Helping easy children cope


New Member
For those who have a difficult child, older than an 'easy' child, how do you counsel the easy child to handle bullying or overbearing behaviour when you are not around.

On the one hand, you don't want the easy child to do anything to escalate the situation but on the other, is he just to let her walk all over him?

How do your easy children cope with difficult siblings?


Well-Known Member
How do your easy children cope with difficult siblings?
I wish I had recognized the problem much earlier... so I don't have advice based on experience at a younger age.

Do you have close friends or family near by? If so, your easy child needs the option to walk out - to a safe place. Standing up to a difficult sibling without parents around, can be very problematic, especially when the difficult sibling is either older or bigger (i.e. the easy child may be an older sister... but by age 15, a young male can be pretty big and pretty strong!). It's called having a safety plan.

For us, things got bad enough that we had to actually schedule time for one parent to take easy child out of the house for activities, just to maintain sanity.


member since 1999
Hi Beam and welcome,

If you could do a signature, it would help a lot. Click on your name in the upper right hand corner and then click on "signature". Just ages of kids, which one is your challenging one, and maybe that you're in Europe would help since I'm sure things are done a bit differently there. :)

Your son (and you) have the right to be safe in your own home. Age 12 is far too young to have to deal with the raging of an older sibling, in my opinion, especially when it's her stated intention to menace him. That is abuse, plain and simple. It's especially concerning if he's left alone with her - our challenging kids can be real masters at torturing sibs.

It would be good to come up with a safety plan for him. When daughter starts her threatening behavior, son should... go to a friend's house, go to the park, go to a safe room in your home.... whatever works for your situation. My bias would be to make sure he's able to go somewhere there's an adult so that he's not having to manage this by himself. It's not a matter of letting her walk all over him - it's protecting him from her. And he should not be having to defend himself in his own home.

My younger kids learned early to head to my room when things got violent around here. I kept toys/TV/etc in there for them so they weren't being punished for my challenging kid's behavior. But the reality is, his behavior affected them anyway. If I had it to do over again, I would try harder to shield them from his rages.

If items were being thrown or broken, or my kid was threatening to harm me or the siblings, I called 911. The way I looked at it, I wouldn't have tolerated that kind of behavior from a spouse in my own home - I sure as heck wasn't going to tolerate it from a kid. I remember feeling completely impotent when it came to controlling my challenging kid, but.... sometimes you just have to call in reinforcements.

Sorry your family is going through this. Gentle hugs.


New Member
I added my signature, SLSH. :)

There is only me in the house but there are places that Easy Child can go if he has to leave. To be honest there are very few circumstances when they are alone together.

It's more the petty day to day stuff. For example, she might target where he is sitting and demand that spot. Or he'll be watching something and she just changes the channel.

These might be little things individually but they are not little to him. Especially when she does it constantly. So, if I am not in the room when it happens and he tells me, he looks (and feels) like he is being whiney. Privately, I tell him to try not to get confrontational with her but he asks me - then what can I do, have I just to let her push me around?

The big blowouts are bad but these constant niggling and unpleasant power plays are also very wearing. I don't really know what to tell my boy to do because I don't know what to do myself. Is it worth another rage and breakage over who sits closest to the phone charger? So she gets away with it again and I have just enabled it, haven't I?

Difficult Child has not had any kind of formal diagnosis yet. Other than admitting that yes, she is very difficult, I have not had a discussion with my son about how Difficult Child behaves this way because she is ill not because she is evil. I am not sure how much difference it will make to him when I do tell him. He still has to live through it every day. :(


Well-Known Member
I have not had a discussion with my son about how Difficult Child behaves this way because she is ill not because she is evil. I am not sure how much difference it will make to him when I do tell him. He still has to live through it every day.
Yes it makes a difference. Hard to explain when they are really young, but he is more than old enough to get the picture.

I assume he has his own room? In that case, can that become a refuge for him? Add things to his room that are important to him and that she can't access. His own phone charger, for one thing. Maybe a small TV? Going this route will require a lock on his door - so he can keep her out, both when he is in there and when he is not. Otherwise, she will just destroy those things.


Active Member
Well if you had a babysitter abusing your child, you might do something like install a video camera to catch them in the act of abusing your child...

Note you DO have a babysitter who IS abusing your child! The only difference is that the babysitter is also your child. So same solution. Get a video camera system - these are quite cheap these days.

Other options are a "safe room"...

Or a neighbor's "safe house" to which your child could go...

East Bay baby-sitter arrested for child abuse was caught on 'nanny cam'...


Well-Known Member
I worry about my dear little granddaughter, too. Her brother sucks all the air out of the room and is so scary for all of us when he has his temper flares. Last week he threw a metal spoon at her head and missed, thankfully, and the spoon hit the flatscreen TV so hard it shattered it. I can only imagine if that had hit her. To give him credit, he scared the bejeesus out of himself when he realized how close he came to hurting her. He has never hurt a child or animal. He's actually very kind and trustworthy with small kids, especially. If I even raise my voice to my three year old grandson, Difficult Child with take me to task and get upset. These things tend to happen more at their mother's house than ours. My husband is on top of him at our house and doesn't trust him any farther than he can throw a handful of glue. Dear granddaughter is so quiet about it all, doesn't complain, and is so calming and compassionate for him. We bring her to her brother's appointments sometimes, but she doesn't have much to say. She's a wonder child, truly. But I know there's a price being paid. We arrange Mom and granddaughter time, set up playdates for her, etc. We watch her very carefully and she was having stomach pains, which concerned us. We found out that she is lactose sensitive so limiting the dairy has really helped. She eats well, sleeps well, and is doing great in school. But I wouldn't be surprised if she doesn't get fed up at some point and start expressing more of her negative feelings.


Well-Known Member
She's a wonder child, truly. But I know there's a price being paid. We arrange Mom and granddaughter time, set up playdates for her, etc.
It is good that you are recognizing her need for time with mom and grandma. It does more for her than you may realize. As she gets older, you may want to seek out an activity that suits her interests and which is a world apart from her brother. These kinds of mental health breaks are life-savers.
Difficult Child's brother is 3 years older. We never left them alone together when they were growing up. We never left Difficult Child alone when he was growing up. Since getting the correct diagnosis and medications, we've been able to gradually leave him alone longer times. He's 15 now and can be alone all afternoon on his own. He gets bored easily and doesn't have common sense, so we still have to tell him he's not allowed to use any appliances or go for a walk farther than a certain distance. Last winter he almost set the house on fire. He decided to make a heated cat bed for our cat and placed a cardboard box on top of a space heater and then a blanket over it. He proudly showed me his invention and I immediately shut the heater off and explained how dangerous it was and not to ever do that again.

We always thought his older brother was handling things well, but the past couple of years he's been really nasty to Difficult Child. Always making snarky remarks and getting him riled up. We think it's resentment from all the years he had to put up with Difficult Child's behavior. Brother has been to a therapist several times and we've talked to him several times, but we still haven't been able to get him to stop. He graduates from HS this spring and will be off to college in the fall. Maybe we'll have some peace when it's just Difficult Child at home. Sigh...


New Member
Thanks all,

Isn't it awful feeling when you look forward to your own child going out or visiting relatives for a few days just so you can breathe.

I know his big sister has been a bully to him. To a certain extent, I think all siblings squabble. I know I did with my big brother. Love him to pieces now but I could not see him far enough when we were growing up.

For a while, I have been lost in a fog, thinking is this normal? Surely this can't be normal? Does everybody live like this? When I mention that my teenage daughter is difficult I get rolling eyes and people telling me that yes, girls are harder than boys. It's been easy to tell myself that it is a phase, it is hormones, it is ... being a girl.

I've really only begun to trust my own instinct quite recently that something is very wrong. I knew it. I just did not want to believe it. :(

My Easy Child has his own room and he can lock himself in if he chooses to. He always locks it when he goes out because he is sick of her stealing his stuff.


Well-Known Member
Walking away is a productive way to handle a bully. You don't have to stand/sit there and be the bully's punching bag (verbal or otherwise).


Active Member
Our easy child is 6 and Difficult Child is 10. At 10, I can't leave Difficult Child by himself, much less leave him alone with his brother. Not even to go to the Walgreen's down the street for a quick something.

When easy child was younger he did everything Difficult Child told him to do, but now that he's getting order, he's starting to defend himself and even, at time, become the aggressor because that is what he has learned from Difficult Child. It's like he's trying on Difficult Child's behavior to see what it feels like. The are starting to resonate off of one another more and more to the point that if I don't do anything and try to let them sort it out on their own, it will go on all day long, or at least until I get tired of it and separate them for a while.

I feel bad for our easy child because he does get the sort end of the attention stick. Difficult Child hogs all the attention. Even when I'm paying specific attention to easy child, Difficult Child will do something to draw it away. Also, for a long time I held back on things easy child deserved because of the fits we would get from Difficult Child. Difficult Child gets angry if his brother gets something and he doesn't. I've corrected that though. It's now fair to easy child. Now if easy child's behavior has been and good and Difficult Child's has not, I reward easy child. Maybe one day Difficult Child will see that if he acts appropriately, he'll get rewarded too.


Well-Known Member
Even when I'm paying specific attention to easy child, Difficult Child will do something to draw it away

This is a suggestion from a friend of mine with neurotypical kids... but I found it was a good mindset even in our difficult situation.

Take each child out of the house on a special "date" on a regular basis. To an ice cream shop, coffee shop, a stroll in the mall... whatever the KID finds enjoyable. On this "date", treat them more like a friend and less like a kid - find out who they are, what they are feeling. Let them be free to talk and free to be themselves.