Photo compliments: http://philosophyunhinged.blogspot.com
When I was a teenager, my sister and I fought like cats and dogs. One day, while on vacation, my sister and I were fighting in the back of the van, like usual. My step dad, in frustration, craned his head around and said, “You wanna beat each other’s brains in…here” and handed my sister a hammer and gave me a wrench. In anger, we raised our weapons, looked each other in the eyes, then began to laugh. We put the weapons down and that was the end of the fighting during our vacation.
I would not recommend that intervention for your children!
I would recommend a different approach.
My three kids love each other. My boys can’t stop touching each other, wrestling, purple-nurpling, nuggies, playing tag, head locks and rolling on each other like a steam-roller. My girl also enjoys getting into the playful mess to a degree. These events are fun to witness, but sometimes it turns into pushing, shoving and fights between the boys. If my girl is involved, she will fight with her words or she will be more creative in her pot-stirring, such as running upstairs and changing the song on the wireless head phones that her brother is listening to.
The words start flying and the peace leaves.
Sometimes, I set back and allowed them to try to come to a resolution on their own. This happens on occasion.
Often times I will have to intervene. I’ve tried yelling, spanking, grounding and a variety of other tactics.
Here is what has worked for us:
- Stop what I am doing and teach them conflict-resolution strategies. As a parent, you play a huge part in teaching them how to resolve conflict!
- Teach turn taking. (You pick the movie today, your brother picks tomorrow and your sister the next day.) Everyone on the team knows what to expect, therefore, it decreases the likelihood of fights breaking out.
- Teach the kids to listen to one another. On of the reasons kids yell is because they feel the offending party is not listening to them.
- Teach the kids to respect each others stuff.
- Teach the golden rule: treat each other the way you want to be treated; like you would a classmate, with dignity and respect.
One day, this past summer, the boys were fighting terribly, saying mean things to one another. After several minutes of listening to them argue, I knew I was going to have to intervene.
I came down stairs and took them both by the hands and led them outside. I did not say a word. I got my daughter and brought her outside as well. By this time, they were not arguing because they were curious as to what I was doing. I went into the kitchen and filled a pitcher with water. I came outside carrying the pitcher. I strategically placed the kids facing one another.
I began, “When you fight, this is what you are doing to each other.” I made them get water from the container and flick it at their brother and sister. They began to smile. All of them were flicking water at each other, giggling.
“This is what your actions do to each other. In reality, this is what happens to everyone else.” I stood in the center of the triangle of kids with the container and dumped some of the water on my head, then spun around. Water flew everywhere. It reached the driveway, the porch, the trees. It doused the kids.
They were not expecting that.
Wiping water from my eyes I continued, “You are not only fighting between yourselves, you are causing problems all around you. It affects mom and dad too. We get wet too because of your arguments. You’re not just shooting yourselves in the foot, you are spreading napalm, sticky poison, around you.”
That got their attention and I could tell it sank in. It bothered them knowing that mom and dad are hurt too because of their arguments.
Fast forward 6 months. The kids still argue, but not near like they used to. I have to intervene sometimes, but it is much better.
I would much rather have a peaceful home than one filled with strife.
So, I would love to hear your comments. What strategies do you use to curb sibling rivalry?
- Children And Parents Benefit From Reducing Sibling Rivalry (medicalnewstoday.com)
- Study: Sibling Rivalry Can Lead To Depression (stlouis.cbslocal.com)
- Who Cares More for Mom? (time.com)