Tips & Resources

Sibling Rivalry: When Siblings Fight

Fighting and arguing among siblings is so upsetting to parents that most of them intervene too often or too quickly. Unless your kids are so angry or out of control that they're hurting each other, I suggest the "less is more" approach. Whenever possible, encourage kids to solve their own problems instead of playing judge and jury. When siblings fight, the worst three words in the English language are: "who started it?". Why? Because a) you're assuming that one child is guilty and the other innocent; b) neither is going to admit "I started it" and take the blame c) even if you discover who started it, the goal is to end it, not play detective.

Sometimes, however, you have to intervene to protect your children from hurting each other. But when you step in, it's important not to take sides. Instead state your values briefly and firmly-without accusing or attacking either child. For example, you could say: "In this home, there will be no hitting (hurting, name calling, pinching, pushing)". A statement I used with my sons was "I will not let one child I love hurt another child I love".

Be aware that fighting is fun for some kids, especially if they can pull you into the middle to take sides. But there is hope--don't assume that because they bicker, fight and argue they will never get along. And if it seems that they're "always fighting", try to notice those wonderful moments when your kids are playing, giggling, being affectionate and having fun together.

For a more in-depth discussion of sibling relationships, I suggest you refer to my third book, LOVING EACH ONE BEST: A Caring and Practical Approach to Raising Siblings (Bantam).

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