It is unavoidable, our children are going to get in arguments, even fights, there is going to be conflict and contention and disagreements. Sibling Rivalry will occur in every home.
As parents, should we step in, not step in, or ignore it all together?
Heather here, from FamilyVolley.com, and I want to give you a plan for handling these sibling fights. Part 1 of this two part series will cover what we as parents can do to prevent the fighting in the first place. (Yep, it can be our fault they won’t share the Lego man.) Part 2 will focus on exactly what to say and do when our kids are actually in the middle of a fight.
First, it is important to realize that the relationship that our children have when they are young, carries into adulthood. And, adult siblings have conflict also, so our kids need to learn how to deal with conflict with their siblings when they are young. Teach this concept to your children. They might not understand immediately, but eventually they will thank you for helping them have a strong relationship young, so that as adults, they are still friends.
That said, here are 8 key things that we as parents can do to prevent our kids from fighting.
1. Don’t ever compare your kids to each other or to other children. This one is straightforward, but comparing just sets our kids up for rivalries and for arguments because they are vying for your love and attention.
2. Give your kids 15 minutes of one-on-one time every single day. This is vital and one of the most important things that we can do as parents. Individual time helps our kids feel love and accepted and they will be less likely to have conflict with one another when they are secure with who they are.
3. Give each child their own space. Just like adults, our kids need their own space, their own things, and alone time. Kids should not have to share everything. We shouldn’t force them to. Even if you have children who are sharing a room, be sure they have their own space and things in that room and that you set family rules so possessions are respected.
4. Don’t over schedule your children. As parents, it is easy for us to run our kids around town because we have things to do, or schedule them for too many “good” things. All of a sudden we have tired and hungry kids who never have any down time or individual time, and of course, fighting ensues.
5. It is not your older child’s job, to take care of his/her younger siblings. Always making the older sibling watch and play with the young, will only breed contention and resentment, especially when the older child starts to play “mom/dad” and enforce rules. It is our job to be in charge, not our children’s.
6. Teach your kids WIN/WIN. As parents, we can be quick to assume that our children know how to problem solve and negotiate, but they don’t. They need to be taught, and we need to teach them. The key is to teach them to find ways for everyone to win. For example, one child divides the treat, and the other child gets to pick their piece first. First we play your game and then we play mine. Teach them to look for ways where everyone wins and all parties are satisfied and happy. This teaches empathy and helps our children think about others instead of themselves.
7. Teach the difference between feelings and actions. It is natural to have feelings. We want our children to understand happy, sad, angry…. Feelings are part of life. As parents we need to take things further and make sure they understand that it is okay to feel angry, but that those feelings cannot turn into inappropriate actions. Anger is the feeling, hitting would be the action. It is not okay to hit or yell because of it. They need to be responsible for how they show those feelings and what they do with how they feel.
8. Teach children how to manage themselves. We need to teach our children how to deal with, and manage their own emotions. This means we give them tools to use when they feel mad or sad, or happy. Happy feelings usually know how to take care of themselves, but anger and frustration can cause kids to lash out, lose their temper and lose control.
Find the management style that helps them best. Examples might include counting to 10, going outside and kicking the soccer ball against a fence, digging a hole to toss your anger into, going for a jog around the block, or even going into a closed room and yelling.
Implementing the above 8 tips will go a long way in preventing the fighting and arguing in the first place. Which means more peace in our homes, our cars, and our backyards.
What to do when your kids fight Part 2, where we talk about exactly what to say when you have to step in because your kids are fighting and arguing. A script that can work every time!
P.S. If you live in Northern Utah, mark your calendars for May 7th. The LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER Show is back and on May 7th we are going to “raise the roof” and celebrate Motherhood. The show is in its third year and has proven to be fantastic. Hope you will join us. Click the above link to see who is in the show this year.
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