Mum criticised after encouraging her son to ‘defend himself’ against sibling during scraps

A mum has taken to Mumsnet to ask how parents deal with siblings who continuously fight but her suggestion that one of her children should learn to defend himself has come under huge scrutiny.

When you have more than one child, keeping the peace can be a very tricky task.

Whether it’s a vocal slinging match or a physical scrap, sometimes it’s hard to know when and how to step in.

One mum explained her situation on Mumsnet and asked others how they would deal with it. She wrote: ‘My five-year-old and my 2.5-year-old are ALWAYS fighting. The problem is, my 2.5-year-old is big for his age and very physical.

‘He often just goes up to his brother and pulls and pulls his hair or jumps on top of him. He wants to play fight. He also wants his brother’s toys and will just go and take them and push five-year-old out the way to get what he wants.’

She continued to explain that her five-year-old son has a quiet personality and is relatively calm. When she is in the room with both children she tells her toddler to stop the aggressive behaviour but as soon as she turns her back the chaos erupts again.

The mum has told her five-year-old to defend himself when she’s not in the room, but she is understandably worried this might not be the right approach.

siblings fighting

What do you do when your children’s play fighting goes too far? 

She said: ‘But my worry is, by doing that, I’m encouraging them to fight! I guess my fear is, I don’t want five-year-old to get picked on in life and I want him to learn to defend himself. I have no idea what to do. I hate violence and I don’t want to raise scrappy boys.’

Although she appreciates that most parents must experience this, she wants to know if anyone has any good tactics.

The comments on the post have a common theme of concern with many parents stating that it is outrageous to advise your child to defend themselves again a sibling.

One person wrote: ‘Keep them apart when you’re not in the room hmm. Why would you “encourage” your 5 year old to get physical with your 2 year old??’

Another said: ‘If you can’t control your toddler keep him away from his brother. Stop allowing him to abuse his sibling and do not encourage his sibling to abuse him back. What are you doing?’

Most peoples advice was to separate the boys and to focus on discipling the toddler rather than encourage the five-year-old to react.

What would you do in this situation? Do your kids continuously scrap? Let us know any advice you’ve been given that helped over on our Facebook page! We’d love to hear your thoughts…