How should parents deal with bullying amongst siblings?

Bullying is not just restricted to schoolyards anymore. The problem has found its way to cyber space and even households where siblings have become main perpetrators of it. What was first shrugged off as being normal sibling rivalry is not as benign as previously thought and is actually a nationwide problem affecting millions of homes across the country. Despite being a massive hitch “Sibling Bullying” continues to be an understudied area of family life mainly because parents consider bullying at home to be a harmless rite of passage which is normal for brothers and sisters and that such an act does not require any serious measures.

Dr. Jenkins on Bullying Among Siblings

According to Dr. Corrina Jenkins Tucker, an associate professor of family studies at the University of New Hampshire, “There appears to be different norms of acceptability. Peer aggression is unacceptable, but it’s not the same for siblings.” She further states that, “The aggression among siblings should be taken just as seriously as that among peers”.

Even if bullying among siblings does not lead to any serious physical injury; it can still cause severe psychological damage. Absence of scars does not necessarily mean that the problem is under control and does not require supervision. Timely parental intervention is crucial to effectively counter bullying at home. Here are some ways parents can curb sibling rivalry and prevent it from going out of bounds:

Hold both kids responsible

More often than not both siblings are responsible for instigating bullying. One child might tease his brother or call him a name causing the other child to respond. This leads to a war of words and name calling which usually ends in physical confrontation. Experts believe that holding a single child responsible will only encourage the other child and that any punishment should be mutual. Instead of taking sides about who was right and wrong parents should hold both kids accountable. Tell them that bickering is not allowed and the rules are the same for every child.

Bickering time

This may seem like an odd method of resolving a bullying situation at home but renowned child behavioral therapist James Lehman swore by it. The idea is to schedule a “bickering time”, say 7 to 7:30 each day and tell your kids who argue all day to save their bickering and argue as much as they want during that time only. Parents will be surprised how fast their kids will run out of arguments when they know they have to sit at the table each day and argue with each other. Kids will feel silly being bound to the bickering time daily having to come up with arguments. Even when kids run out of things to say parents should make it a habit for them to sit at the table for the specified time. This method can become a great motivator for kids to stop bickering and get along with each other.

Don’t referee fights

Picking sides during quarrels about who is right or wrong will only make matters worse. Instead of refereeing such situations or picking an antagonist parents can tell their kids that fighting around the house is strictly prohibited and such an action will have consequences for all kids involved. As punishment parents can restrict use of their favorite gadget like video game consoles, smartphones and tablets – anything that is of value to them.

Bullying be it online, at home or at school needs an adults intervention so kids can learn to discipline themselves and learn to get along with each other. If unchecked the problem can have disastrous psychological/physical consequences which can greatly affect a child’s confidence and morale. The above mentioned tactics, if properly employed, can help parents effectively control a bullying situation in their households and prevent future incidences.

You May Also Like