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Dear David Coleman: My teen son is being so mean to his little sister that she is crushed

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Your daughter will also need your time and attention with regard to the impact of her brother's behaviour

Your daughter will also need your time and attention with regard to the impact of her brother's behaviour

Your daughter will also need your time and attention with regard to the impact of her brother's behaviour

Q I have two children aged 14 and seven. They had their usual ups and downs together but since we have been in the house all the time, I feel like their relationship has hit rock bottom. My older boy is so cruel to his little sister. She is only seven and adores the ground he walks on but he is rude and dismissive to her. When he's not locked away in his room, he snaps at her or is mean to her, saying she's fat or nosy or stupid. It is breaking my heart to see her so crushed, but I can't seem to get through to him that he needs to be nicer to her.

David replies: There is no doubt that being so restricted in our movements and not having the usual distractions of school, friends and hobbies is putting pressure on many families and many sibling relationships. Part of the difficulty you face is that your children are at such different developmental stages that it is hard for them to find stuff that they might want to do together that would feel fun for them both.

However, it is worth checking in with your 14-year-old about how he is coping with the lockdown. It may be that he is really struggling with some aspects and taking out that negativity on his sister. Perhaps he is carrying a lot of worry, hopelessness or frustration. Have you any sense of whether he has been able to stay in touch with his friends? How does he feel about the virus? About his future, or the near future in terms of getting back to "normality". Do you know how he is spending his time in his room?