Subject: teen daughter hates her younger sister
Question: I would like advice on how to improve the relationship between my daughters ages 13 and 9.
My older daughter is often hateful to her younger sister. She is frequently verbally abusive. The younger daughter is now pushing back and returning the unkindness. The Grandparents think the girls need counseling. As an only child, I'm not sure if this in within the bounds of normal or if counseling is needed. How could I improve their relationship, and when should I seek outside help? What I want is for the girls to at a minimum behave in a respectful way to each other. Can you give some suggestions on how to achieve this?
Answer: Dear Alicia:
YES! I can give you some suggestions. Usually sibling rivarly is about one thing, YOUR TIME. They start picking on each other because they are feeling slighted and even though teens or preteens don't want you to know it YOU are still the center of their universe.
Now first let's look at this age difference between them. One is 13 and the the other is 9. They are both at different developmental stages. Either do a search on google or go to talaris.org and look up developmental stages and check to see what the differences are between these two ages. They are bound to get on each other's nerves.
One of the things I realized with my own children was that they still needed alot of one on one time with me. Start by spending individualized time with each one of them. An hour a week is all it takes to spend UNINTERRUPTED time with them doing something they would like to do with you (AND without the sibling present).
LISTEN, LISTEN and then LISTEN some more. Don't be afraid of silences as some children need alot of silence before they will begin to talk. See if this doesn't start to change their relationship with each other when they feel more secure with you.
Having said this NEVER is it okay for children to be violent with each other or verbally abusive with each other. Simply explain that it won't be tolerated then make sure you try and catch them when they are being kind or doing something respectful to each other and PRAISE them immediately. It is easy for a child who is acting out to start feeling like they are the bad child and one is the good child.
Remember to tell your 13 year old you are there for her and that growing up can seem scary and confusing. Most of us want to grow up and still want to be children too. She needs to know her becoming a grown up doesn't mean you will be there less for her rather she now needs to let you know when she needs you more.....also share this with the grandparents as you want consistancy.
M Kay Keller
Recorded messages on teen behavior!