January 26, 2013

Tips for Handling Sibling Arguments

If you have followed our blog for long, you know that I’ve just recently became the mother of two little boys. My oldest is five and my youngest is three months. While they aren’t old enough to have“arguments” between one another, my oldest is starting to have a few issues with his little brother…mainly because his brother cries and he can’t hear his cartoons. I have friends who have two or more children and therefore I know that this is just the beginning of sibling “arguments.”

As a result, I figured that today would be a good day to do a little research on how to handle these arguments so I’m prepared once they are in “full force.” After all, when kids are little, these brotherly/sisterly fights can stem over anything. It doesn’t matter if it’s a toy, a favorite Easter dress (or shirt for boys) or the thought that one might touch the other one. I’m sure I’m not the only parent out there anticipating these arguments. In fact, there may be some of you experiencing them first hand who would like a few tips for handling them. Below are some of the suggestions I found during my research.
1. Send arguing kids to a room together until they work out the problem. I thought this idea was genius, especially if you have kids of the same gender. One of my friends actually does this one. When her daughters are arguing, she will make them both go into a room together and tell them they are not allowed to come out until the issue is resolved and they are both okay. This forces both children to deal with their feelings and each other and also teaches them a little about conflict-resolution.

2. Take away the item in question. A lot of siblings fight over a favorite toy, article of clothing or another “favorite” item. One way to quickly nip the argument “in the bud” is to give the kids an ultimatum: “You have 2 minutes to decide who gets to play/wear it and if you don’t make a decision, I’ll take the item and neither of you will get to enjoy it.” You will probably have to follow through with your threat a few times, but eventually your kids will get tired of losing their favorite things and will learn how to work out their disagreements among themselves.

3. Help your kids work through the disagreement. For those of you with young children who fight a lot, it may be necessary for your to intercede and play “judge.” The important thing when taking on this role is that you listen to both sides (make sure neither child is able to interrupt the other while speaking) before you determine who is in the wrong. When your decision has been made, explain why you feel the way you do to both children. This can help children in the future when they’re involved in conflict because, believe it or not, they do remember what you say. It is also a good idea to make the child in the wrong apologize to the other, if he/she has committed an action that warrants an apology.