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I'm 19 and have a 16-year-old sister. When I was laying on my bed minding my own business, my sister, who was still angry over something, came over and bit my hand. Like really bit my hand, which left teeth marks.

I am at my wits' end! I can't figure out what I should do about the biting. I've looked online for help but no one seems to be having this problem. She has been known to bite me when she's angry, but then she tries to manipulate me into thinking her biting is okay and I'm the one to blame because I'm older. I can't do anything, to make her understand. I'm the eldest and she the "baby" so my parents won't get involved.

Please give me some advice.

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    Bite back (is what I would do if a five year old bit me. Not hard enough to damage, but enough to hurt) or hit back - she's not five and you're old enough to defend yourself. – WernerCD Jun 28 '15 at 17:45
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    @WernerCD Doesn't really send the message that biting is not okay, though. – Acire Jun 28 '15 at 21:07
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    @Erica I beg to differ. Every "young-un" that has felt the urge, or expressed the desire, to bite me hasn't done so twice. They learn real quick that biting me = them getting bit - and every single one doesn't like that happening. The major difference here is the age - which is why I added the option to hit instead of bite. The sister obviously KNOWS that she can bite without consequence and needs to learn otherwise. Since the parents won't put a word in edgewise, the the eldest needs to stand up for herself. – WernerCD Jun 28 '15 at 21:46
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    @WernerCD I understand that it sends a message "don't bite me", but it quite clearly doesn't send the message "biting is not okay ". – Acire Jun 28 '15 at 21:48
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    @CreationEdge Just to be clear, I've only ever "bit back" with with "close" family of an age (16 would be too old IMO). I also don't leave any marks that won't be gone in ~15 minutes. My goal is normally to shock, scare and teach that biting me won't end well. I don't randomly bite children on the playground lol. I wouldn't bite a 16 year old either because they should know enough. I, being a bit older than 19, probably wouldn't punch either but they are close enough in age for self defense to be a reasonable option. – WernerCD Jun 29 '15 at 12:25
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Your sister has a real problem. This is the kind of behaviour that she should have left behind at preschool.

Is she violent towards others or just you? If she has more general violence issues then I suggest talking to a professional counsellor or therapist. Your parents ought to be doing this of course, but if they won't then you may have to step in. She is, or soon will be, a legal adult (depending on where you live), and is almost certainly old enough to be considered responsible for criminal assault.

If she is only violent towards you then I suggest talking to your parents again about how you will not tolerate it, and if they won't do anything about it next time then you will move out, call the police (biting is assault, no two ways about it), install a lock on your door and take your meals away from the family, or any other measures you can think of to force your parents to take this seriously. Unless your parents are actually scofflaws then you will probably find threatening to call in the police to haul your sister away in handcuffs will probably make them sit up and pay attention.

You are also probably entitled to use reasonable force in self defence (again, depends where you live). Tell your sister that if she approaches you when she is angry then you will assume you are about to be attacked and will defend yourself.

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I assume that this is just "a thing" between the two of you and she behaves reasonably non-violent against other people. If that's not the case, the answer would be quite different.

Most likely she does this to get attention and a strong reaction out of you. It may help to respond in a way that doesn't meet her goal and shows that this is kind of silly. There are a few things that you could try, but you need to stay calm and collected

  1. I'm sorry to see that you are still biting. I had hoped you have grown out of this by now. Isn't that a bit unusual for a 16-year old?
  2. I understand that you are angry, but I don't understand how biting me helps. Can you explain to me why you are doing this?
  3. Try humor: Have a snickers bar near by. If she bites: "Here have a snickers if you are that hungry, I still need my hand".
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  • Those lines would make him sound like he is looking down on his sister and has got a very inflated sense of ego. – Worse_Username Oct 12 '17 at 15:38
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    The lines you propose are good - but for a five-year-old. I'm afraid they won't work on someone who is almost grown up. – sleske Oct 17 '17 at 8:22
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Sixteen and meeting other expected markers for social development, yet feeling biting is normal behavior- is concerning. That she works hard to then change the narrative to make you at fault, is the part that is extremely concerning. Does she ever calm down (can she self-soothe) over this "wrong" or does she always choose to lie in wait to attack you?

That your parents aren't seeing these as a problem, is a very big problem. This normalizes the behavior to her.

You have every right to be safe in your body, in your home. Can you restrain her when she comes towards you? Push her back while repeating "No." When she changes the narrative, calmly say/repeat "No." Remove the victim; leave the room. She does not have your permission to attack and harm you. Neither will you harm her.

There's a twist or break in her problem-solving mechanisms that absolutely needs an intervention. It's not your job to be the parent, either. Hand this off, phone her school and talk with one of their staff counselors.

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I'd like to offer a different option.

There may be many factors at play here and you have described a very difficult situation without parental support. It is possible that in the future you and her should seek professional counselling together. Siblings ought to be looking out for each other, not at war.

Until such time as it has escalated beyond your own abilities, you may find it effective to combat her with a hug. As the elder sibling here in a situation with parents that aren't appropriately attentive, you may see the best results if you step a little more towards the parental role than the sibling role. Try your best to stay calm.

Sister bites you.
You: [Take your hand away. Pause. Deep breath.]
That hurt. A lot.
[Extend your arms to hug. Go 90%. Let her come 10% to you.]

You can fight and fight and fight, but that drives a deeper divide between you. By showing compassion in the face of anger, you're opening the door for a different conversation. She may not go along with it the first time or the second time, but personally, I think it's worth a shot.

Family is important. Family shouldn't fight maliciously.

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