Picture this .. You and your partner have had a busy weekend(full of chores and kiddie birthday parties) and finally on a late Sunday afternoon you finally get a few minutes to put your feet up and grab a cup of tea… you are feeling relaxed as kids are busy playing upstairs and all is quiet…. MUMMY! DADDY! she scratched me! he grabbed my toy! Arghhh! You spill tea on your best white trouser.. Grrrr!! Ever wondered why siblings fight or more importantly, HOW to stop siblings from fighting before it sends you into meltdown? That too before you pull all your hair out… already you have lost a lot of hair !
Children fight for various reasons such as wanting parents’ attention, jealousy, not getting enough space from their younger sibling or even feeling victimised.. here are few tips on how you can prevent/reduce your children fighting based on my experience and maybe it could stop you from throwing your face in your hands repeatedly:
Don’t Compare Your Children
Don’t compare your children to each other or to anyone for that matter. Each child has his/her own identity and personality. Recognise their way of thinking .. their mindset. If one child is good at something don’t tell the other(s) , “look, she does this so well, why don’t you do this” or “he always listens to me, you don’t “. Each child, just like us adults excels at something and is not too good with certain things. Find out what each child excels at and encourage them, praise them for it.
Do Give Lots of Individual Attention
You could say I spent the whole day playing and eating with the kids etc but you need to spend time individually as well with each child. You may claim where is the time for that??
What I would do is this. In case, you have two children like me… when one goes to a birthday party or a play date, play with the other child. Let him/her choose the game or activity and play with them for at least half an hour… do the same for the other.. Also, by doing this you will also see each child’s identity shine through which helps on the previous point. Husband and I take turns going to birthday parties for each child and have found over time that our bond had grown stronger with each child and also our understanding of them.
Boredom Leads to Fights
When children have nothing to do especially when the weather is bad during the holidays, they will fight more .. the reason is Boredom..
Keep a mental note (or if you are forgetful like me, write on a paper and put it on the fridge!) of all activities they like doing, excluding watching television and computer/iPad games. Structure their day with different activities or even board games so they get mental and physical stimulation. If they are busy they won’t fight.. if they don’t fight you will have a lot more hair left on your head!
Kids Need Their Own Space Too!
One of the Mums in my daughter’s class said to me “She is only 5, why does she need her own space?” In my opinion even children need their own space, spend time with themselves without their sibling .. have their own peace and quiet .. play their own games .. This will also make each child appreciate the other ..However, give them the space without making it feel like a punishment. Don’t enforce playing separately.
Set A Good Example
Children always consider their parents as their role model. For example, if children see the parents sharing and caring for each other, children will do the same towards their parent as well as their siblings..
Praise Their Good Intentions
Whenever your child does something good/positive for his/her sibling, praise him/her. Children get encouraged to do good things for each other when it is recognised by the parent. Also, it will make the other child copy these positive actions.
Explain Your Actions
In case, you are buying/giving something to one and not to the other, make sure you explain to both/all your kids why you are doing so. Sometimes children might feel you are favouring one child over the other. That can have a negative impact on the child and can cause a lot of resentment towards his/her sibling(s).
If you feel that there are always fights regarding certain things like who washes their hands first before meal times, make rules for them, for example take turns as to who washes their hands first. Make sure that the rules are followed and turns are taken.
Despite your best efforts and intentions kids being kids Will Fight! What you do then?
- Stay Calm- Remember kids are kids and they will fight. If you shout at them, it’s not going to help matters at all. If you are a Dad, please bear in mind that kids might get scared because of your masculine/louder voice.
- Don’t take sides- you have to be diplomatic unless one child is blatantly causing hurt or grief to the other.
- Give them more attention- Have you been too busy lately? Perhaps you have moved house? or you have had too many deadlines at work and have been coming home past their bedtime? Your kids might be quarreling more due to lack of attention. Remember Dads are as important as Mums. Just spend time with them, go for a picnic if the weather is good.. or play some good old footie!
- You be in charge- When you are trying to mediate between your kids, chances are they will keep putting the blame on the other and not do what you tell them to do. In that case, be firm. Don’t let them step all over you!
- Use positive methods to discipline them- Explain to them calmly why their actions would hurt others or what was wrong with what they did.
Kids will fight, but it is up to you as a parent on how you will deal with it.You can either shout and scream at them or punish them but this could create a negative environment which unfortunately will not resolve anything. Another option is to calmly make them listen to you. After every fight, I tell both my kids to hug each other and say sorry to each other. Kids forgive very easily and then there are no ill feelings towards each other.
In case, you have any other suggestions/ideas based on your experiences please put your comments below.