Ceasefire Please! How to deal with Kids When They Fight
If you have more than one child, you’d know that fights between them are unavoidable. Here’s how to manage them.
It is quite common for young siblings to fight over the most trivial things: toys, screen time, or even seating arrangements. While sibling fights are normal and even healthy, it can also drive you nuts! There’s no quick, one-size-fits-all solution, but these tips can help you manage the situation.
Don’t step in all the time
Sibling fights have some benefits. Kids learn about conflict resolution, help them find their own voice and express their thoughts, and discover that they can resolve a problem independently. Stepping in too early deprives them of these life lessons and leaves the conflict unresolved. Give them a chance to work through their differences.
Don’t reward fights with attention
Sometimes, a child will pick a fight with a brother or sister to get attention. Rushing in and making a fuss actually rewards this behaviour. If you ignore the whining or squabbling, both of them will realize that they’re not going to get anything out of arguing with each other.
Don’t get swept into taking a side
Once kids say “He started it!” and start pointing fingers, it’s challenging to get to the bottom of things. Before you know it, you find yourself taking the side of one child at the expense of the other. Stay calm and impartial. Helping them resolve their differences is more important than finding out who started what or who is to blame.
Jealousy, need for attention, and insecurities are common reasons for sibling fights. Children compete for their parent’s attention, and try to get it by name calling, taunting, bickering, or hitting. Other triggers are boredom, tiredness, or even hunger.
Knowing the trigger can help you figure out how to deal with the situation. If they’re jealous, then set one-on-one bonding time with each child so they feel loved and secure. If it’s just boredom or hunger, then all you need to do is to distract both kids with a snack.
No comparison, please
Comparing siblings is a sure recipe for rivalry. Embrace your child’s uniqueness, and encourage them to respect others’ ideas and preferences. This will help them understand and iron out their differences, not just with siblings but with peers as well.
Individual personalities matter
A 4-year -old extrovert might resent her 6-year-old introvert sibling for preferring to read a book instead of playing with her. This can even get worse if you force the older sibling to play with the younger one. Age gaps or even gender can also trigger conflict. Knowing your child’s quirks can help you choose the best approach to diffuse conflict or rivalry between siblings.
Foster cooperation and teamwork at home
Teach kids that “we may not always agree, but we’ll always be a team.” Get them to work together on chores or family projects, or spend time together as a family. They’ll get to know (and respect) each other’s personalities, feel more secure about a parent’s love and their place at home, and reduce jealousy, insecurity and the need for attention. Getting them to work together is also a good way to let them develop their own individuality and not compete with each other.
Be a good role model
If they see you yelling or throwing a fit when you are mad, then they are likely to do the same during sibling fights. Be conscious about how you communicate with other people when you’re upset, or how you deal with conflicts – especially in front of them! If you want your kids to be able to talk calmly instead of fighting, then practice what you preach.
How do you deal with your children’s conflicts and personality differences? Share your experiences and tips in the comments section.