I am a father of 10- and 12-year-old boys. Both used to play happily and regularly and fought on occasions. The younger boy used to complain about his older brother with some deep cries and proof of the older boy hitting him hardly.

I used to be in a seperate room from the brothers. I travel a lot and find less time with kids. I, at times, get angry with the older boy and shout at him to not hit the younger boy. But my wife used to tell that the younger boy starts to hit his older brother playfully and the 12-year-old, being irritated, hits back.

As a father how do I handle this situation without hurting any of my kids? How to solve the situation with the younger brother being hit by lovable, good older brother, who loses his patience with his younger brother's regular playful ness?

  • my younger brother acted like I hit him very hard, but truth was When I had not even touched him...)
    – Ritesh.mlk
    Apr 6, 2017 at 7:26

2 Answers 2


What has worked best with my sons is to tell the younger brother that if he doesn't want to get hurt by the older brother hitting back, he shouldn't start the hitting, playfully or otherwise. Then tell the older brother that it's okay to hit back, but he should be sure not to do anything that would actually injure the younger brother, and it's not okay to start the fight.

The younger brother will still start a fight to get the older brother's attention now and then - that just seems to be part of the dynamic between brothers - but at least he won't also be rewarded by parental attention for it.

If you want to get more sophisticated, you can try to teach the older brother to involve the younger brother in things in ways that the older brother actually enjoys, and to teach the younger brother that he's more likely to get the older brother's attention if he offers to do things the older brother wants. But sometimes the older brother will just want to be left alone, so that doesn't always work. It does help to give the older brother a place where he can retreat to where the younger brother can't get in.


Some amount of playful "fighting" is to be expected among kids, especially siblings. However, tattling, hurting each other, meanness or abuse should not be tolerated. Its a fine balance to figure out what exactly happened when you are not in the room. Some amount of judgement is needed.

If you trust them to be good kids, you can teach them some strategies to resolve their disputes (putting together an argument in a respectful way, giving each other space, etc). Also, both of them need alone time to do their homework, reading and other activities. Both of them have different needs and it needs to be recognized. Also, the 12-year old is almost an adolescent.

The only thing I would caution against is separating them too much because they fight often. There needs to be love between them which can only develop when they spend time together.

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