I've been noticing this recently, and my mother-in-law just nicely mentioned it to my wife. Our oldest child, who is 8, likes to instigate fighting and yelling from her younger sisters (who are 6 and 4 years old). She will do something until it makes them mad and then she watches the younger two fight.

How do I get her to stop?

When disciplining the kids, I usually just ask them to show me the correct behavior; then if they don't comply I send them to time out in a corner to their room. If I'm feeling emotionally worn out I'll just send them to their room right away before they can argue with me.

  • Catch her being annoying to the others. Or is she left in "charge" while all the adults are elsewhere?
    – Solar Mike
    Dec 19, 2022 at 16:41
  • We've caught her tormenting her sisters when she thinks we are not in the room. Dec 19, 2022 at 16:48
  • Thanks for giving us the ages of your children. Again, can you give some concrete examples of how she has done this? (How to stop it does depend to some degree on how it occurs in the first place.) I do think this is a good question and an important issue, because sibling conflict for many becomes a lifelong relationship issue, one that is not discussed often enough (in my opinion.) Dec 21, 2022 at 19:29

1 Answer 1


One way to handle this is to put all of your children in time out if any of them start fighting. This might seem unfair, if two are fighting and one isn't, but as your post shows, just because you can see two of your three kids are involved doesn't mean that the third kid is innocent.

The message is that if there is any fighting all children go to time out.

This puts all 3 of your kids in the same boat, and your oldest, if she decides to ramp up her younger siblings, will suffer time out just like they will, so in theory it removes your oldest child's motivation to ramp up her siblings.

I used this with my 2 kids so that I didn't have to figure out who started it, if they got in a fight they both went to time out. Fighting became a very rare event, so in my experience this works.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .