Sibling fights can be exhausting for parents, especially when parents don’t know what to do to prevent them from happening again and again. How do you make your kids stop fighting? You’ll be surprised to learn that sibling rivalry is often triggered by something you (the parent) are doing or not doing. Getting your kids to stop fighting starts by creating a fair environment. Here are four ways you can achieve this.
#1. Avoid Using Labels
To keep siblings from fighting, parents must establish a fair and impartial environment. First, you should stop using labels that cause “comparison tension.” Labels that you may be using innocently, like “the kind one” or “the naughty one,” are bound to stir up tensions among siblings. When you refer to one child as “the kind one,” it may imply to your other children that they aren’t kind. Likewise, labeling your other child as the “naughty one” may reinforce negative behaviors, and they may resent their sibling for being the favored child.
Sometimes it’s not the words you use but your actions. Do you look to one child more than the others for help or feedback? Are you failing to show your other kids that you trust them just as much as the next child? Empowering one child more than another sets the stage for competition and resentment.
#2. Don’t Reinforce Victim-Aggressor Behaviors in Sibling Fights
When our kids fight, our natural reaction as parents is to find out who started it. Once we think we have it figured out, many of us address it in the wrong way. We comfort the victim with affection, and we reprimand the aggressor by scolding them or sending them away to their room. Sound familiar? When we take this disciplinary approach, we are empowering victim-aggressor behaviors. Handling it in this manner teaches the so-called “victim” of the fight that being weak will get them attention. It also shows the so-called “aggressor” how much power they have by acting in such a way.
Instead of minimizing anyone’s feelings, parents should model what mutual respect is and teach children how to express their emotions in an appropriate way. Help them figure out what feelings—anger, jealousy, or sadness—led to the fight. Doing so will help them be prepared for dealing with conflict in the future. Help both sides find positive traits in their siblings.
#3. Recognize When They’re Getting Along
When kids are looking for attention, sometimes they’ll settle for any kind of attention they can get. The key is to give more attention to the good behavior than the bad behavior. If you notice your children working on a project peacefully together, make sure you recognize it and praise them for it. Make sure to show interest in each child.
#4. Stay Calm
Don’t treat every sibling fight like an ordeal. Doing so will add to the drama and signal to your kids that this is the way to get attention. So, stay calm and don’t overreact to the small fights.
For tips on positive discipline, read Hospitality Health ER’s blog on 3 Tips to Handling A Whining Toddler and Why Yelling Can Be Harmful. To stay in the know about the latest health care topics, follow Hospitality Health ER on Facebook or visit our blog weekly for new information.