July 11, 2009
A: Your son is having difficulty establishing a waking/sleeping routine for himself, so you’re going to have to provide that structure for him. The solution to this problem is actually quite simple. Tell your son that his doctor says he doesn’t have to take a nap, but he does have to go to his room at 1:00 for two hours of quiet time, during which the whole house has to be a quiet place (meaning no television, stereo, long/loud phone conversations, and the like). He can play quietly in his room, but he can’t come out until 3:00. If you set the stove timer to announce the end of quiet time, he won’t be inclined to stand at the door asking “Is it time yet?” If he’s asleep when the timer goes off, wake him up. He’ll get into a new and better routine fairly quickly.
Q: Whenever our 11-year-old son has a friend over to play, our 15-year-old daughter interferes in ways that eventually reduce our son to tears. Mostly, she’ll make fun of him or make him the butt of cruel jokes. Is there some way of making her understand how hurtful she is being? Does our son simply need to ignore her? This sibling rivalry has become extremely disruptive to our family. Help!
A: There’s sibling conflict, which is almost inevitable. Then there’s sibling rivalry, which parents create by attempting to mediate sibling conflict. Then there’s outright verbal or physical bullying by one sibling toward another. You’re describing the latter, and believe me, your daughter is not going to stop bullying her brother because you try to help her see the error of her ways. Expecting your son to simply ignore his sister’s taunts is equally unrealistic.
Your son has a right to have a friend over without being victimized by his older sister. Since she obviously derives a great deal of perverse pleasure out of doing so (and since any attempt on my part to explain her behavior would be pure speculation, I’m going to cut to the chase), she’s not going to stop until you put the proverbial hammer down. The most effective way of doing so is simply to inform her that for the next month, whenever her brother has a friend over, she has to go to her room, shut the door, and stay there until the friend leaves. During said month, make sure lots of friends come over, and make sure they come over for long periods of time...hours! Have them spend the night!
At the end of her stint in bullying rehab, tell your daughter that if she’s ready to act her age when her brother has friends over, her life can return to normal. Inform her, however, that the next incident will result in a three-month rehab period, and that she will not obtain any driving privileges until she has completely solved this problem. That should get her attention.
Family psychologist John Rosemond answers parents' questions on his website at www.rosemond.com.
*About the Author: John Rosemond has written nine best-selling parenting books and is one of America's busiest and most popular speakers, known for his sound advice, humor and easy, relaxed, engaging style. In the past few years, John has appeared on numerous national television programs including 20/20, Good Morning America, The View, Bill Maher's Politically Incorrect, Public Eye, The Today Show, CNN, and CBS Later Today.
Visit Rosemond's Web site, www.rosemond.com. Currently, Rosemond is offering two of his books for the price of one.