Home > Mom's Life > Family Relationships > Sibling Relationships > Older Daughter Is Mean to Sibling

Expert Iconexpert advice MORE

Older Daughter Is Mean to Sibling

Middle School Expert Advice from Connie Collins

Q: My 14-year-old daughter is mean to her 3-year-old sister. She shouts at her and gets mad at her for wanting to watch the same video over and over in her room. She doesn't like to share with her, but wants her little sister to share her little things with her. They share the same room for now until we move. My older girl hates to take her sister over to her friends' house so when she goes. I say to her: "If she can't go, you can't go." I see her friends with their younger siblings. Am I wrong for making her do this?

A: I know you want your daughters to care for each other, but by forbidding your older girl to visit her friends unless she takes her sibling is setting her up to resent the little sister you want her to care for. Your oldest daughter can't express her anger towards you, so of course she is going to take it out on her younger sister, who she sees as the cause of her pain.

What does a 3-year-old have in common with a 14-year-old? Would you want to watch the same video over and over again? Do you want your 3-year-old involved in teenage activities? Your insistence on forcing them together is harmful for both girls. My experience tells me that if you let the girls naturally share family activities -- meals, vacation time -- the "meanness" will disappear.

Because of the age differences it will be very difficult, if not impossible, for the girls to relate to each other in the close relationship. But they can develop a truly loving sisterly relationship if you let them develop it naturally and understand that each is at a different developmental stage. You say they won't have to share a room after you move. Stick to that promise and if at all possible separate them now. Your teen doesn't have enough space if she is sharing a room with a three-year-old.

More on: Expert Advice

Connie Collins, professional school counselor, worked for 35 years in public education as a teacher and counselor at the middle school and secondary levels. Collins worked daily with the parents of the students in her various schools, and has facilitated several parenting groups.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks


Healthy Smile Checklist for Kids
Have better dental check-ups with this free printable checklist that helps keep your child flossing, brushing, and smiling! Brought to you by Philips Sonicare.

Kindergarten Readiness App
It's kindergarten registration time! Use this interactive kindergarten readiness checklist, complete with fun games and activities, to practice the essential skills your child needs for this next big step. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

8 Easter Egg Decorating Ideas
Need some fun ideas for decorating Easter eggs with the kids? Look no further for colorful and cool designs!

7 Ways to Curb Kids' Exposure to Violence
American children are exposed to violence more often than you might think. Learn how to limit your child's exposure to violence and manage the mental health and behavioral effects it can cause.