Handling Sibling Rivalry

Handling Sibling Rivalry

Are your children constantly fighting, competing against one another and hurting each other’s feelings?  Learning how to deal with these situations when conflicts arise, will help everyone get along better and your children will learn to appreciate each other in a more loving and thoughtful way.  Follow these simple steps to restore peace and harmony in your home.

Identify the Reason and Triggers

Figure-out what is the main cause of the rivalry.  A number of factors could be causing the constant bickering such as different personalities and temperaments, varying maturity levels, you have blended two families together, or they simply may not be getting enough time to themselves and be in need of some privacy .

When a fight begins to erupt, silently witness what triggered the argument and what behaviors intensified the situation such as name-calling, hitting, and insulting.  By observing one of their episodes as it starts, you will be able to pick-up on a particular behavior before it starts a fight.

Handle it Immediately

The first step to take when an argument escalates between the children is to stay neutral.  Never take sides and also encourage them to work the problem out on their own and come to a resolution in a more productive way.  If they still cannot agree on an amicable solution, then sit each child down and have them tell each other their side of the story without any interruption from you or the other child.

Set a timer and have one child start by stating what is upsetting him and it how it makes him feel, then reiterate what he has said to show that you were listening and that you do understand why he is upset.  Reset the timer and let the other child speak without interrupting her, as well.  Practicing this technique ensures that each child is heard and shows that you are listening and not judging.  Kids feel more appreciated when given a voice and are allowed to be heard unconditionally.

Set House Rules

To create a more peaceful environment in your home and cut down on arguments, implement some house rules that cannot be broken.  Explain that these rules are non-negotiable and breaking them will not be tolerated, resulting in punishment — such as a privilege loss or time-out.  The following are a few suggestions of house rules that you can enforce:

  1. No negative behaviors.  Name-calling, biting, hitting, and hurtful behaviors are not allowed and consequences will result for these actions.
  2. No screaming or yelling.  A calm voice must be used at all times and yelling and screaming will not be tolerated.
  3. Do not take what is not yours.  You must ask before taking or borrowing anything that does not belong to you.
  4. No tattling on each other.  Explain that tattling is not allowed, unless the other child is in danger of being hurt or is in trouble.

These rules are by no means a definitive list and are just suggested as a guide to get you started.  Make your own list based on your family dynamics and what situations trigger the most fights among your children.  Be sure to set punishments that are not too difficult to follow through with and that are tailored for each child’s age and maturity level.
Remember…sibling rivalry is a normal part of growing-up and you cannot make your children like each other, but you can teach them the skills needed to appreciate each other more and learn to get along better.

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