by on Feb. 25, 2013 at 10:01 AM
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by on Feb. 25, 2013 at 10:05 AM
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I'm a direct person so I would tell SD you are spending time with her brother like you do with her. Tell her to scram and go clean her room/take out garbage/any chore. Ie: if you're bored you can go clean xyz!

Also, maybe stop doing so much 1 on 1 with her and include her brother more?
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by on Feb. 25, 2013 at 2:56 PM

How old is this kid? 

I have three kids... no steps, all adopted... two 5 year olds (twins) and a 4 year old (no blood kin).  The attention battles are CRAZY.  If anyone is getting attention, the other wants in, and the worst offender is the oldest... 

Part of it, you just have to wing it, but one tool we use is assigning a child to be "it" for the day... Today is day one.  Oldest girl sits in the middle row in the van (the coveted spot), planned the dinner menu for tonight (with assistance and supervision), will feed the dogs and cats, help fix dinner, and set the table.  Before bed, she will pick one of th ebedtime stories.  Tomorrow, twin brother is "it" and he gets/does...  Next day is baby girl.  This gives each child one on one time with me, extra attention at in the evening, and a job to do. 

When they interupt or try to horn in, I tell them that it is not their turn and they need to wait.

by on Feb. 25, 2013 at 3:10 PM

Ha!  Oldest of 3 here.  It's normal...even in an intact family.

I think that were I in your shoes, I'd use the ammo you've got.  The horse thing.  Talk to her about herd dynamics.  How the lead mare keeps everyone in line.  How the naughty young geldings don't get to playfully nip at the rest all day.  How the horses trade spots eating their hay so we always put out an extra pile.  Talk to her like an adult a bit and let her know that you are the boss mare and you have to take care of EVERYONE in the herd.  You can't just focus on one horse. 

Tie a red ribbon in your pony tail if you have to and kick!  (figuratiively)

IMHO, she's looking for boundaries.  You need to be boss mare and give her some. Kindly. My mare is what I call a benevolent dictator.  She isn't nasty at all unless cornered.  But she definitely lets everyone know she's in charge and doesn't allow any baloney.  You don't have to either.

SD needs to learn to wait her turn.  Easy enough.  "Miss Mare, I'm working with your brother right now so in 5 minutes, I'll come see you.  For now, I need you to go do X."

Redirect her.  Give her a project.  Carve out time for you and SS.  And make her BACK OFF.

by Gold Member on Feb. 25, 2013 at 3:31 PM

Kiddo is 13 and hormonal, and I feel like I'm in the middle of a battle between her and SS.  HW is HW.  They each get their time, as needed.  SS is not permitted to interrupt when SD is receiving help, and SD it not permitted to interrupt when SS is receiving help.  SS doesn't complain and is happy to go off doing other things when told to scram.  SD flies into pity party "woe is me" mode.

The reason SD gets so much extra attention is due to the horses.  It's my side business (2nd job, if you will), so she is often in the barn with me at night doing chores.  Hence, she benefits from conversation between just the two of us while we're (I'm) working. I do periodically coach her through her rides.  Again, no issue with SS.  When he asks me to play catch or kick a ball around, it's a huge issue with SD.  She won't bat an eyelash if I'm working outside or doing anything "uninteresting", but if SS wants me, she is competing.  When she's told to butt out, I'm mean, rude, moody, bitchy [pick your adjective].  There's no reasoning with her about his time vs. her time, interruptions, appropriateness of jumping in vs. politely giving space, etc.  She's 13.  Any unhappiness or discontent is someone else's fault, namely mine lately.

by on Feb. 25, 2013 at 3:35 PM

I really think it's kind of normal and maybe a compliment!  She wants your attention.

Shut her down. You know how if you're around horses half the day.  Come on.  You know how. 

Give her a task.  Giver her something "important".  Distract her.  What would you do with a snarky 3 YO mare?

She can be snarky all she wants.  Be fair, be kind, but redirect her and carve out time for SS.

by Gold Member on Feb. 25, 2013 at 3:39 PM

LOL!  I should...

We've actually talked about the horses.  She gets upset when one bullies another, but the other is always one step ahead.  They know the rules.  When top dog says "MOVE IT!", other horse moves, or loses a chunk of hair.  I have to admit, this greatly influenced how I "parent".  You get one warning, then a consequence.  Do not come crying to me about how unfair it is to be grounded, lose a privilege or whatever.  You had been warned.  You knew exactly what would happen when you crossed that line and chose to cross anyway.  Own it. 

I guess I'm just bothered by the constant accusations all of the sudden about being so "mean" every time she's unhappy.  Yet, I was just explaining to DH last month that unhappy teen girls hate everyone, so not to take it personally.  Need to take my own damn advice and ignore this, I suppose.

Quoting Birdseed:

Tie a red ribbon in your pony tail if you have to and kick!  (figuratiively)


by on Feb. 25, 2013 at 3:43 PM
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Funny thing.  The "meanest" teachers and professors I ever had were the ones I liked the most.

Sometimes, being "mean" is just a word kids use to describe someone who has expectations, boundaries and rules.  Being "mean" isn't the worst thing you could ever be called.

Neglectful? bad.  Hurtful? bad.  Mean?  ha!  

You've got a goldmine of teachable experiences at the barn.  USE THEM.

by Member on Feb. 26, 2013 at 8:20 AM

Time to set some boundaries.   Be a little more firm, it really does seem as if you are accepting that you tell her to do something 3 or 4 times and then she slightly obeys.   Take her to task on it.   Give equal time to each kid, and INSIST that it be respected.

I'd sit down with her and talk to her.  'in this house, each kid gets equal time.  No stealing the ball from Jake, no running on the field when he is playing soccer' (or whatever it is).

I'd also be VERY careful to 'legislate behavior, not attitude'.   Even when you're describing it, you're describing ATTITUDE NOT BEHAVIOR.   Focus on behavior.  Very specific behavior    You tell her to do something, she does it.  Keep it very, very simple.   If she wants to have a pouty face or complain, FINE.  Let her say whatever she wants, she needs to do what you tell her to do.  She's allowed to have an opinion - the rules of the game are changing and she's not going to like it. 

 Tell her what to do, not how to be.   Eventually the attitude will follow the behavior.

No, it's not a phase.   They can wind up both being 60 years old and hating each other.  Do something about it.

by Gold Member on Feb. 26, 2013 at 10:10 AM

No, it's not 3-4 times.  It's once being told that this is SS time and to go do something else, factually not rudely.  If she wants to do her own thing nearby, that's fine.  The "accident" that often follows receives the discipline because I don't believe for a second that she was unable to avoid an interruption.  She's not allowed to even stay outside at that point.  Lack of wiggle room is the reason she's being so fussy. She wants negotiation, and there isn't' any. 

To be honest, part of why I was so pissed off about her interrupting the pre-game coaching over the weekend was because both DH and BM were at the sideline.  DH tried to defend SD's action, and I ended up ripping into him about being the adult who allowed a child to think it was appropriate to walk out onto the field, where she didn't belong.  It wasn't my place to even be the bad guy; she had two parents who turned a blind eye to their kid behaving in a disruptive manner.  BM has no boundaries, so I expect no help there.  DH should have been on it though.  That was really the straw that broke the camel's back.  If she wants to fuss at home, so be it.  The public setting and parental fail that put me in the position to deal with SD was too much.

ETA:  It's really not "part" of the reason but rather "the" reason.  I don't parent when both parents are present, so SD's typical SD-ness went from whatever to infuriating under the circumstance.  She is who she is, and while she should have known better, it was a problem that DH & BM failed to handle.  I'm more mad about getting stuck having to put up with it than I am irritated at SD.

by on Feb. 26, 2013 at 10:31 AM

Yes, my middle DD is like this. Of course, she's two, but if I don't curb it now I can see it turning into a major head ache later.

How old are you SKs? If it were my kid or sk I would sit down with her and tell her that she can't always have ALL the attention. She is very important still but so is her brother and it's important that he get attention, too. If she throws a fit I would finish off with, "I'm sorry, honey, but we all live in this world, it doesn't revolve around just you." and let her cry it out.

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