Even the most well behaved siblings will fight once in a while. But if you have a chronic case of sibling rivalry on your hands, sit down and evaluate what’s going on. Are the kids bored? Have they received inconsistent parental attention? Is there something happening at school? Talk to your children. Resentment that builds over time over time can result in aggression, verbal abuse, and in some cases, violence. Here are some tips on learning how to cope with sibling rivalry.
- Keep it separated – If your kids are really going at it, separate them. Unless they’re truly terrible, don’t make it a forced time out. Find an activity (whether fun or a chore) that they can accomplish on their own. Occupy them.
- Be patient – Take a deep breath. As a parent it’s easy to lose your cool when your kids are fighting, and it never makes anything better. Plan out calm, practical strategies to relieve tension.
- Recognize good behavior – Don’t wait for your kids to get out of control. When everyone’s behaving appropriately, recognize it verbally. Children feed off of positive reinforcement and will strive to change their actions so that they will hear it more often.
- Communicate – If your children’s rivalry seems fueled by resentment and doesn’t resolve using the above methods, talk to each child privately. Try to discover the root cause of the fighting, and address it head on. Ask your child to provide a potential solution, and then enable him or her to see it through.
By giving your kids the tools to resolve tensions in a peaceful and productive way, you help them learn to problem solve effectively—without physical or verbal abuse.
Want to read more? Mom of four, Tammy Spodek offers additional advice in this article: Can You Teach Siblings to Encourage One Another?