“I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE! Personally, it drives me nuts when my kids are fighting and bickering. How do I keep my kids from fighting? How can I get my kids to get along? Let’s break down why siblings fight, then discuss how to prevent it in the first place and what is the best way to intervene when it does happen. Let’s go!
What causes your kids to fight in the first place? Sometimes it’s just a result of immaturity and children trying to express their needs and wants. Other times, rivalries develop because siblings feel they are in competition. This can be competition in skills or tasks. They may also feel they are competing for their parent’s love and respect.
Part of emotional intelligence is learning how to handle conflict in a socially acceptable way. Children learn this primarily from their home life. It’s up to US as parents to demonstrate how to calmly and rationally dissolve anger around us.
Personally, I’m so guilty of blowing up and choosing the angriest response. This, in turn, is regurgitated back to me by my children, and then I wonder where they get it from. I think step one is literally acting out emotionally healthy responses to everything around me so they learn a new normal.
Prevention is key! We learn this from infection control – the best way to fight a virus is to prevent yourself from getting it in the first place. Let’s talk about how we can prevent the fight from even starting between your kids!
Remember they are children. They’ve only been around for a few years. They don’t have the wisdom and experience you do. So, throw in a few extra doses of patience and deep breaths. Remind your kids they are still learning and they are not ‘bad people.’ They are making a bad choice. They will follow your lead if you tell them they are ‘bad’ or ‘sinful’ as opposed to just labeling the behavior.
Never compare your kids to each other or other children. This is an emotional grenade. It destroys them.
Give them one on one attention, with eye contact, doing something they enjoy. Get on the floor and play legos with them. Put on headphones and listen to their new favorite song. Grab the controller and play a video game with them. Be all there.
Make sure your kids get enough personal space and time. Kids need ‘alone time’ or ‘down time’ just like we do. Let them decompress for a few minutes in their own space. (This is SUPER important for us as a family of 4 living in a tiny house!)
Give grace when they are hungry, tired, or thirsty. Conflict is harder to resolve when these 3 factors are added!
Don’t allow older children to take responsibility or discipline the other. It’s the parents’ job to be in charge.
Elevate a culture of respect. Do not allow violence, name-calling, or humiliation – from adults or other children. Everyone must show and demand respect.
Label and validate feelings, then teach how to self-manage. Self-control is an important virtue developed over time. Help children to label their feelings and validate them. Afterward, teach them to release but control these emotions. Maybe by taking a walk, kicking a ball, digging a hole, or deep breaths. They can repeat these techniques when they are overcome by these emotions to prevent yelling or hitting their siblings.
Intervene when fights erupt and give your undivided controlled response.
Not sure how to intervene without erupting? Yeah, I’m still mastering that too. But let’s talk about techniques and methods to be better parents in these situations.
It starts with you. Stay calm and rational. All children, at any age, look to their parents as an emotional compass to navigate their environment. This is the first step in teaching them how to manage feelings.
Never take sides or tolerate ‘he/she started it.’
Enforce a ‘calm down’ corner if things get really heated. Let the kids calm down in private before you start conflict resolution.
Bring them back together to respectfully listen to each other and express themselves. Mediate by repeating the feelings and goals to the other child. Make it clear to each one what the other is trying to express.
If you have children, you know maintaining peace and harmony in your house can be super hard! I hope these tips help you trick your kids into getting along!”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Meg Harrell of Meg For It Blog. Follow her journey on Instagram here and Facebook here. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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