You guys gave such good advice the last time that another reader has sent in her dilemma for you to pontificate on.
Today's question comes from Niki* (who, in an unrelated note, has a great ass), and I have to say that I'm just as anxious to read your responses as she is, because I'm in a similar situation with Ben.
I want anyone and everyone to feel free to answer, because I think even people who have not raised children can sometimes give good advice about child rearing, but if you have reared children successfully past this stage, be sure to mention that fact in your response. It's always good to know someone made it out the other side alive.
What do you do when you have an older child who continually bullies a younger one?
The soon-to-be 12 year old, I'll call him 'Butthead', is constantly picking on his 9 year old sister, 'Drama Queen' (DQ for short). No matter what DQ says, Butthead has to disagree. Or tell her she's stupid. Or fat. Or ugly. If the two of them are involved in a task together, he bosses her, demeans her, gets the youngest kid to gang up on her, hits her, you name it. DQ isn't really a drama queen. Well, at least not more than your average 9 year old. She tries to placate her older brother, Butthole- I mean Butthead. She goes out of her way to be nice to him about half of the time, but it doesn't work. So she whines and cries and gets frustrated. In turn, I get annoyed and frustrated at her constant whining and his constant picking, so they both end up in trouble. It's unfair to her that she gets in trouble for being offended at his unacceptable behavior. I'm also worried about what her brother is doing to her self esteem. She's not stupid, fat, or ugly. And even if she was, it's not his job to tell her that a million times a day.
We have tried to reason with him. Fail.
We have yelled at him. Temporary fix. As soon as we leave the room, he starts back up. Fail.
We have made him work. Outside. In the hot-ass sun for hours. Fail.
Even the Teenager has noted that his behavior is too much. There's room for good-natured teasing in our family, but we aren't offensive. If someone gets upset, then the teasing stops. We have always modeled this behavior. We teach our kids that it's not fun if only one person is laughing. That's bullying. We don't 'allow' our kids to talk badly to one another. We don't 'allow' them to be violent to each other. I know this will happen regardless of what we 'allow', but they know and have been taught how to act. I don't even like horseplay because they always end up fighting. We have always taught and encouraged our children to get along. My husband and I speak respectfully to each other (always) and to our kids (most of the time, except when they need a good ass-chewin' they get one).
I am at my wit's end. We are at the point of giving DQ permission to kick her brother's ass to 'teach him a lesson' (she could, ya know) when he's being a punk. What do you think?
*Maybe it's her real name, maybe it's not.