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Being aggressive with sibling

MaudQ profile image

Our adhd/anxious 10yo daughter can get really aggressive with her little brother. Often this happens when we are not around - like at school or with a sitter. Her therapist has recommended the consequence of losing a play date. This has worked pretty well - but not all the time. Any suggestions for an immediate, on the spot consequence? Thanks.

6 Replies

Can you give us more details please? How old is your daughter and brother? Does your daughter take any medication or anything else to help with the ADHD? Is this aggression when the medication wears off?

Do you think this is just play but she doesn't know how to stop?

Would love to help, but we need some more details.


MaudQ profile image
MaudQ in reply to Onthemove1971

Older sister is 10, younger brother is 7. She has both anxiety and ADHD and we have been advised to deal with the anxiety first. She started on Lexapro a week ago - so no results there yet. She has a consequence that she loses a play date if she gets physical with her brother. This works really well at home with us. But the babysitter is having a hard time enforcing the rules at the end of the day when everyone is tired.

At our house, we have a “when you can behave around people, then you can be with people” rule - so, usually a time out in an adjoining room. Depending on the nature of the aggression (was it mean spirited, or just over zealous), I may approach less as punitive & more of a “I see you need to calm down. Please have a seat while you get yourself under control”, possibly accompanied by a glitter bottle or something calming.

Our typical example is getting wound up at the dinner table. He gets a warning. After that, he is sent to eat in the kitchen (of which we generally do not respond to him, though I play that by ear.) After a few minutes, I tell him he can rejoin us when he feels he can keep control. There can be a lot of back & forth to the kitchen the first few days, but eventually he gets it.

I also be sure to give praise during times when he is behaving appropriately, even on days when he hadn’t acted up yet. I also praise for partial steps & attempts to get under control. “Thank you for trying deep breaths to calm yourself. Keep going!”

Finally - I find discipline tactics more effective if they are an immediate natural or logical consequence of the behavior. Hence the “if you can’t behave with me, you can’t be with me until you do” rule, versus something in the future like a play date or something not related like screen time.

Mudpies profile image
Mudpies in reply to Pennywink

Our son goes to his room when he needs to take a break or until he can behave appropriately. If it was mean spirited he has to stay for a certain amount of time. If he needs to calm down then he stays as long as he needs to. It’s not easy to always have to be on guard and never be able to relax. At least that’s the hardest part for me. I always want to respond immediately and that is not always easy.

MaudQ profile image
MaudQ in reply to Mudpies

To both mudpies and rckline, this is what we need: a more immediate, short term consequence. She won’t go to her room for a time out because her anxiety makes her panic if she’s alone. But going into the other room could help. What’s tricky is that often this happens in public (the example I used in my original post happened in the school lobby at the end of the day.) Also, we need rules that the babysitter can use and enforce ...

Pennywink profile image
Pennywink in reply to MaudQ

My son use to have anxiety issues being alone, which is why we haven’t sent him to his room. When he was younger, I’d even stay in the room he’s having a time out in, but not make eye contact or respond until he’s ready to be polite. It also gives me some time to think.

We’ve done time outs in public & even in the car (just remove my attention from him.) If possible, we find a place to sit & I remove my attention from him until he’s is ready to be respectful. It might get you some attention if they are freaking out in public - but stick with the plan. But honestly, I think the pressure we give ourselves for having perfect kids in public is usually much harsher than what anyone else is thinking.

We have also followed up on threats to leave if it’s a place that he wants to be, like a restaurant & Once even while camping (that was a pain - probably could have thought of an easier option there. Lol!) But I find it better to keep trying & practice behaviors in public than to just hide away at home.

Role-playing & modeling appropriate behaviors when things are calm also helps us a lot. Like trying a fast food place (someplace quick & easy to leave if needed) during his good hours (usually morning), or something non-crucial - like shopping, but not for immediate needs you’ll be frustrated if it isn’t bought. Church has been a great place for practicing behaviors for us, as many people have known him for years & are very patient with kids.

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