I’ve got to the point in the school holidays where I’ve had enough. Those boys who went away for 12 days and I really missed? I’m struggling with them.
On paper, my 14 year old son isn’t a bad teenager at all. He doesn’t drink or smoke or do drugs. He behaves himself at school (although he doesn’t work much). There are no concerns about underage sex. He doesn’t give his parents cheek or have tantrums and meltdowns at home.
But there is one thing he does do. Constantly.
Wind up his brother and sister.
Teasing, nagging, bullying, nasty names, little digs, hitting and pushing.
It. Never. Stops.
And I don’t know how to stop it.
It makes for a very unhappy home. An unhappy brother and sister and a cross mum. And a teenage boy who keeps getting told off. How can that be pleasurable? Why does he keep doing it?
And my younger son, himself at the start of puberty, has had enough. My once sunny, happy boy veers between bursting with excitement (such as when he got back from Scout camp) to the depths of despair (like when he left primary school). He is no longer willing to be his brother’s whipping boy. He’s fighting back.
And when I say fighting, I mean FIGHTING. Physically.
His brother says one thing to him and he lashes out. Kicking and hitting.
I can understand why he’s doing it, but it doesn’t make anything any better. His brother is still nasty to him. He’s still unhappy. Except now he’s getting told off too. And he’s making me more unhappy into the bargain.
Every day, I have at least two discussions with my eldest about his behaviour towards his brother and sister, but nothing changes.
My younger son asks why I don’t stop his brother and I tell him I’m trying. But I really don’t know how.
All I do know is it’s making every day a struggle. I feel sick, tired and anxious. I feel embarrassed when they fight in public. I feel down when my younger son (or my daughter) cries. Long after they’ve made up again, I’m still feeling it. I can’t cope with it much longer.
Then my younger son hit the nail on the head: ‘But nothing ever happens! You never do anything to him!’
And he’s right. There are no consequences. When you have toddlers and pre-school children, you have consequences for their behaviour – there’s the naughty step and star charts. There are rewards for good behaviour, sanctions for bad.
There’s no naughty step or sticker charts for a 14 year old bully and his volatile 11 year old brother.
I need to start taking privileges away. They’re in that teenage bubble where they don’t appreciate things and see them as privileges – getting pocket money, playing on the Xbox or iPad or watching DVDs – they don’t realise they’re privileges. They think they’re entitled to do these things.
Well they’re not.
If I (and they) want to get back to a life without arguments, there will need to be sanctions. It may be more painful in the short-term, but something has to change.
And going back to school can’t come fast enough.
Has anyone got any advice on how to deal with teenagers bullying their siblings?