DEAR AMY: I am a 13-year-old boy with sibling troubles. My 12-year-old brother has anger management problems and gets worked up over simple requests. When he gets angry, he'll spit venom at me until one of my parents gets involved. And then the problem is considered my fault. Whenever he's had a few good days and I start to wonder if the cloud has passed, something else happens and we're back where we started. We've both seen different therapists within the past year. In therapy I've discussed this issue, and we've had no good ideas. We are both very attached to our parents and don't tend to argue with them much. They're nice, so he's definitely not getting this from them, and his friends are nice and polite. I don't know what to do, so I'd like some advice on how to solve this.

-- Bigger Brother

DEAR BROTHER: You've had access to your fair share of therapy, and so I won't suggest "talking to a responsible adult." I'm not a therapist, but I'll try to apply some common sense to your problem.

The first rule of self-defense when you're up against an erratic adolescent sibling is: Avoidance. You should look for new ways to not engage with the little guy; if trouble starts and you feel it's out of control, leave the scene.

The first rule of "how to control other people" is: You can't. You can only try to control your own behavior. Are you being as mature as you can be? Make sure you don't deliberately bait him. Remember that he is younger than you and that he has the ability to spew venom at you and also cry to mom and dad when he feels like it.

See if you can stand up to this angry bully, not by being as aggressive as he is, but by staying peaceful and meeting aggression with a sort of neutral attitude. Not only is this good training for you, but you will be modeling behavior your brother needs to emulate. Your parents need to deal with your brother, and I hope they will.

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