I would love to tell you that my kids never fight and are always kind to each other, but I would be a total “liar, liar, pants on fire”! Whether it’s sibling arguments over Netflix or what game to play, the bickering is bound to happen when young humans are living in your home. That said, our family has come up with some ways to help deal with the arguments when they happen and, more importantly, to prevent them as much as possible.
Here are some of our tips for preventing and ending the sibling fighting in our home.
1. Buddy Breaks
My boys, ages 9 and 6, play pretty well together. However, when I know they will be spending a lot of time together (weekends, school breaks, vacation, etc.), I purposely schedule time for them to play alone in their rooms or in separate areas of the house. This helps both boys relax and recharge. I also implement buddy breaks if we have cousins over for a full day. Time apart before the tension begins has saved us many fights!
2. Set Reasonable Expectations
Before we arrive at someone’s house, meet friends for dinner, or spend the night at grandma’s house, I review the expectations for their behavior. This includes no fighting and reminders to cool down before they get upset with the other brother. I also try to remind them what to do if they are feeling frustrated (walk away, find something else to do, tell an adult, etc.).
3. Promote Teamwork
Instead of giving each boy a list of chores or tasks to complete on his own, I often have them do tasks together. Here are a few things they can do together (plus it helps you out, too!):
- Set the table
- Empty/load the dishwasher
- Pick up toys in their rooms or playroom
- Make a card for someone’s birthday
- Take cookies to a neighbor
- Organize DVDs/books
- Clean out the car
4. Let Them Solve It on Their Own
As hard as it is to listen to the fighting as it’s happening, I try to let them come to a compromise on their own. I will monitor what’s going on, but I try to stay out of the fight. When they were younger, we would simply talk about what they were upset about together, and that worked. Now that they are a bit older (and more stubborn), I let them try to find a way to compromise.
5. Use Humor
When they get to the point of needing some adult intervention, I turn to humor first. (I’m not sure they always find the humor in my methods though! Ha ha!) Here are some ideas I’ve tried:
- Have them hold both hands and stare at each other.
- Stare at each other and make funny faces.
- Clean the other brother’s room.
- Make the other brother a snack.
- Read a book to the other brother.
- Do a chore or non-competitive, quiet activity together.
Finally, we talk about what happened. Each person gets to tell his side of the story, and I also share how I felt about what happened. I remain calm and try to encourage them to do the same. Also, you should know that I don’t always react calmly–does any mom ever react perfectly every time?!?! These are just a few things that we’ve found success with most of the time.