If you have more than one child, you know bickering between kids. Some days it feels like you should be wearing a shirt with zebra stripes and cradling a whistle. But arguing and bickering is a necessary part of maturing, but it’s extremely exhausting—for all parties involved.
So how do we help our kids learn to fight less and solve problems more? Our resident Dad Referees shared their advice (and favorite brand of whistle):
● Individual time. The impact of one-on-one time with your child is significant. Sometimes, the source of fighting between siblings is a need for attention. We know it can be hard with busy schedules, but even just finding a set amount of time each day or week to spend together can be extremely helpful in lessening those disputes. It doesn’t have to be anything big – reading, walking the dog, watching a show.
● Model behavior. What is your style of conflict resolution? How do you and your partner resolve issues? Are those resolutions done in front of your children so they can see that even though their parents might disagree, they talk through the problem, offer up solutions, and come to a mutual understanding/agreement? Our kids are always watching, far more than they’re listening. Let’s make sure we’re modeling the behavior we want them to emulate.
● Create boundaries. The term ‘boundaries’ gets a lot of play these days, for good reason. Having personal boundaries, and boundaries for our children, is helpful in dealing with sibling arguments. Set clear rules and expectations around how they are expected to treat their siblings and people in general. Also let me know that their feelings and boundaries will be respected. When either of those lines are crossed, take a break and figure out how to mend and move on.
● Together shirt. When all else fails and your whistle has run out of steam? You grab an XL shirt and stick both of them in it. Have more than two kids? You’ll probably need an XXL. For real!
Other Helpful Resources:
● Siblings Without Rivalry (Book)
● We Disagree (Children’s Book)
● Siblings: You’re Stuck with Each Other, So Stick Together (Book)
● Arthur/Daniel Tiger (Shows)
Arguments amongst siblings are normal. So remember: we’re all in this together.
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