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How to Recognize Sibling Bullying

Submitted by on July 7, 2014 – 1:38 pmNo Comment

How to recognize and deal with sibling bullying

Red Flags for Sibling Bullying

Guest post from Kids ‘R’ Kids

All siblings disagree at some point. For most children, the disagreements are small and easily resolved. For some children, the disagreements can escalate into more serious behavior, even bullying. Families are typically comprised of children with different ages, varying personalities, social habits, and talents. They communicate differently and have different emotions and tolerance levels. Each child, with their own individuality and ideas, seeks to have a voice and a place within the family structure. Disagreements and squabbles will naturally occur. As mentioned earlier, most will be small, but some may need your intervention.

A study published in the journal of Pediatrics found 32% of respondents reported some type of sibling bullying in the past year.  Researchers also found that bullying and aggressive behavior by a sibling can be as damaging as peer bullying and is linked to increased depression, anxiety and anger. Unfortunately, kids who are bullied at home are also likely to be bullied by their peers. The challenge for a parent is to recognize when harmless squabbles between siblings have elevated to bullying.

The following 4 questions may help you find if there are signals of concern in your family.

Does one of your children seem to exercise power over your other child?

If you notice an imbalance of power where a dominant child seems to control a quiet child, pay attention. Watch for signs of physical and emotional trauma. Pay special attention when property is taken or threats are made. This can be a very serious offense, which creates long-term emotional scars. In this case intervention is a must.

Is the controlling event beginning to escalate?

A situation can start as light-hearted and harmless teasing or playing, and quickly escalate to more aggressive behavior. If you hear insults, threats, or hurtful belittling, it’s time to intervene and stop the behavior.

Has your child’s personality or behavior changed?

Sometimes a bullied child does not know how to communicate his concerns and tries to keep it to himself. He can fear the consequence that may occur when the aggressive sibling learns he has told their parents. The confusion, stress, and hurt can lead to depression and other changes in behavior. When you notice a significant change in your child, don’t assume all is well. Sometimes it’s normal growth and development, but other times it can be a sign of a more serious matter. It’s always good to seek professional help to rule out any concerns.

Does your child seem threatened or afraid of a future event?

A little nervousness regarding a future event is normal for anyone. When a child experiences stress about an event that should be simple, it’s good to ask more questions. Make sure the pressure is not a result of a fear of consequences from a sibling.

Anytime a child becomes distant and isolated, ask questions and stay connected. When you see unexplained physical symptoms like a bruise, or stomachache, it’s definitely time to intervene. Communicate with your child and seek real answers. If you feel that you have done all that you know to do and nothing is working, don’t give up. Seek professional help and continue to work with your family until the issue is resolved and the sibling relationship is healthy again.

Kids ‘R’ Kids believes that happy, loved, connected children are destined for success in every facet of their lives. Our most cherished principle, “Hug First, Then Teach,” defines every aspect of who we are at Kids ‘R’ Kids. When it comes to teaching, Kids ‘R’ Kids understands the importance of involving families with their child’s developmental milestones and accomplishments. We hope you will drop by for a tour at one of our 12 locations in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. You will find a list of our locations on For ongoing solutions for childhood development feel free to contact us or schedule a visit at one of our many locations in the DFW area.

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