Hiya Rea n welcome to the party
I hear ya on the ol' ladder thingamabob there.
Instead of trying to tighten on the first stitch of the next needle, knit two stitches off the next needle and then give it a little tug to snug it up. That way the stitches will lock and it should alleviate the problem to a point. Other than that, the way you situate your needles for the next needle might be a problem as well. Have the next needle to be knitted sitting on top of the needle you just knit. That shortens the distance between the needles as well. Hope this helps ya