Defendant upset by Offender’s punishment

Someone enlighten me, please. I’ve got two kids. They argue like most (if not all) siblings. And they tattle on each other (much as I try to discourage this).

But why is it, when one tattles on the other for something like hitting or biting, and my husband and I levy the appropriate punishment, does the one who tattled in the first place get upset because the offender is getting in trouble/timed out/reprimanded?

I don’t get it. Isn’t that why a child tattles (besides to get sympathy for their wounded body part and emotions)? They want restitution and it’s Mommy or Daddy who supply that.

If someone hits in our house, he or she gets sent to their room for a time out (2 minutes for Little Brother and 5 minutes for Big Sister (we use the one-minute-per-year-of-life rule)). At the end of the time out, we go into the offender’s room and have a little chat, after which he or she finds their sibling and gives them a hug and says they are sorry for hitting them.

Simple enough.

Except that recently, every time my daughter tells on her brother and we apply the appropriate discipline, she starts crying and follows us as we walk him to his room for his time out all the while screaming that he’s just a little boy and he doesn’t know any better and we can’t put him in his room because he’ll cry and we shouldn’t time him out.


Is she suffering from tattlers remorse? Does her big sister protective instinct kick in when she sees her brother getting upset from his punishment?

It is so baffling to me that I don’t know how to respond to her. So far, we’ve just ignored her for the most part. She sits on the stairs and cries for the length of time that her brother is in his room. And when he gets sprung, they hug and kiss and act as if they haven’t seen each other in years. They immediately rekindle their sibling friendship and are the best of friends…until the next offence.


4 thoughts on “Defendant upset by Offender’s punishment

  1. memyselfandkids

    Maybe, she feels empathy and doesn’t really want anything to happen to him.
    My older son was being rude and crying the other day. I disciplined him. My younger son got involved (as he often does) and he ended up still being upset after the older one had calmed down.

    1. Nancy Post author

      I’m glad I’m not the only parent going through this. I have two younger sisters and I don’t remember getting involved in my parents’ disciplining as a child. If I wasn’t the one getting in trouble, I was far from the action. But my two, they always have an opinion (and aren’t afraid to share it) when the other one is getting in trouble.

  2. Pingback: The Power of the Sibling Bond « Life Takes Over

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