Nobody gets along all the time and we certainly can’t stop our kids from squabbling to live in perfect harmony. I mean, it would be nice, but it isn’t realistic. Sibling squabbles are allowed within reason in our home, but there are ways to stop siblings from fighting that are healthy and reasonable.
Stop siblings from fighting before it starts
Kids squabble. Sometimes we need to give them room to work out their differences. As parents, it is our goal to raise respectable and confident adults, not doormats or bullies. It is all too easy to jump in and diffuse a situation before it starts, but is that always the best method?
You know your kids better than anyone. Assess the situation and let kids work it out unless it gets out of hand. Arguing builds life skills and helps children develop social skills and conflict resolution. I’ll touch on that in a bit. However, it helps if there are ground rules.
To stop siblings from fighting, consider the following strategies:
- Set house rules for arguing in your home. Some of these could include, no name-calling, no physical interaction (hitting, biting, kicking, etc.), and being respectful. Allow the children to help set the rules and remind them of the rules when it is necessary.
- Set up routines so that everyone knows who is responsible or whose turn it is to do chores, take turns playing a video game, or choosing the movie on movie night. Many arguments can be avoided if there are clear guidelines.
- Don’t take sides. Be non-partisan when it comes to sibling squabbles. Taking sides can cause jealousy which can escalate the situation.
- Also, try not to compare your children. This too leads to jealousy.
- Focus on each child’s needs. What do they need? Oftentimes, one sibling feels less worthy, talented, etc., and out of this inadequacy feels triggered and instigates trouble against another sibling. By focusing on each child’s needs, you make them feel worthy and connected. Connection is important when it comes to mental health.
- Model healthy arguments. When arguing with your spouse or loved ones, check that you argue respectably. Do you raise your voice or do you argue calmly? Do you respect your differences and apologize sincerely? Children pick up more on our actions than our words, unfortunately. How you argue matters.
- Catch your kids being good. Comment on how well they are getting along. Also, compliment them on positive conflict resolution.
- Teach conflict resolution when they are not arguing. Think up scenarios and ask your kids for possible resolutions. Kids are smart and are way more intuitive than we give them credit for.
But what happens if it escalates?
It happens. I have eight kids and even my best efforts can’t stop every squabble from escalating. I am human and my kids happen to be human, too.
First off, don’t take it personally. You are not a bad parent. You haven’t done anything wrong. We are emotional, living beings with feelings and are passionate about some things.
Sometimes we are irrational. Our thoughts trigger our emotions and our behaviours. Children are still growing and their brains are making neuro connections and are learning social skills and as a result, they act irrationally.
But what should you do when sibling squabbles get out of hand? What is the best way to stop siblings from fighting?
I have a list of go-to solutions in my arsenal that I have to pull out from time to time. Some solutions to stop siblings from fighting will really depend on the age and the personalities of your children.
Personality types and love languages can be useful in determining your action plan. I highly recommend learning about reading personality types and love languages as tools for all homeschool parents.
Possible ways to stop siblings from fighting include:
- Send them outside. Give them a job to do in different areas of the yard. It doesn’t really matter if they do the job, it is giving them the opportunity to cool off. Outdoors is a good place to cool off and get distracted.
- Make them hold hands. Boys usually don’t like this one. Often times they end up goofing off and sometimes it makes the situation worse.
- Make them clean something. Kids will catch on quickly that cleaning is not the preferred option or you will have a sparkling clean house. Whichever happens, it’s a win-win for the parents.
- Coach each child to express their feelings without attacking the other person. You will need to mediate and have to stay neutral. You are Switzerland. Remember the ground rules for arguing and see if things were based on a misunderstanding.
- Make them solve a problem together. Give them something that they have to work on together.
- Use a scenario dialogue. You can use task cards or come up with your own. It is often easier to analyze someone else’s problems and come up with rational solutions. Kids are great at this.
These are just a few of the many ways that we can stop siblings from fighting. If your children are fighting constantly, it might be worth getting to the root of the problem. Behaviors are often caused by emotions which are caused by inner thoughts and feelings.
Spending one-on-one time with each child is a good way to gain insight into what your child is thinking about and where their behaviors are coming from.
Conflict isn’t a bad thing. Growing up, you may have been taught that conflict should be avoided at all costs. Especially women have been taught that their voice or opinion isn’t important and that they should be submissive.
Actually, conflict can be a great teacher. Sibling squabbles are important in the development of our child’s mental health. We want our children to become who they were called to be and to be able to stand up for what they believe in.
As a Growth Mindset Coach, I like to point out the positive sides of things in order to help others to move forward and become more resilient and gain mental strength.
So the next time that your children are arguing, assist them if you can in resolving their conflict so that they can be:
- Better listeners. Conflict allows us to see things from another perspective and listen to a point of view that is not ours.
- Flexible. Conflict resolution especially requires flexibility. Children can learn to give and take. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.
- Open to new ideas. Conflict sometimes opens our eyes to new opportunities. We can be very narrowminded in the heat of the moment, but if we open ourselves to new ideas we can grow and possibly have even better outcomes. It’s like the saying, “Two heads are better than one.”
- Able to set limits. Conflict allows the opportunity to set personal boundaries and to stick up for oneself. This is an important social skill to learn, especially for children who are easily bullied and are naturally submissive by nature. We are not raising doormats. Kids need to learn how to set limits and personal boundaries.
- Better communicators. Children who learn conflict resolution in a positive way will become better communicators. They will learn how to negotiate and work as team players.
- Problem solvers. Conflict forces us to solve problems. Children can learn to find peaceful resolutions to their problems.
- Aware of their needs and learn to verbalize them. Conflict allows our children to become aware of their needs and to verbalize them. This will likely have to be facilitated at first.
- Emotionally in control. Conflict resolution is a prime opportunity to help children practice emotional control and how to resolve situations with their heads and not their emotions.
- Authentic. Conflict allows a person to be authentic and to speak their truth. It helps a person realize their beliefs and what is dear to their heart.
- Be good friends with their siblings. If conflict is handled in a healthy way, siblings will be bonded in a special way. They will learn to respect their sibling and value their opinions.
Stop siblings from fighting when it is necessary, but remember that not all conflict is bad. It is a great learning tool and an opportunity to teach your children valuable life skills.
Do you have a strategy that you use to diffuse sibling squabbles to stop your kids from fighting? I would love to hear it. Leave a comment below.