HomeParentingHow Can Parents Deal with Bullying Among Siblings?

How Can Parents Deal with Bullying Among Siblings?

When you’re a parent, you mightthink of bullying that affects your children outside of the home and at school,but it can affect them within your home as well in the form of siblingbullying. Sometimes siblings fight, and that’s normal, but what if it goesbeyond normal?

Relationalbullying is common among boys and girls, so do you know that there is anissue, and what can you do as a parent?

When Is Fighting Bullying?

Essentially all brothers and sisters fight, but as a parent,you have to wonder when it becomes a larger issue and when it can becharacterized as bullying.

Some of the signs that fighting could be more and could bean issuerelated to bullying include:

  • The fighting seems very intense or is trendingupward in intensity
  • There are certain patterns that you can identifywith the fighting—for example, every day one child is taunting the other aboutthe same thing
  • One sibling may have more power, physically ormaybe mentally than the other
  • There isn’t a sense of friendliness or making upafter a fight ends
  • One sibling doesn’t seem to be empathetictowards the other

Aggressive behavior and sibling bullying don’t always haveto be related to physical injuries and physical harm.

It can also include what’s called property victimization.This means that one sibling uses force to take something away from anothersibling or breaking something that the other child loves and values.

Psychological aggression among siblings can includeemotional pain, such as saying unkind things or not wanting to spend time witha sibling.

The perpetrators of bullying are most likely to be boys andfirstborn children.

What can happen also is that a bullied child can eventuallybecome a bully too, either within the home or at school or elsewhere?

Sometimes whena child is bullying another one, it can mean the bully is experiencing aproblem themselves. Bullying may be something that, as a parent, you want to lookat from the perspective of the bullied child but also the child doing thebullying.

What Are the Effects of Sibling Bullying?

There can be far-reaching effects of sibling bullying,similar to what’s seen when bullying occurs outside of the home.

For example, sibling aggression can impact the levels ofemotional stress a child feels and can also impact a child’s mental health.

Research shows that siblings who experience aggression fromanother sibling even one time can have mental health distress for up to a year.

There can be a number of short-term effects, as well. Forexample, short-term effects of sibling bullying may include problems withsleeping, problems at school or with doing homework, bed-wetting or generalchanges in personality.

What Can Parents Do?

As a parent, what can you do? Some of the things you mightenact if there is bullying going on in your house include:

  • Make sure you are holdingthe bully responsible for their own actions and accountable. Sometimes asparents, we may brush it off as typical behavior or overlook it more than weshould, and it can then grow. You should teach the child who’s bullying theirsibling how far-reaching the effects can be and they should take responsibilityby repeating back what they did and then understanding there are consequences.
  • Work toward alleviating jealously in the family,which is a frequent cause of sibling and relational bullying. Work on pointingout all of your kids’ good characteristics equally and being fair and equal inhow you treat everyone.
  • Model respect on your end. Show your kids how totreat people with kindness and respect in your friendships and otherrelationships that your children can see.
  • One area where you can really work with yourkids to prevent bullying and help them to be strong people overall is to equipthem with problem-solving skills. Kids don’t know how to problem solveinherently—it’s something they have to be taught. You can do this byencouraging your kids to work together to solve issues rather than workingagainst one another.
  • Watch your children for potential unkindbehaviors and step in early on. Don’t wait until the situation becomes worse.

If you take steps to proactivelydeal with sibling bullying, and you can’t seem to make headway, and theproblem remains or even gets worse, it may be wise to consider therapy. Aprofessional therapist may be able to uncover underlying issues in yourchildren and work to resolve those.

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