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How Do I Handle It When My Sister Is Mean?

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From Singapore: It’s my first time posting on here (I just created an account) and normally I’d give my whole history just to give a better idea of who I am but for now just for context I’m 15, I have Asian parents, I’m in the middle of exam week, running on 4 hours of sleep and a lot of caffeine, (I just came back from sitting for a paper).

Alright so I just finished my math tutoring session and went down to spend some time with my mom and my sister. Completely unprovoked, my (younger) sister proceeded to tell me that her friend described me as “skinny, extremely ugly, with Harry Potter glasses”;. I’ve never met her friends before but it still hurt because Im recovering from anorexia nervosa (does my family know about this? no I’m Asian) but I knew that if I showed the slightest sign of upset I’d get yelled at so I just ignored her. and then after that I was in the middle of telling my mom about something that happened in school and she cut me off to ask if I could keep still when I’m talking (she wore that really weird smile some people have; like when you know you’re being mean to someone and you do it deliberately but your conscience can’t handle it so you smile to make yourself feel better) so I kinda just clammed up said one last sentence before retreating back to my room because I didn’t want to pick a fight.

And then on my way up I hear the both of them laughing at me “what’s wrong with her? ” hahahahaha I don’t know either. and I know it’s such a stupid and petty thing to get upset about but I had a really bad anxiety attack and I just feel so bad because it’s such a dumb thing but it hurts and it shouldn’t hurt. Please help me

How Do I Handle It When My Sister Is Mean?

Answered by on -


Siblings can be very mean to each other while growing up. It’s a normal, though difficult, part of life. It usually comes from jealousy or some competition for love and attention. Sometimes it is a way to relieve stress. Although it is painful at times, it can also be a valuable learning experience. Learning how to walk away from provocations and how to manage conflict are useful skills.

How the fighting is handled matters. Usually parents let siblings work it out on their own, as long as everyone is safe. You did the right thing to walk away. There is no pay off for your sister if you don’t let her insults bother you. You figured that out by yourself.

But if the kids are hurt by their fighting, then it is up to parents to help their kids learn those important skills for getting along with other people. It was not helpful for your mother to support your sister in being mean. She probably didn’t realize that was what she was doing. She may have just been trying to defuse the negative feelings. I hope you will talk to her about how it affected you so maybe she will be more sensitive to your feelings in the future.

As for the anxiety attack: It hurt because your sister was hurtful. Your defenses were also compromised by lack of sleep and too much caffeine. Of course, you were upset. Any sensitive person would be.

But if those “attacks” happen frequently, you may need some additional help to learn how to handle conflict and bullying. The easiest thing to do is to read about conflict resolutions skills. If that isn’t helpful enough, a few sessions with a counselor might give you the practice you need to be less reactive.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

How Do I Handle It When My Sister Is Mean?

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). How Do I Handle It When My Sister Is Mean?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 5, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 9 Oct 2018 (Originally: 11 Oct 2018)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 9 Oct 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.