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JessicaSOS Grad
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Asked a question 2 years ago

My 4 and 5 year old are usually the best of buds, but quite a bit lately my 4 y/o daughter has taken great pleasure in denying her brother (5y/o) the attention he is seeking. For example, she demonstrates something with toys and then he would like to reciprocate but she starts to talk or sing loudly to herself ignoring his every attempt. He becomes very desperate and emotional begging her to please just listen. It breaks my heart 💔I have tried offering him my attention instead and explaining to him that she goads him because he reacts. I have tried to explain to her that she hurts her brother's feelings when she ignores him. I can't seem to get through to either. The frequency has been increasing and my little guy is inherently sweet, so I'm especially hurt to see him so upset. I feel myself becoming very aggravated with my daughter's seeming cruelty. I don't like to think she hurts him for "fun". Any advice you mama's have to offer on something I might be overlooking or not considering or anyway to get through to either of them?

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In Sibling Relationship Lab Partners you can ask and answer questions and share your experience with others!

If you think it really is a way to goad your son, I would isolate the child doing the taunting. I used to tell my son, “find your joy somewhere else.” He would seem to delight in agitating others.

If your daughter really needs space from your son, I would take that seriously as well. Sometimes my kids will request “alone” time. they just need to have space. As someone who needs space myself I tend to sympathize with this. 

Really I think it is important to see if you can discover the root cause of the behavior. Perhaps she is just discovering a new way to exert her authority over others. Or maybe a sensory issue. The solution could look different depending on that cause.