Four Secrets to Squashing Sibling Squabbles
Sibling squabbles, sisterly rivalry, brotherly bickering – whatever you call it, conflicts between siblings can be frustrating and disheartening. While a certain amount of arguing is expected and actually healthy for child development, if it becomes constant, it can really disrupt your family dynamic.
If you are dealing with excessive fighting amongst your children, take a deep breath! We’re sharing our top four secrets to squashing sibling squabbles to help you manage or even prevent fighting.
Effectively Discuss the Argument with Each Child
No matter how stressed you can get during a sibling conflict, be sure to always keep your cool. Try separating your children and discuss the following with them individually:
- How they are feeling;
- How the other sibling is feeling;
- Why they ended up in an argument; and
- What they can do differently next time
For example, if one child is playing with a toy, and the other child tries to grab it and hits the other child for not letting go, try the following:
Instead of saying, “You should never grab a toy from your sister. It was very wrong of you to hit her,” try saying, “You were quite upset that your sister was playing with a toy you wanted, weren’t you? This made her sad. Next time, ask her to share the toy with you.”
Catch Siblings Being Good
Let’s say one child is eating a snack, and she shares the snack with her sister without being prompted. This is when you can take advantage of the heartening moment and praise them. This praise will demonstrate to your children which actions lead to positive attention, making them more eager to show that type of behaviour in the future.
You can even reward children for getting along for long periods of time. If your children have not fought all morning, you can offer to take them all to the park in the afternoon or bake cookies that evening. Introducing this reward system will further encourage the siblings to not argue as much in hopes of doing something exciting later on.
Set up Routines Around the House
If your children’s arguments often revolve around situations like who showers first in the morning getting ready for school or who gets to choose the movie to watch later in the evening, try setting strict house routines. Your children will then know ahead of time who gets to do what activities and when.
Consider setting house rules including:
- Who gets to shower first on weekdays
- Who gets to pick the movies on which days
- What chores are to be completed by each sibling (and rotate them)
- Who gets to play on the PlayStation at which times
Promote Family Bonding
We know it can sometimes be easier to just keep your children separated when constant bickering has become the norm. However, while it may result in a quieter house, it won’t fix the problem. Instead, continue taking your whole family on trips or engaging in family activities at home.
Whether they like it not, when your children are participating in family activities, they are learning more about their individual personalities and bonding throughout the day. Also, when you are around as parents, you may be able to spot the signs of an almost-argument and diffuse the situation before the fighting even begins – hopefully helping to break the argument cycle.
Siblings have a beautiful yet sometimes explosive relationship, but our goal as parents is to minimise fighting to create stronger bonds between children and foster life-long friendship. By following these methods, you can restore peace in your home and finally start seeing your siblings get along – for at least the majority of the time.