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Sibling rivalry at 17 and 11

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Sibling rivalry at 17 and 11

Active scribe

Sibling rivalry at 17 and 11

My daughter (17) hates her sister (11) no it’s not violent, it’s just nothing, no words from 17 year old no conversation is ever entered into, my youngest try’s so bloody hard but you can literally feel the dislike when they are in the same room together. It’s so bloody cruel and my youngest will often be in tears wondering why she hates her.

It has been this way since my eldest started the teen years, however now as an almost adult she is still the same.

It’s so hard for my husband myself and for my youngest daughter. I know it’s not normal, I don’t know what to do about it other than to make my youngest daughter stronger.

Help, please tell me I’m not the only one to deal with this, what do I do? my eldest is adamant that it’s just the way it is and she can’t force herself to like someone she doesn’t, she doesn’t hate her but just doesn’t like her, they are her words. It’s heart breaking as a parent.

Casual scribe

Re: Sibling rivalry at 17 and 11

I wish i had words to help, but i dont. My 18 yo daughter treats her 15 yo brother so horribly. She has actually developed germaphobie with ocd towards him. She will not touch anything he touched, sit on anything he's sat on, the point of him developing issues with trying not to cross her to escape her wrath.
I share your heartbreak.
Star contributor

Re: Sibling rivalry at 17 and 11

Hi there @hermum76,

That truly would be heartbreaking seeing your youngest so upset by her older sisters coldness towards her. It would be only natural for her to be feeling like she is doing something wrong and doubting herself. Younger siblings tend to really look up to their older sibling. Building up your youngest to be resilient towards her sisters behavior is a really good idea. How have you been doing that? Even letting her know that she is not alone and that teenagers can be really mean sometimes could be helpful so she can learn not to take it personally. Do they share any similar interests? Perhaps you could see if your eldest could teach your youngest something or even take her out somewhere for the day? How do you think she would respond to that? 


Have you asked your oldest daughter if she needs support? Perhaps her actions towards her sister are representative of a larger issue she has? Its common for teenagers to experience symptoms of anxiety and depression. She could be feeling a number of things that make it hard for her to connect and show love and care towards her little sister. 
Often times siblings (especially sisters) become a lot closer as they get older. 

Personally I am an older sister with a similar age gap and was never interested in my sister as a teenager. I also was not very nice to her. She is now my best friend and I haven't ever been this close to anyone before. We realized as we both got older how much we understood each other better than anyone else and shared something that no one else could just by having the same set of parents. I dont think I could have understood the value of that at the age of 17 or even 21!


This is a very interesting topic, it would be good to hear what other experiences parents have had with sibling rivalry. It was really sad to hear your story about your son and daughter @Bnwcbw00 . Have you spoken to your 18 year old about what her fears are and tried to explore them a bit more with her?


Thanks guys for the discussion! Smiley Happy 



Parent/Carer Community Champion

Re: Sibling rivalry at 17 and 11

hi @hermum76 


It is heart breaking to see our children hurt, and to see it from someone we love is even worse.

I don't have a personal experience with this so I cant offer any wisdom based on what I found work.


How is your eldest with others?  Surely your eldest has had to learn to get along with others at school (maybe work?)


Your eldest is right she cant force her self to like someone she doesn't.  Nor can we force changes in the way our children feel about things.  What she CAN do as a parent is demand your is our children behave in civil manner towards others.  


The reality is your eldest needs to learn to positively interact with people she doesn't like as she moves in to university / work.  


I would suggest observing the behaviors of your eldest and identify which ones are unacceptable and addressing the behaviors with your eldest. Teens are the masters on non-verbal messages so be sure to look for 

  • rolling eyes
  • big huffs and sighs
  • abrupt answers or ignoring conversations etc etc.

Maybe ask your youngest what upsets her the most and if that is something that is unacceptable address that with the eldest.


When raising it with the eldest, I suggest addressing the behavior with out the youngest around.  Make it about the eldest having to learn to behave civilly with those she doesn't like because you have to when you are an adult.