"Parents cannot effectively communicate their love to a child unless they are also a source of effective authority. "

The Enemy of my Enemy is my Sibling

Question

We have five children, and multiple questions, but I'll just focus on one here. My oldest son and daughter (ages 10 and 7) fight regularly. My son is a teaser, and my daughter is a screecher. So it's a lovely combination. At times my son has gotten physical with her, hitting her. Then there are the times he touches her (like lightly hitting the back of her head) and she isn't really hurt, but her reaction is just as noisy. Then today, (and this wasn't the first time) she turned around and punched one of her sisters, age 4, rather hard in the stomach. That poor girl just takes it, though, and if I had not seen it with my own eyes, I might not have heard about it. She was sent to her room for the rest of the day, and it was an effective consequence.

My question is about how to let them try and resolve their own conflicts. When my older daughter tells me that her older brother hit her, I have to take it with a grain of salt, and wade through the murky waters of trying to figure out what really happened. Then with the 4 year old girl, I want to listen to her, but not turn her into a tattler, and get addicted to being the victim, although in truth, I think she tend to actually be. How can I listen? When do I need to listen? When "punching" is really more like actually "lightly hitting" how do I draw the line? (We have said that our son may not touch his sister at all, but that is an unrealistic statement.)

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