At Sundance Canyon Academy, we often hear from parents who don’t know what to do when teens become violent toward their siblings. Our therapists have worked with a variety of families whose children struggle with violence and anger issues. We are writing on this topic today to help parents understand the steps they can take to curb anger outbursts and gauge when it’s time to intervene with more severe measures.
As siblings grow up together, there are going to be spats. They will argue and fuss with each other about all kinds of things. In almost all families, annoying your siblings is a popular pastime amongst kids. Similarly, nearly all parents get tired of listening to their children’s arguments.
Sibling rivalry is entirely normal and generally doesn’t escalate into anything of major concern. You may need to step in to teach your kids how to disagree respectfully and how to honor each other’s boundaries, but that’s about it. Competition between siblings is a regular part of childhood development, and it shouldn’t require a ton of extra attention on your part.
Sometimes though, arguments among siblings take on a much more serious tone. If your teen is violent toward their siblings, you have a problem on your hands. When sibling rivalry becomes physical, the entire household is affected. There is even more cause for concern if your violent teen is significantly larger or stronger than his siblings. In any case, you need to intervene effectively to prevent injury among your children.
Intervening to prevent sibling violence
In most cases of sibling violence, one sibling tends to be the aggressor, and the other tends to be the victim. The abuse often starts in early childhood, but it can become more noticeable as the children grow up. Likewise, the abuse can begin in the teenage years when step-siblings are introduced into the family.
Early intervention is crucial. The aggressive sibling needs to understand that their behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. Without parental intervention, the behavior will only escalate into a more dangerous situation.
Set rules for disagreements
Sibling aggression often begins as a minor disagreement that gets out of hand. If your teen is starting to take the arguments too far, call a family meeting and create ground rules for disagreements.
You can include specific rules about hitting, breaking things, yelling, name-calling, and more. Make sure that all of your children understand what is acceptable and what is unacceptable.
Set consequences for breaking the rules for disagreements
Soon after you set the rules for disagreements, your children will probably break them. If they are accustomed to behaving more aggressively, they are likely to continue that behavior whether they mean to or not.
So, set specific consequences for breaking the ground rules. Then, when your children break the rules, hold them to the consequences.
Intervene as many times as necessary
Your home needs to be a safe place for all of your children. No one should not worry that they might be in physical danger if they don’t cater to their teenage sibling. If your teen continues to be violent toward his siblings, intervene every time.
Involve outside resources
If your teen’s behavior becomes dangerous, you may need to contact the police to intervene. Until the situation is out of control, though, you might be able to utilize more proactive methods of violence prevention. Many teens who display violent tendencies benefit from therapeutic intervention to learn to manage their anger appropriately before it escalates too far.
If your teen son reacts violently toward his siblings, he might benefit from attending a boarding school for troubled teens. While in school, he would receive personalized treatment plans to address the root of his anger and teach him appropriate anger-management techniques.
Contact us today to learn more about our therapeutic approach to working with violent teens.