There are days where I feel more like I am playing the part of a referee than a parent. With three kids, two of which are twins and the other only a year behind them there are lots of probable causes to start fights. All like the same toys and even if they don’t like the same toys, they just don’t want each other to have that toy. My twin boys love to fight with each other, they also love to gang up on their little sister a bit more. God help my daughter, who so desperately wants to be included in their play regardless that she could care less about cars or Thomas the train. Though, should they touch her precious teacup set an epic fight will ensue! In her mind, she can play with their toys but they cannot play with hers.
It is a battle every day and one that I’m sure will never stop completely. Kids will fight and there will always be disagreements but it is important that they learn how to manage their feelings and learn how to figure out solutions between one another. Here are some tips on how to manage sibling fighting:
1. Try To Prevent Boredom
When kids are bored, fights often break out as a result of this. A great way to manage this is to come up with an activity jar. Fill the jar with activities written on pieces of paper. You can even have a few chores written on them as well such as clean up their room or put their toys away. The only rule is that they have to do the activity they have chosen.
2. Keep Cranky And Hungry Kids Away From Each Other
When they are tired or hungry you will notice that fights will often break out because of this. Keep snacks with you for moments like this. If they are tired, try to keep them separated as much as possible. Give them separate activities to do until you can get them to take a nap.
3. Be A Good Role Model
Kids tend to model the behavior that they see constantly so it is a good idea to take a look at how you and your spouse argue. Always be aware that your children are watching and you are their best model to mimic behavior. Instill good conflict resolution within the household by taking a moment to have a cool down period, stay calm, acknowledge the other person’s view and then express your own needs when talking things out. Remember to always model this behavior. This includes your behavior outside the home as well. Someone cut you off in traffic? Remember to not yell or curse – your kids are watching you!
4. Remember To Reward Kindness Too
Sometimes we tend to give them attention only when they are arguing with one another that we forget to praise them when they are kind to one another. When they do something kind, be sure to call it out and give them applause for this good behavior. When we remember to reward good behavior you will be amazed at how more often you see it.
5. Don’t Ever Compare Your Kids To One Another
This is a sure fire way to promote sibling rivalry between one another. All kids are going to be different and respond to situations different. Be sure to always speak the positives of their differences and individuality.
6. Instill One On One Time With Each Child
Whether it happens once a week or once a month, it is good to set aside days where each parent can spend one on one time with each child. Having this time alone with their parent gives them the opportunity to have your undivided attention. You will be surprised how much of the sibling fights start to diminish when you institute this. Make your days out even more fun by getting them to help plan them. You children will enjoy bragging about how much fun they had when they are back with each other.
7. Teach Them The Best Ways To Manage Their Emotions
When they are calm, go and write a list of activities they can do when they are made. This can be as simple as taking a deep breath and counting to ten or writing it down in a journal. Always let them know that physically hitting, biting or scratching someone is never acceptable. Post the list where they can see it and be able to refer to it when they are angry. Not only are you teaching them how to monitor their behavior now but you are also giving them useful tools that they will be able to use throughout their life.
8. Teach Your Children Empathy
When children have a good sense of empathy for other people they will be able to respond more kindly in conflict situations especially with their siblings. When children have a good sense of how another person is feeling and also have good self-awareness they think about their actions more and how that person may feel. Here are some ways on how to teach your children empathy: http://www.parentingscience.com/teaching-empathy-tips.html
9. Empathize With Them But Set Limits On Their Actions
Most times, children just want to know that they are being heard and that they are entitled to their feelings. Talk about what they are feeling and give it a label. They may say that they hate their sibling but let them know that this is just a reaction to them feeling angry. Talk to them about why they are feeling the way they are and how their sibling is possibly feeling. Don’t feel like you need to resolve problems because sometimes just having them talk it through helps just as much.