Annie Fox for Teens... Hey, Terra!

Annie (AKA Hey Terra!) has been around long enough to have experienced a lot of what Life can dish out. But, it hasn’t been so long that she's forgotten what it's like to be your age. Check out some of the thousands of email questions teens from around the world have sent to Terra. You may learn something useful from her answers:

“If someone doesn't help me with my sister I'm going to install electric fences.”

Hey Terra,

My little sister is so irritating! She comes into my room and bugs me and takes/destroys my stuff and gets me mad so. I tell her to get out and then she runs crying from my room saying I yelled at her when she just wanted to be with me! Whenever I babysit her, she ignores me until I give her a timeout and then she calls my mom and tattles, saying I'm punishing her for nothing and cries. Of course my mom always believes her. My sister is SO ANNOYING! Please help me cuz if someone doesn't do something I'm afraid I'll install electric fences or get pit bulls.

On the Edge

Dear On the Edge,

Electric fences... LOL! I appreciate your sense of humor. That's a great de-stressor, you know. Not to say that you don't have the right to expect your little sister to respect your space and your stuff. You absolutely do! And I want to help you communicate that to her.

First, how old is your sister? Are we talking about a 4 year old or a 10 year old? The reason I'm asking is because her ability to understand "this is mine and I don't want you to touch it without my permission" depends on her maturity level.

I'm going to assume that if she's old enough to call your mom (on the phone) and tattle, then she's old enough to understand property rights and respect for other people.

Since nothing you've done so far has worked, I'm going to suggest that you have a serious (but very calm and mature) conversation with your mom. You need HER help in communicating effectively to your little sister. Choose a time when you and your mom can be alone with nothing else going on that would compete with your mom's attention. Tell her that you want to improve the relationship you have with your sister (that's the goal). And that you need your mom's help. Explain to her which parts of your sister's behavior "bug you" and explain to your mom that if she is going to put you in charge of your sister, then you need your mom's support in setting up boundaries (agreements) and giving you the authority to mete out consequences. Up until now, it sounds like your sister is getting away with a bunch of unacceptable behavior. She isn't showing you any respect. With your mom's support and your mom joining forces with you to lay down the new rules, your sister ought to get the message that if she wants to be treated with respect, then she needs to learn to treat you with respect.

So, step one... Set up an appointment to talk with your mom.

In friendship,


Need some advice? Write to Terra. She'll give you a straight answer you can trust without any lectures.

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