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My Eleven-Year Old Bullies Siblings In Family

Hello from Montana:

Just as your sweet little baby turns into a tyrant at two years old, your cooperative ten year old is changing also. Previously devoted to parents and other important adults and wanting to please them, now at eleven they are experiencing the beginning of the end of childhood. Though not  yet a teenager, eleven very often behaves as if he/she were an adolescent.

Makes Family Life a Battlefield

A child of this age makes little or no effort to cooperate in even the most minor ways, especially for the mom.  Eleven year old pre-adolesents tend to be at their worst with their mother.  They flare up with anger against restrictions and chores.  They also quarrel with siblings and get very angry very easily. They display their worst attitudes at home and that should give you some comfort.Teachers and youth leaders will usually be surprised if you describe the way the eleven year old acts at home.

Encourage Empathy and Kindness

Much of the obnoxious behavior can be attributed to sheer inexperience in making interpersonal relationships work. You can assist them in treating others with kindness by making it a family rule. A child will be less likely to tease or put her peers down if you make getting along with others a priority. The best way to get this relationship life skill to become a habit, is to praise others when they are kind.  Mention how it makes you feel when others treat you with respect.

When you make a habit of saying complimentary things about people and their accomplishments, your child will be likely to do so as well.

Teach About Appropriate Uses of Power

The desire for power is the primary reason for teasing, taunting and bullying others. Perhaps no other age gets on as badly as the eleven year old does with siblings.  Younger brothers and sisters may know that the fuse of anger is short, and so deliberately tease, needle or joke about him/her and even get into their private possessions.  Then when trouble occurs, the older one gets in trouble.

The fact is that a child who bullies others is not necessarily a troublemaker, but may need to learn more communication skills. Nor is the one being teased necessarily a victim.It is important to teach the difference between aggression, passive and assertive behavior.  Assertive behavior will build self confidence and help determine boundaries in relationships.

Choose To Get Along

Helping siblings recognize their options when rivalry or teasing occurs at home, will also help them navigate the school ground politics.  It is important that they understand you do not need to put others down in order to feel powerful.  You already have your own power- over his/her own behavior and over how to react if others tease them.

All children and adults need to learn empathy and to treat others with respect.

I have confidence in you.

Judy H. Wright aka Auntie Artichoke, family relationship author and keynote speaker

PS: If your family is having serious child behavior issues, please go to

You will be glad you did.

Article written by

Judy is a parent educator, family coach, and personal historian who has written more than 20 books, hundreds of articles and speaks internationally on family issues, including care giving. Trained as a ready to learn consultant, she works with Head Start organizations and child care resource centers.

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2 Responses to “My Eleven-Year Old Bullies Siblings In Family”

  1. Leigh Kolberg Says:

    OK good to see- informed blogs are always helpful! Peace.

  2. Pam Laux Says:

    I think we dealt with more bullying from other kids at school then we did with their siblings at that young age. Not that my three didn’t have a few issues here and there with their siblings when they hit 10, but the issues came more from school bullying. And now bullying comes in all forms, from mean texting, to facebook bashing and other cyber ways to pick on school friends. Whew, what’s a cool mom to do?! PS I joined facebook to keep up with my kids, but now have connected with so many people on so many levels through FB and Twitter, etc. Thanks for the article.