How do I stop my child being irritating? I have two kids. My daughter is nine and my son is five. I have a problem in that my daughter irritates my son all the time. She doesn’t mean to, but she mothers him so much that he just loses his temper and starts screaming at her. I get why he’s so mad and I’ve asked my daughter to stop but either she doesn’t want to or she can’t help herself. The screaming is hard on me too. What else can I do to get her to stop? Thanks Paula
I sympathize with you. A lot of girls in your daughter’s age group like to mother, but it seems to have gone beyond that and is understandably driving you crazy. It sounds as if you daughter does indeed have real mothering tendencies, but in addition, has now realized just how much fun it is to bug her brother. A nine year old is also quite capable of modifying her behaviour to make life livable for everyone else in the family. However, the first thing I would do, is take the time to quietly observe what’s going on to make sure that your daughter is indeed the instigator. If she is, then you can attack it from both fronts. Provide a disincentive for her to behave badly, alongside an incentive for her to behave well.
Provide a logical consequence
To begin with, there needs to be a consequence to her behaviour and I would make that consequence as logical as you can. Firstly, sit her down and explain that you will no longer be putting up with her deliberately trying to bother her brother. Explain the difference between having genuine concern for him and purposely annoying him. Then follow through. If she tries to upset him at the family dinner table, then she should go to her room and miss out on dinner, until she can behave. Similarly, if she bugs him while he’s playing, isolate her. This will deprive her of the negative attention that she’s come to both expect as well as enjoy. Try as much as possible to keep your reactions low key.
I would also encourage you to monitor the reactions of your son. Sometimes reactions become patterns and he may misinterpret real caring for the bugging that he’s come to expect. This may then cause him to over react. Whether or not this is happening, it’s still important to focus on building their relationship in a positive way. Find opportunities for you all to do fun things together. Doing fun stuff together is an incentive for your daughter to behave well. You might want to try letting them cook together with your help, as it’s a very co-operative endeavour and a lovely way for her to genuinely work with him. Whatever activity you choose, I wish you the best of luck. For more help with your parenting, please visit my parenting services page.