Need help now?

Deliberately provoking younger sibling

Discussion forum for parents in Australia

Deliberately provoking younger sibling


Deliberately provoking younger sibling

For years our 16 year old son has provoked his younger sister. The pattern has been the same for years and nothing we do or say seems to help. He makes provocative little comments (insults or judgments) and she massively over reacts (mostly angrily raises her voice). He seems to have no respect for her and thinks she’s at fault as much as him for the ‘fights’. And sometimes these little mean comments do turn into fights in that she will hit her older brother at which point he does not hit back but smugly calls out her over reaction. Similarly if his jibes bring her to tears he’ll usually say she’s over reacting.
Of course we are coaching our daughter in moderating her over-reactions but this is something I understand and feel will improve with maturity and support. It’s my sons almost sub conscious meanness to her that I can’t understand or make headway with. We’ve asked him why he does it and he doesn’t seem to know. Does he enjoy making her upset?!
We’ve talked a lot about this situation as a family and recognising the relationship isn’t great he has at times made significant and genuine effort to stop the jibes and connect with her particularly by suggesting things they can do together. But his provoking, mean little comments soon come back and seem automatic and even sub conscious.
In so many other ways he is a very kind and very caring kid. But in this aspect of his life he is insensitive and disrespectful.
I want them to have a good relationship as adults but feel time is running out. What can I do?

Re: Deliberately provoking younger sibling

Message contains a hyperlink

Hey @MumOfThreeTeens 

This situation sounds really tricky for the whole family, thanks for coming here and sharing whats been going on for you. It's lovely to read that you've talked about this situation a lot as a family, having that open communication with all family members can really make such a difference.

I understand you've tried a few different things to get it to stop, but you say the mean comments soon come back, have you tried having an agreed upon consequence for when this happens?

I'm going to link a content piece from the Raising Children's Network about sibling fighting which has some suggestions that could be worth trying, one of them is having house rules that are agreed upon by everyone, is that something you could try?

Another one of the suggestions is to get some external support, starting with a GP to possibly link in with a psychologist, what do you think of this idea?

I'm not sure if this will be of any comfort, but I wanted to share my own experience that my brother and I fought wildly as kids and teens, but are now as adults the best of friends - we even decided to live together for a few years. I appreciate you feel time is running out, but please don't give up hope yet! You've clearly created a loving environment where your children are able to talk to you about how they are feeling and this will set them up to have great relationships as adultsHeart