Seven easy steps to put an end to sibling rivalry

Sibling squabbling is typical in families, but if parents don't have the necessary tools, it can be tough to manage.

Why can’t my kids just get along? If your kids are playing well one minute, and fighting the next, take comfort in knowing that you’re not alone.

Sibling rivalry is a given if you have more than one child. However, with the correct tools, you may stop the disputes between your kids for good. If you want to keep your kids from fighting, here are seven things you can do right now to lessen competition between them:

Get rid of the labels

Labels (deliberate or inadvertent) can significantly affect the competition between siblings. The way we talk about our “athletic child,” “spoilt child”, “clever child,” or even “shy child” inevitably draws comparisons between them. One child assumes that the other isn’t “athletic” or “clever”, which fuels the competition between children. The objective is to encourage qualities like cooperation, tenacity, and generosity. In this way, siblings can cheer each other on rather than fight for their parents’ approval.

Spend time with each child

Because they want their parents to notice them, children will do anything to get attention – even if it means fighting with each other. Plan to give each child at least 10-15 minutes of focused attention each day. Positive Parenting Solutions calls this Mind, Body and Soul Time because it has such a profound effect on your child’s mental, physical, and spiritual health.

Top tip: You must be fully present for your child. Put down your phone, don’t respond to that email, and turn off the TV you’re watching if you want quality time with your child to be purposeful.

It’s okay not to share

As adults, there are things that we don’t want to share with others, and that’s okay. The same applies to children. If your child has a particular item or toy that they don’t want others to play with, including their siblings, it’s essential to respect their decision.

Teach your children how to express their feelings

Children should be taught that it is okay to have strong feelings but that there are also suitable methods to communicate those sentiments. When they’re frustrated, teach them how to express their feelings (e.g., “I’m angry when Sam won’t let me play with the Lego” or “I’m hurt that Alison won’t give me a sweet). It’s important to teach kids how to diffuse a disagreement until they’re ready to talk about their feelings, which can take time. Teach them techniques such as walking away, counting to 10, and taking deep breaths until they’re ready to talk about their thoughts. You’ll notice a dramatic decrease in sibling disagreements in your home if you provide your children with the tools and tactics to handle conflicts independently.

Pick your battles wisely

Amid a sibling quarrel, what is the most helpful thing you, as a parent, can do? Sometimes, the answer is to ignore it. Move to another room and find something else to do. Don’t pay any heed to the altercation. This way, you don’t reinforce bad conduct by paying attention to it, and most importantly, you give your children an opportunity to figure it out on their own. If the argument becomes physical or you need to intervene, you can utilise the following two steps.

Calm the dispute

You may have to intervene if your children cannot agree or if the conflict escalates. Don’t take sides in any way, shape, or form. Be careful not to pass judgment on either child because of what you heard or observed. You can instead promote each child’s account of what happened, encouraging them to utilise “I feel” words as they tell their tale. Finally, invite them to come up with solutions jointly without blaming or taking sides.

Put them all “in one boat”

Putting your kids “all in the same boat” if they can’t agree after hearing all perspectives and trying to find a solution is the best option. In other words, everyone engaging in the debate has the same experience due to the argument. “Either you can play the game together without fighting, or I’ll put it away for the rest of the day,” is an example. Then be sure to carry out your plan if your children keep fighting.

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