Re: Sibling rivalry

Sue wrote:
"Ericka Kammerer" <eek@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote in message

As adults, it isn't easy to
figure out how to work well with challenging adults. Kids are
even less skilled at that sort of thing, generally speaking.
What work has been done with them to help them understand DD3's
issues and provide them with concrete skills to deal with DD3's
challenging behaviors?

As soon as I figure out how to deal with it, I guess I would be in a better position to help them. What I have done is to clue them in that #3 has some issues and needs more patience from us. It hasn't helped though, lol.


The only things that come to mind right away are
continuing to work with with DD3 on having more appropriate behavior,

We are trying to do that, but she is not making the connection and I don't truly know what to do about that. She just cannot make the connection that if she is nice to her sisters, they will be nice to her. We talk a blue streak about it, but it's not sinking in and she tells us that she isn't the one that needs to change, it's everyone else.

I wonder if you're focusing too much on talking and
reasoning and trying to get her to understand and then change
her behavior as a result. I'm not sure I'd go that route. It
might be more effective to be clear and direct and say, "I expect
you to do X." Period. She doesn't have to understand or agree.
She just has to do the required behavior. And don't use vague
words like "be nice." Be very, very specific about what you
want--don't go in their rooms unless invited, leave when asked,
don't speak to them this way, say please and thank you to them,
or whatever it is. You'll probably have to build these things
up one or two rules at a time, but every little bit should help.

helping DD1 and DD2 deal with their frustration more productively,

How do I help them with their frustration? What things can I do?

I would guess that they need clarity on what things
they're expected to cope with, and what things they can come
to you with and expect relief. For instance, maybe they're
expected not to rise to the bait when she says certain things
(like repeating everything they say, or saying silly things
to annoy them, or other stuff that's annoying but essentially
harmless), but if she goes into their rooms without permission
or won't leave when asked, you will immediately get up and
remove her. I'm guessing that maybe they feel like the
things they have to deal with from DD3 are endless and that
you're not willing to do anything effective about them (which
probably isn't true, but may have enough of a grain of truth
behind it to cause trouble). If they know where the boundaries
are, they may be able to cope better.

Are you so worn out from dealing with DD3's behaviors that you're running low >on energy to help keep DD3's problem behaviors from impacting DD1 and
DD2 too much? (I think that would be very normal, but might be
another factor irritating DD1 and DD2. They might perceive that
you don't care enough about their feelings, when your perception
is just that you're picking your battles with DD3.)

I am worn out. Hubby and I both are. I don't have much energy left to help out the other two. I know this is a problem.

When I feel that way, it usually helps me to really
structure the day. I'll literally write out a schedule that
blocks out precisely when each kid gets me to themselves, when
I get time to myself, when they're expected to play nicely
together, etc. Then I can tell myself that I only have to
deal with this particular issue for the next 30 minutes (or
whatever it is). I can also tell the kids, "Not now, I'll be
all yours in 8 minutes. Right now you're supposed to be reading."

How challenging is the situation with DD3? How unfair are
things to DD1 and DD2? Are they having to put up with a lot? Or
are we really talking about minor annoyances here? Minor annoyances
add up, of course, but if DD1 & DD2 are really being asked to deal with
a lot from DD3, maybe it would be a good idea to carefully structure
some respite and some rewards for when they do a good job of dealing
with DD3.

I really don't know what I am dealing with. I don't know if it is normal, annoying stuff, which some of it seems to be to me or I am dealing with some abnormal behavior in #3. Maybe both. For example, since #1 and #2 are upstairs, #3 always goes up there and gets into their things, takes clothes, and/or comes in on them when they are up there. When they have friends over, #3 won't leave them alone. #1 and #2's friends do not like #3 and then we have all of them leaving #3 out. However, I don't expect them to let her tag along when they have friends over. It just gets really stressful around her trying to keep #3 out of everyone's hair.

Is there something DD3 enjoys doing? Does she just
need more structure or more people time than the rest of you?
Would it help to get her into an activity to soak up some of
her time and energy and give her more time with others? That
takes time and money, but maybe it's worth finding a way to
make it happen. Is there an after school program? For instance,
at my kids' middle school, there's something going on every single
day after school until 6pm--for free. I have another friend who
has four kids, and the youngest has some real issues. She's adopted
and has serious behavioral issues associated with alcohol and drug
abuse by her birth mother during the pregnancy. The mom was totally
stressing herself to the limit trying to meet all of this child's
needs, but in doing so she really was neglecting her other kids.
Ultimately, she put this child in daycare after her special ed
preschool program so that her other kids had a little time each
day when mom wasn't completely consumed with dealing with the
one child. This has really turned things around for the whole
family. Obviously, that's a much more severe situation than the
one you're in, but I think it illustrates how sometimes you need
to think outside what you believe to be the situation so that
you can do right by the whole family. If you're too exhausted
to cope with this situation and break the cycle, maybe you need
to consider enlisting a little help in the form of an activity or
program that will meet DD3's needs and give everyone else a bit
of a break. It could be a win-win.

Best wishes,

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