Advertisement
Thanks Thanks:  0
Likes Likes:  0
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 11

Thread: siblings sharing rooms....looking for thoughts and advice

  1. #1

    siblings sharing rooms....looking for thoughts and advice

    Hi, all.

    Well, just when I thought I was done with child rearing (my birth daughter is 22) I find myself with two step daughters, 12 and 8.

    The 12 year old has been living with her dad and me since April. She'd had a fairly unstable few years before that, and a few behaviour problems - tantrums, excessive activity, fighting at school and such. She's stabilizing fairly well since she's been here, with her own room, enough to eat and a basic set of rules for living.

    However, now, her younger sister will be thrown into the mix, and they will have to share a room again (as they have often before). I'm concerned because I think 8 and 12 are very different in their needs and behaviors, and also because I think having her own space and a place to "cool off" when she needs to have really contributed to the 12-year old's better attitude.

    I've done what I can to offer some private space within the room - they each have their own loft bed with desk, drawers and closet, and a curtain to shut of their desk area when they want, but still, I expect some friction. Any ideas on how to minimize the difficulties?

    Thanks
    wani

  2. Advertisement
  3. #2

    siblings sharing rooms....looking for thoughts and advice

    This isn't an uncommon problem, actually. It just isn't always feasible to create separate physical spaces for children but it is possible even under circumstances like those you describe to create psychological spaces. I think you've made a good start with the loft beds, curtains, separate desks and closets, etc.

    Other things you can try are:
    [list][*]try to arrange times when one or the other can be occupied elsewhere so that each gets alone time in her room[*]make sure that each is reminded of the importance of respecting the other person's privacy, belongings, and personal space[*]try to make time to spend with each of them individually, so that she gets full attention without having to compete with her sister - going for a walk, sharing some activity around the house, watching TV, going shopping, etc.[*]and then add in activities they can share together with you and without you[/list:u]
    You may be surprised, too - I don't doubt they will get on each other's nerves at times but even with that age discrepancy you may find that they are as much allies as competitors.

  4. #3

    Thanks for the thoughts!

    One other specific concern: When the older gilr has difficulties - like some misbehavior that leads to a reprimand - the younger one tends to "pile on", as in addiing her own comments and opinions or using sis's troubles as a way to get something she wants (like to select the next TV show). I've also seen the little one exhibit some pretty sophisticated manipulative behavior - like pushing her sister's buttons until she loses her temper and gets sent to timeout - so that little sis can gain something - like access to the computer that sis is no longer using.


    I've never had to live with a manipulative child before - both the 12 year old and my birth daughter are more the "heart on their sleeve and out their mouth" sort of kids. Any suggestions on strategies or resources for dealing with a child who manipulates?

    I suppose I should add this disclaimer: I believe that little sis is basically a sweet kid. I suspect she picked up these habits because she has felt so darned powerless in other areas of her life. It's my opinion that dad exacerbates this problem...he doesn't even notice when his youngest is being machivellian and falls right into her hands.

    Thanks again for any help
    wani

  5. #4

    Re: Thanks for the thoughts!

    Quote Originally Posted by wani
    I suppose I should add this disclaimer: I believe that little sis is basically a sweet kid. I suspect she picked up these habits because she has felt so darned powerless in other areas of her life. It's my opinion that dad exacerbates this problem...he doesn't even notice when his youngest is being machivellian and falls right into her hands.
    That's a tough situation. Both of my children are very manipulative!

    I think that if the younger does have more personal attention, she might not be as prone to exert so much control. Control is very important, especially for a child who is still learning how she fits into the world. Maybe you could give her more options?

    I don't know how the older one is but I've noticed that my daughter (four) is more prone to pushing buttons and doing anything to get her way when my son (nine) is having a hard time and acting out. Maybe David has a good explanation for why this happens.

  6. #5

    Re: Thanks for the thoughts!

    Quote Originally Posted by wani
    One other specific concern: When the older girl has difficulties - like some misbehavior that leads to a reprimand - the younger one tends to "pile on", as in addiing her own comments and opinions or using sis's troubles as a way to get something she wants (like to select the next TV show). I've also seen the little one exhibit some pretty sophisticated manipulative behavior - like pushing her sister's buttons until she loses her temper and gets sent to timeout - so that little sis can gain something - like access to the computer that sis is no longer using.
    Here's where you can make a huge difference -- to both of them -- by being vigilant to the early signs of such behaviors and intervening. Especially in the case of the "piling on" behavior: make it clear that you and her father are the parents and will take care of the correction and discipline issues and that she should, in effect, "mind her own business". That gives a very important message to both girls, in my opinion, and helps both of them to understand that disapproving of their behavior doesn't mean a lack of caring or abnadonment of their rights. One of the ways you help anyone to learn about respecting the rights and feelings of others is by respecting theirs and leading by example -- it seems to me that the situations you're describing here are perfect opportunities to do that.

    I've never had to live with a manipulative child before - both the 12 year old and my birth daughter are more the "heart on their sleeve and out their mouth" sort of kids. Any suggestions on strategies or resources for dealing with a child who manipulates?
    1. recognize that it's happening and in gentle ways head it off (i.e., make sure you're not rewarding it); and
    2. recognize the reasons it's occurring, which I think you already have some un derstanding of -- the younger one is entering into an established family and is not only the newcomer there but also the youngest -- she may well feel rather powerless and resorts to manipulation because she doesn't see another way to get the attention she needs -- show her that this won't work and that it isn't necessary (see above and previous post).

    I suppose I should add this disclaimer: I believe that little sis is basically a sweet kid. I suspect she picked up these habits because she has felt so darned powerless in other areas of her life. It's my opinion that dad exacerbates this problem...he doesn't even notice when his youngest is being machivellian and falls right into her hands.
    It might be helpful for you to help him understand that reinforcing this behavior isn't helpful for his daughter and that there are other and better ways to reassure her and give her positive attention. Understand that he may well be feeling some guilt around his daughters but he needs to know that the best way to "make amends" for whatever he is feeling guilty about is to be a loving and attentive father on the one hand but also a "teacher" -- when she gets older, her peers aren't going to tolerate manipulative behavior and she'll suffer badly then if she hasn't learned better ways of meeting her needs.

  7. #6

    Re: Thanks for the thoughts!

    Quote Originally Posted by Ash
    That's a tough situation. Both of my children are very manipulative!
    Actually, when you think about what the word "manipulative" means, ALL human beings are manipulative - we do our best to alter the environment and the people around us to maximize pleasure and minimize pain -- it's basically about getting our needs met. The difference is that most of us learn how to do it in less blatant ways and we learn to mix in a little empathy and perspective-taking as we get older -- young children don't know how to do that yet. Remember that we are ALL egocentric at birth -- at that point, the world exists only as an extension of ourselves and solely to serve our needs. We are truly the center of the universe at that stage. This isn't bad or sinful or evil: it is simply human nature.

    I think that if the younger does have more personal attention, she might not be as prone to exert so much control. Control is very important, especially for a child who is still learning how she fits into the world. Maybe you could give her more options?
    Exactly!

    I don't know how the older one is but I've noticed that my daughter (four) is more prone to pushing buttons and doing anything to get her way when my son (nine) is having a hard time and acting out. Maybe David has a good explanation for why this happens.
    They are both competing for your attention (and see above about egocentricity in young children): In that context, anything that increases negative attention toward the other is seen as an opportunity to gain more positive attention for oneself. Again, this is not evil or pathological - it is normal for children at that age.

  8. #7

    Re: Thanks for the thoughts!

    Quote Originally Posted by David Baxter
    Actually, when you think about what the word "manipulative" means, ALL human beings are manipulative - we do our best to alter the environment and the people around us to maximize pleasure and minimize pain -- it's basically about getting our needs met. The difference is that most of us learn how to do it in less blatant ways and we learn to mix in a little empathy and perspective-taking as we get older -- young children don't know how to do that yet. Remember that we are ALL egocentric at birth -- at that point, the world exists only as an extension of ourselves and solely to serve our needs. We are truly the center of the universe at that stage. This isn't bad or sinful or evil: it is simply human nature.
    Right, right, right! I suppose that "manipulative" isn't really the best expression to be using. I've had this conversation with the therapist that both my son and I used to see. She basically said "Don't we all want our own way??" LOL It's true! For most adults, we realize that we can't always get our way and we learn to deal with it.

    They are both competing for your attention (and see above about egocentricity in young children): In that context, anything that increases negative attention toward the other is seen as an opportunity to gain more positive attention for oneself. Again, this is not evil or pathological - it is normal for children at that age.
    Ah yes, I do see your point. I know that children will take negative attention if they can't get positive attention. Unfortunately, when one child is acting out it sometimes takes so much of your energy that the other child gets less of your time. :-( It's hard to stay level.

  9. #8

    Re: Thanks for the thoughts!

    Quote Originally Posted by Ash
    Ah yes, I do see your point. I know that children will take negative attention if they can't get positive attention. Unfortunately, when one child is acting out it sometimes takes so much of your energy that the other child gets less of your time. :-( It's hard to stay level.
    It is indeed. When your children are younger, you take your best shot and then worry and feel guilty because you'll later think of better ways of handling the situation.

    The good news is that once they become teens, you don't have to beat yourself up or second guess yourself any more -- they are quite happy to do it for you, by pointing out without fail each and every time you "do something wrong" or "blow it"... :o)

    Not long ago, one of my teenage sons said something like, "You really dropped the ball on this one, dad... there's no [Cheerios or chips or pickles or some other essential life-sustaining nutrient] in the pantry...". This of course after I had spent the day racing around doing errands and stocking that same pantry with groceries at the end of a full work week... ;o)

  10. #9

    Re: Thanks for the thoughts!

    Quote Originally Posted by David Baxter
    It is indeed. When your children are younger, you take your best shot and then worry and feel guilty because you'll later think of better ways of handling the situation.
    The price of being a parent. Wishing like heck that you could be perfect and do everything "right". I suppose that's the Holy Grail.

    The good news is that once they become teens, you don't have to beat yourself up or second guess yourself any more -- they are quite happy to do it for you, by pointing out without fail each and every time you "do something wrong" or "blow it"... :o)
    Oh boy. I hear that now! Course I hear more of "You don't let me do anything!" and "You're always so mean to me!". LOL

    Not long ago, one of my teenage sons said something like, "You really dropped the ball on this one, dad... there's no [Cheerios or chips or pickles or some other essential life-sustaining nutrient] in the pantry...". This of course after I had spent the day racing around doing errands and stocking that same pantry with groceries at the end of a full work week... ;o)
    Hahahaha! It's never enough!

  11. #10

    siblings sharing rooms....looking for thoughts and advice

    Thanks a lot for your insight. I think you hit the nail on the head about dad feeling guilty. I have to remind him frequently that nothing he can do or say or buy will make up for their mother's atrocious behavior, and that he should not in any way tie his parenting behaviors to anything she does or says.

    I'm sure things will work out, but honestly, I'm in a bit of a tither right now. We are a recently and hastily blended family to begin with. Dad moved in when it became obvious how badly big sis needed a stable female role model in April. (He and I have a good relationship, but it one that is too new for us to be living together under ideal circumstances, in my opinion). So, in addition to getting big sis settled in (which is going well, btw, good grades, joined the volleyball team, making friends) we've had quite a bit of backing and filling as we align our parenting approaches. And just when we were beginning to figure it out - we find out that little sis will be joining us! I'm happy that she's coming and confident that it will be better for all concerned for her to live here, but still, I'm anxious. Her plane arrives a week from today....

    :-)

    wani

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. Chat Rooms Help FBI Hunt for Pedophiles
    By David Baxter in forum Ethical and Legal Issues
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: June 13th, 2006, 06:43 PM
  2. What do you think about teenage rooms and privacy?
    By Mhefner in forum Ending Relationships: Separation and Divorce
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: October 25th, 2005, 05:03 PM
  3. Talking and sharing..
    By Laurie in forum New Members: Introductions
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: November 1st, 2004, 08:17 PM

Bookmarks

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  

Disclaimer: PsychLinks is not responsible for the content of posts or comments by forum members.

Additional Forum Web Design by PsychLinks
© All rights reserved.