Parents should be rest assured that conflicts and disagreements are common and can happen all the time between siblings.
When children argue or disagree with one another, it’s actually a healthy sign that they are learning to express themselves and are practicing social skills they will need as adults.
Although it’s common for brothers and sisters to fight with each other, it certainly isn’t pleasant to hear or see for anyone in the house. As parents, it can get extremely frustrating and upsetting. But, here are some steps you can take to promote peace in your household and help your kids get along.
Why do Kids Fight?
There can be many reasons why your kids aren’t getting along. The most common ones are:
- Sibling rivalry, jealousy or competition whether for parental attention or resources.
- They may fight over their property like their toys or their room.
- Children’s moods, individual temperaments and personalities may affect how they get along with each other.
- Children’s identities, needs and anxieties change as they grow which may create conflict.
- Sometimes, being sick or having special needs may require more parental time and will cause problems.
How Can You Help?
Now, that we know that fights between siblings happen for many reasons and are quite common, let’s talk about what parents can do when the fighting starts.
- Don’t get involved. As much as you’ll want to jump in and help, it’s best for you to stay out of your kids’ conflicts unless there is danger of physical harm. Remember, they are also learning how to handle disagreements at this time. If you intervene, kids will start expecting you to solve the problems every time they squabble.
- Be a role model. You are your children’s role model. The way you resolve problems and disagreements with others will set the best example for them in dealing with their own conflicts. If you respond respectfully and calmly in an argument, your kids will also adopt these tactics.
- Separate kids until they are calm. Sometimes, kids need to physically move apart from another to settle down and to better handle their emotions. This is also necessary if you see the conflict escalating to physical fighting.
- Don’t blame. Try not to focus on who to blame or who was responsible for the fighting. If they were involved, then they are equally responsible. If you blame one child, he or she will hold more resentment towards their sibling and you, in turn making the conflict worse. You should remain neutral and listen to both sides without holding any one person responsible.
- Help kids get along. Have fun together as a family where you are spending time with each other and enjoying each other’s company. This will help strengthen the bond the siblings have and will give more opportunities for them to relate.
- Make schedules. If fights are about who will use the tablet or get to watch their favorite T.V. channel, then set a schedule for when each child can individually have their own turn.
- Have family meetings. If fights are frequent or escalate quickly in your house, then have weekly family meetings to set the ground rules for fighting. You can discuss ways as a family of what has worked before and what might work better next time.
- Try one-on-one time. Since most fights happen over parental attention, it is a good idea to give each child their own one-on-one time with you. It could simply be going grocery shopping or out to eat but it allows each child to feel special and get attention from their parents which is usually shared when all the family members are around.
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About the Founder
Internationally Recognised Emotional Literacy & Mindfulness Expert Tenille Bentley is the founder of The Emotional Literacy and Mindfulness Academy and the author of the children’s emotional literacy books with Jazzy and Pinky and The Energy Ball. Giving children a wonderful introduction to understanding their emotions and what do with them.
Tenille has been featured on Channel 9 News and other major outlets. Her work has been recognised in the community by The Governor of Western Australia, The Prime Minister of Australia and Australian Financial Review.
As a child she experienced severe anxiety and emotional traumas as well as bullying which left her feeling isolated, and unable to understand why she was feeling the way she did. As an adult this impacted her ability to make healthy decisions because she didn’t have the tools to understand her emotions.
Which is why she is passionate about equipping parents with the tools to support their children to make better decisions in life and healthy ones to help support and create a balanced home life.