Are fighting siblings making life at home unbearable to the extent that you’re worried about their safety? One mother contacted FamilyPoint at the end of her tether with her son and daughter. She’s looking for advice on how to cope with the increasing violence in this week’s A Problem Shared…
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My 12-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son constantly fight and argue, and it seems to be getting worse. I can’t leave them in the same room together for more than a few minutes without some argument starting. The arguments get physical and I can’t separate them as they’re so big. A couple of weeks ago I called the police because they were fighting so violently that I was worried for their safety.
Their stepfather died a few months ago so I have no support in the house. I’m at a loss as to what to do. They are fine individually, but awful together. It’s getting to the point that I dread the weekends and I’m worried about taking them on holiday in the summer. I feel very depressed, as there is such an unpleasant atmosphere in the house.
Our FamilyPoint Advice
Many thanks for contacting us here at FamilyPoint Cymru and we’re so sorry to hear about your recent loss and the difficulties you’re experiencing with your children, it sounds like you are all going through a tough time at the moment.
Sibling rivalry is normal behaviour within children of the same family and can be extremely difficult to deal with and manage. It can also be extremely stressful for the parent, especially when you’re also going through an emotional time yourself.
Emotions are usually at the core of all behaviour and your children losing their stepfather recently is probably a contributing factor to the escalating behaviour between the both of them.
Accessing support for you all is very important at the moment. It’s important that your children get the opportunity to discuss how they are feeling about the death of their stepfather and also for them to try and make sense of the last few months. It must still be a difficult time for you all. Support for yourself is just as important. Cruse Bereavement Care offers free support services to families who have lost a loved one. They can help you individually or as a family to discuss and deal with your recent loss. By visiting their website you can see what services are offered in your area. They can also offer you some support on how to help your children through this difficult time and they have a website specifically designed for young people. Hope Again might be a useful website for you to show your children. For help on how to talk to children about loss read our article here.
There are also a few things you can do at home to try and manage their behaviour. Losing a loved one can make a child feel lost, scared and alone. Even though their behaviour together is testing, it’s important that you spend some time with them on a one-to-one basis and have some quality time together. This can be difficult if you have no support around you but maybe organising for one of them to go to a friend’s house while you spend some time with the other child could be an option. During this time you could talk to them about their stepfather and how they are feeling and also about their behaviour towards their sibling and how you can work together to try and manage this.
Talking is good
Get everyone together and have a chat to try and come up with some distraction techniques to make sure that any situation de-escalates before it gets violent. If there is a particular time of day or particular situation that causes an argument you could think of what you can do to change this. Have everyone agree that if an argument starts to escalate they both go their separate ways and distract themselves until they calm down. If you do have times when both children get on with each other make sure that you praise them and say how happy this makes you feel. Praise goes a very long way with children of all ages and by praising positive behaviour, subconsciously this will encourage more positive behaviour in the future.
Family Lives is a great website that has some useful help and advice on family related issues. They have a great section on sibling rivalry and some useful tips and advice that’s worth a read.
Being a parent to two children that have such an explosive relationship can be very tiring and challenging as a parent and it’s important in the middle of everything that you look after yourself as well. We hope that the above information and advice will be useful to you. If you need to talk about this further contact the FamilyPoint helpline on the details below.
If you would like further information on national or local support services, then you can contact us at FamilyPoint Cymru via phone 0300 222 57 57, text 07860 052 905, or IM/Chat. We are open Monday to Friday 9am-5pm.
All the best for the future
The FamilyPoint Team
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