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Sibling Problems
Sometimes you love them, sometimes you don't...that's what brothers and sisters are all about. Get advice from the IML experts and Mentors on all sorts of sibling situations.
   
Advice Topics:

Advice Questions about Sibling Problems:

  • GOMy 10 year old brother is ALWAYS hitting me and bugging me when I don't do anything wrong. Lately I have gotten really frustrated and said, ‘Why do you always do this to me?’ and he says, ‘Because I can!’ It makes me so mad. I'm afraid he’s gonna become a bully because he just doesn’t seem to care about other people's feelings or anything. He even talks back to our mom! Help!

  • GOMy brother has a girlfriend and now he cares more about her than me. My brother and I have always been really close. He is always talking on the phone with her. But I really like his girlfriend and she's nice to me...it's just he likes her more than me!

  • GOMy younger brother is so mean but I am very nice to him. When I have friends over he bugs us, and he recently started playing pranks on me. I told my mom but he said that he would do no such thing. Also, he embarrasses me around random people!

  • GOMy older brother and I are always fighting. He always calls me names and tells me I'm short. My friend and her brother are really close and nice to each other. How can I strengthen my relationship with my brother?

  • GOMy older brother Adam is so rude and mean to me. Every time I try to make things fair, he calls me names and says things like, "I'm surprised anyone even likes you.’ I always try to do nice stuff for him but he always says I am stupid or something. He always accuses me of lying or doing things I don't do. I've tried talking to him about it but he doesn't listen, and if he finds out a secret he tells his friends and embarrasses me. I really want us to stop fighting and be closer, but nothing works. I'm tired of it and I want it to stop. Can you help?

  • GOI used to make up really fun games with my sister when we were little. Now I'm in sixth grade and she's in first. She always whines when I don't want to play her kind of games. I feel like our relationship is tearing apart. For example, when I talk to my friends on the phone she asks me dumb questions and yells. When they come over, she is rude to them and embarrasses me! It is getting worse. HELP!

  • GOI have my own room and when I'm in there I like to be left alone unless it is totally important. Dad always opens my door and lets my sisters Madison, 1, and Natalie, 7, in the room! And then I have to pack up everything that I'm doing, which usually involves felt-pens and stuff, and that really stinks. What can I do to stop my Dad from doing this?

  • GOLately it seems like my younger sister is ‘in my shadow,’ and I think it's upsetting her and affecting our relationship as siblings. People always tell me I'm the ‘perfect child’ -- intelligent, talented, and whatever else -- and I have a lot of friends. Sometimes she gets really upset, and my parents tell me that she has low self-esteem sometimes because she feels she can't live up to my image

  • GOMe and my little sister have a 6 year age difference. We argue about everything, we never get along and we never agree on anything. She whines too much and gets everything her way. Then she copies me and it's frustrating. IML, please give me advice so I can deal with her attitude and stop arguing with my sister!

  • GOI have to share a room with 2 younger siblings. I hate it, because they always wreck my things, I have an invasion of privacy, and it's hard to get my schoolwork done. I asked my parents for my own room, but they said no because they need the other extra room to store stuff! What do I do?

  • GOMy brother Kevin and I used to have so much FUN! He's in grade 11 and I'm going into grade 7. But he has a new girlfriend. She is SO mean -- all of his friends says shes mean too. She calls me names like Garbage Picker and Outcast Fatto! Kevin always laughs at these names too. I want to hurt her back, but I don't want my brother to get mad!! Please help me!

  • GOIm afraid for my older sister Kathy. She cries herself half sick almost every night. Shes 15 and has a lot of friends and is popular. I don't know if shes on drugs or something, but shes very sad. How can I talk to her and my mom and dad about it?

  • GOI think my brother's becoming a bully! I've already talked to my dad, but he's not doing anything. My brother's 4. He says things like, 'If you don't do what I want, I wont let you do something you like to do.' He's only 4, so he can't do any damage, it's his attitude I'm worried about. Please tell me what to do!

  • GOI'm the youngest of four, so I'm last at everything and it's like it doesn't matter as much as when my brothers did stuff. What should I do?

  • GOI'm in fifth grade now, so I have a lot more homework. My little sister is really upset that I can't play with her as much as I used to. What can I do to make her happy and still be able to do all my homework?

  • GOI found out my brother has been on some Web sites that he shouldn't be on. I feel like I need to tell my parents, but I don't want him to be embarrassed. What should I do?

  • GOMy sister, Angel, has a crush on a celebrity. She is SO in love with him. She talks about him 24/7, dreams about him, and plans their wedding. She hasn't even met him yet. She is so obsessed, it is making her sad and not very social. Please help me!

  • GOMe and my sister always used to fight, but towards the end of last summer, we became really close. You know, we would share clothes and hang out like real friends. But now she has a boyfriend, and she spends all her time with him and completely ignores me! I really miss the way we used to be, and I've tried to confront her about it without directly coming out and saying whats wrong. But she doesn't get it! I just want things to go back to the way they were!!!

  • GOMy little brother is only 2, but he drives me crazy! My parents say our age difference is so far apart it shouldnt matter, but it does! He's ALWAYS following me around, and when I try to be nice to him he tries to bite me or spit at me! I don't want to hurt him but I'm afraid I might, what should I do?

  • GOIm the youngest in my family. My sister is 23 and works in the city, and my brother is 30 and owns a pizzeria. Im close to them but never see them, and on the weekends I end up so dead bored. My mom and my friends are always busy on the weekends. What can I do to make my siblings spend more time with me?

  • GO"My sister is being mean to me and trying to be the boss of me."

  • GO"My little sister is getting on my nerves. She won't stop talking!"

  • GO"How do you deal when your brothers and sisters always have you in the 'annoyance zone'?"

  • GOMiranda and Nicole need help because their younger sisters are always taking their things.

  • GORead what our Mentors and experts have to say if you are being physically hurt or threatened by a brother or sister.


Dear IML,
My sister, Kelly, is always being mean to me and trying to be the boss of me. She always picks on me and puts me in the downers. What should I do?
--Jennifer, 11

An expert responds:
From Faye Terrebonne Arco, M.Ed, Drug Prevention School Safety Specialist, PPS - School Counseling

Dear Jennifer,
Have you tried talking to your sister in private? Would it help to explain to her how this is making you feel? Perhaps you could try an "I-Message" such as "When you boss me around, I feel unhappy because we're sisters and we're supposed to stick up for each other." (You can print out an
I-Message Worksheet that will help you with this.) Maybe you could turn the solution into a game by asking your sister to switch places with you for two hours. In those two hours, she would behave as she sees your behavior, and you would behave as you see her behavior. At the end of the time, you could talk and maybe laugh about what you noticed. Sometimes we have to see ourselves as others see us to understand. I know it's hard, but patience may also help. Let your sister know you love her. I hope everything works out for you.

The IML mentors respond:

Dear Jennifer,
It must be really hard living with someone who's always picking on you! There are a few things you can do. You can try to talk to your sister and tell her how you feel. If you don't want to approach her, you should try telling your parents. Your parents can talk to her or maybe you guys can go see a family therapist. When I was really young I used to pick on my younger brother. We saw a family therapist and it helped a lot. My brother and I got even closer because of it! Good Luck!
--Jenna, IML Mentor

Dear Jennifer,
I have a younger sister myself, and when we were little I was very, very bossy and made my sister feel awful. Looking back on it, we both realize that I was going through a hard time and I was taking it out on my sister. Now, this wasn't a fair way to deal with my feelings, but it does explain my behavior. Why don't you try talking to your sister about how she makes you feel? I had no idea that I was making my sister feel bad when we were little, so maybe your sister doesn't know either. If talking to her doesn't work, then try giving her some space for a while so she can work out her own feelings. You might also want to try talking to your parents.
--Elizabeth, IML Mentor

Dear Jennifer,
I can really relate to your issue - except that I've been the one bossing people around and making them feel bad. Just the other day, I made my sister cry because I was snapping at her all day and speaking to her in a mean voice. She didn't say anything, but I realized that I hurt her feelings when I stood next to her and she started to cry. I asked her what was wrong and she said, "You've been snapping at me all day, and talking to me in a mean voice, and I didn't even do anything to you". Boy, did I feel like a jerk. I realized something about myself that may be true for your sister, too. I take out my bad feelings on my sister because she is there, and she will not say anything back. I boss her around a lot and tell her what to wear if she wants to go somewhere with me. I'm always finding something wrong about what she's doing or saying. I feel I try to correct her because I love her, but the way I say it is wrong. When she told me how she felt and stood up for herself, I realized that just because she wasn't defending herself didn't make what I was doing OK. Now I try my best to watch my tone of voice with her and what I say.
--Johanne, IML Mentor

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Dear IML,
My sister is 8 and she gets on my nerves like, all the time! Her name is Allison and you tell her to shut up a million times and she just won't stop! How do I make her stop??????????
--Jeannie, 11

An expert responds:
From Faye Terrebonne Arco, M.Ed

Dear Jeannie,
Being an older sister is tough. You want to have patience with Allison, but it's hard. Is it possible that Allison wants your attention and would do anything to get it? Maybe she thinks aggravating you will get you to notice her and do things with her. Remember when you were 8 and learning how to get along with people? Allison may feel like no one listens to her and so she just keeps on talking, hoping to be heard. Could you try making a deal with her? Maybe you could set aside some special time each day to do something with Allison that she chooses. In return, Allison would do something with you that you choose that may not require talking, such as playing a video game, watching TV, or reading. You might also be able to explain to Allison that you need some time on your own. You might want to go to a friend's house or participate in an afterschool activity for kids your own age. Be patient, Jeannie. One day Allison may be your very best friend!

The IML mentors respond:

Dear Jeannie,
I grew up with a younger sister and I know that sisters can seem a little annoying at times, but it's really just their way of getting attention. Okay, occasionally they just want to be obnoxious, but I have found that almost every time my sister has started to annoy me, it's because she just wanted me to play with her, or even just acknowledge that she was there and she was my sister. I never felt that my younger sister looked up to me when we were little, but now I realize that she did (and maybe still does) and all those times she was annoying me, she just wanted my approval.
--Elizabeth, IML Mentor

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Dear IML,
Can anyone out there can answer this question? How can you deal with the annoyance of your brother or sister, and how can you stay out of the "annoyance zone?"
--Megan, 9

The IML mentors respond:

Dear Megan,
Unfortunately, having a brother or sister means you have to deal with the "annoyance zone." Take it from someone with a younger brother. When you live with someone close to your age, it's impossible to never get annoyed with him or her. It's the same thing as spending too much time with a friend; eventually you're going to get kind of sick of that friend. Whenever I'm annoyed with my brother, I always try to stay away from him for a little bit so we won't fight. If I give myself time to cool down, then I won't feel so annoyed anymore. Despite how annoying your brother or sister might be, remember this: friends can come and go, but your sibling will always be there for you! Good Luck!
--Jenna, IML Mentor

Dear Megan,
I know exactly how you feel. I have a younger brother who annoys me all the time and he annoys me in order to get attention. I ignore him, and since he doesn't get the attention he wants, he has stopped. If you try this and your sister doesn't stop annoying you, maybe the best thing to do would be to tell your parent about how much she annoys you and see if that helps. But Megan, if none of these work, just remember that even though siblings can be annoying, you still have to love them!
--Danielle, IML Mentor

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Dear IML,
My sister will not leave any of my stuff alone. I ask her to stop messing with my stuff, but she won't. Help!
--Miranda, 12

Dear IML,
I can't keep my little sister Taylor out of my stuff. Every time I go to get something out of my room, things are missing! I tried telling my mom. I have no clue about what I should do. PLEASE HELP!
--Nicole, 11

An expert responds:
From Faye Terrebonne Arco, M.Ed

Dear Nicole and Miranda,
This is one of the hardest things about being a sister. I remember when my little sister wouldn't leave my stuff alone or stay out of my room. Maybe you could ask your Mom or Dad for ideas to teach your sisters to respect your privacy. Another idea might be to create a box or bin of things that your sisters could have access to in your room. You might be able to keep them out of your other things if they have a place to explore in your room. It could be hidden treasures to them. Could you get a lock box for your valuables and store it out of their reach? This may control the missing items for you, Nicole. Good luck, girls! I know you can find a peaceful solution.

The IML mentors respond:

Dear Nicole and Miranda,
I have a sister who's a year older than me and we've been roommates ever since I was 3. When we were young, we used to go through each other's stuff because we didn't understand what privacy was. I think the first and the most important thing to do is to talk to your sister about it. Sometimes they don't really realize that they're getting on your nerves. If they're doing it just to make you mad, tell a parent about it, and explain how serious this is to you. My last word is this: if you don't want your sister to go through your stuff, you've to make sure that YOU don't go through her stuff.
--Joyce, IML Mentor

Dear Nicole and Miranda,
I also have a younger sister who used to help herself to whatever she wanted to in my room. I can understand just how frustrating it can be when you look away for a moment and your belongings are missing. One thing you might discuss with your parents is to get a lock on your door for when you are NOT in your room. Another thing is to try talking to your little sister about not taking what does not belong to her. You may even want to reward her for leaving your stuff alone by letting her borrow something from your room as a treat for asking and not just taking. Your younger sister probably just wants to be just like you and is trying to act like you by using your things. Good luck!
--Leah, IML Mentor

Dear Nicole and Miranda,
I know how you both feel. I am the oldest of five children and sometimes the younger kids will go into my room and mess it up. My little sister, who is 9, loves to play with my makeup. I told her that if she asked first, instead of going into my room and taking it, I would let her play with it. That has helped a lot. I hope I've helped. Good luck.
--Cyntianna, IML Mentor

Dear Nicole and Miranda,
I have a little sister, too, and when she was younger, she would always find her way into my things. My sister said that she took my stuff because she was bored and lonely since I never play or spend time with her. I promised that I would let her play, use, or borrow whatever she wanted from my room as long as she asked me first, did not destroy it, and returned it ASAP. If I wasn't there, and she really needed something, she had to write me a note saying what she took, why she took it and when she would give it back. It took a little while for her to get into the habit of doing that, but if she didn't, I would take her "borrowing privileges" away. I hope these suggestions work for you.
--Johanne, IML Mentor

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Dear IML,
I keep on getting beat up by my brother Matt who is 10 years old and he cannot even make his bed. I cry because I have a bad life. I cannot talk to anybody because I am too shy and I might even cry if I talk to my mom or anybody else.
--Jennifer, 8

Dear IML,
I was thinking about running away because my sister said if she were my mom, she would kill me. So should I run away or not? Answer back please.
--Rachel, 11

An expert responds:
From Josephine Schiff, MSW, LCSW, school social worker in Union City, NJ public schools

Dear Jennifer and Rachel,
It's hard to live in a situation where your brothers and sisters aren't like those you see on TV. No one should physically threaten or beat you up. You do not deserve this treatment! Your brother and sister are the ones that have the problem. I could not begin to explain why they treat you like they do; however, often brothers and sisters are jealous of each other because they think that the other one is getting more love and attention. The one thing I do know for sure is that you must tell your parent(s) what is happening. Print this and show it to them if you're having trouble finding the words. Running away is dangerous. Let people know what your brother or sister is doing and saying to you -- even if they tell you not to tell. Good Luck and let us know what happens.

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