Siblings Can Be Bullies Too!
By Sharon Scott, LPC, LMFT –
Home should be our safe haven – a place of love, relaxation, fun and companionship. Home Sweet Home.
However, as a Licensed Professional Counselor, I continue to see more and more cases of bullying among siblings. Siblings are going to disagree, argue, be territorial and get into scuffles.
But it can become too aggressive and mean-spirited with one child always the aggressor and the other the victim. This is like a festering wound,the child can never get away from the bully,and it can contribute to issues of anger, depression and anxiety.
A recent study was published in the journal Pediatrics that found that sibling bullying, as with peer bullying, was harmful to a child or teenager’s mental health. Another study of 5,600 children using data from The National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence found that 32% reported experiencing at least one type of sibling victimization in the past year.
I have one youthful client whom I recommend staying close to his mother when his big, older brother’s medication for bipolar disorder doesn’t seem to be working. That comforts the younger one. I have other siblings that I’m working with together in counseling and seeing success when we lay out on the table each other’s jealousies (she’s prettier; she gets more attention–child had just had surgery and needed the attention.) or discuss options to avoid fighting.
Parents must make sure the home is a No Bully Zone. Avoid just lecturing the aggressor. They need a consequence with a set time limit for their misbehavior. The parent may need to help the kids work out their differences or agree to disagree or even stay out of each other’s way for a while to let things cool down. Counseling may be needed. Remember that siblings each need some one-on-one time with each parent,time for complaining, bragging or just hanging out. Get everyone off the computer and phone and have a weekly game night or pizza night. Fun time together is a good antidote!
Copyright © 2013, Sharon Scott. No reproduction without written permission from athor.
P.S. Please see my other column SmileNotes titled My Two Brothers.
The guide for parents/educators on how to peer-proof children and teens is Peer Pressure Reversal: An Adult Guide to Developing a Responsible Child, 2nd Ed.
Her popular book for teens, How to Say No and Keep Your Friends, 2nd Ed., empowers kids to stand out,not just fit in!
A follow-up book for teens, When to Say Yes! And Make More Friends, shows adolescents how to select and meet quality friends and, in general, feel good for doing and being good.
Sharon also has a charming series of five books for elementary-age children each teaching an important living skill and "co-authored" with her savvy cocker spaniel Nicholas who makes the learning fun.Their book on managing elementary-age peer pressure is titled Too Smart for Trouble.