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How to Keep Your Sister From Being Annoying

by Maura Banar

Sometimes, it seems like a sibling’s only goal in life is to annoy you. If you live with a sister who goes out of her way to be annoying, it can be difficult to avoid the inevitable quarrels that result. If you have the benefit of living apart, you may be afforded more options for avoiding her, but family functions can force you into challenging situations. You'll need to take steps to preserve your sanity.

Take a step back and breathe when you feel compelled to lash out. Individuals who are difficult, including those who are annoying, generally do so out of a need to provoke others, explains psychologist Nando Pelusi in the article "Dealing With Difficult People" for "Psychology Today." Retaliation, therefore, is probably just what your sister is seeking in order to get attention or simply for the sake of argument. Instead of being reactive when your sister is annoying you by singing very loudly, stop briefly, breathe and consider your response or lack thereof. A calm rebuttal or none at all can place the onus of creating a negative environment back on your sister and will likely diffuse her efforts.

Establish and enforce your personal and emotional boundaries with your sister. One of the easiest ways to establish your boundaries is to just walk away from your sister when she is being annoying. Unfortunately, without an explanation as to why you are leaving, she may be left believing that she has succeeded in making you angry or upset. State clearly to your sister, for example, that “I don’t like it when you intentionally ask me the same question repeatedly when I’ve already answered you.” Add in your choice of boundary-establishing behavior such as “I’m going to go out for awhile because you are continuing to ask me the same question.” Being clear about what your sister is doing and what you will be doing to establish your boundaries doesn't leave room for questions on her part.

Elicit the help and support of other family members who share your opinion about your sister’s behavior. Your parents or other siblings can be your allies. It’s likely that they also have endured your sister’s annoying behavior and share your pain. If necessary, use your family to support you when confronting your sister. Try to avoid a united attack on her because this can be overwhelming. But if your sister does something annoying and a family member is nearby, ask that relative to join you and provide perspective on your sister’s behavior. Avoid blaming or inferring why your sister is being annoying but use another person’s perspective to emphasize that the behavior isn’t just bothering you alone.

Confront your sister, but choose a time when neither of your emotions are heightened. Being annoying or difficult in general isn’t always done with a conscious intention. If your sister is younger, shy or simply less extroverted, her annoying behavior may be her attempt to get some of the attention usually given to other people. Sit down with your sister. Ask her why she engages in the annoying behavior without attacking or judging. Ideally, your sister will be able to articulate to you why she is being annoying, and a solution then can be reached.

About the Author

Maura Banar has been a professional writer since 2001 and is a psychotherapist. Her work has appeared in "Imagination, Cognition and Personality" and "Dreaming: The Journal of the International Association for the Study of Dreams." Banar received her Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Buffalo State College and her Master of Arts in mental health counseling from Medaille College.

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