I have studied various reasons why siblings fight and what role parents need to play in the drama. I also found out the main causes of children’s quarrels, according to science.
Mediate, but don’t pass judgmentAll parents love their children equally, but sometimes, we may not be able to show equal treatment when the kids fight. You may, inadvertently, end up taking the side of one child over the others, creating even more resentment in the process. If the fight is getting ugly and you do go in, don’t take sides. Instead, encourage the children to talk it out between themselves. Identify the problem as small, medium, or very big. Ask your children to find solutions for the problem and help them reach an agreement on their own.
Know when to intervene and when to leave them aloneRemember that violence, bullying, and other signs of physical altercation need to be nipped in the bud. No fight can justify hitting each other, but if the argument is relatively mild and the kids seem to be handling it, there is no need to go storming in. Studies shows that children who resolve fights themselves grow up to be tolerant adults in the future. And one study points out that it can even make you a better person. So the next time your children are fighting, even vociferously, let them sort it out as long as there is no physical threat or bullying.
Take the fun out of a fightChildren sometimes fight because they like the attention and the spotlight it gets them. Your youngest child or children may in fact be playing the victim for this very reason. Therefore, next time your children are fighting over trivial matters, ignore them. Look bored, disinterested if you can, and let them sort it out. But when they do something nice for each other, make it a big deal. This will take the fun out of the fights and make children understand that the more they cooperate and coexist in harmony, the more praise, and attention they get.
Dole out the same disciplineWhile you may not take sides or interfere too much, there are times you’ll need to dole out discipline as a parent. Forget getting into who started the fight. When and if the siblings fight, discipline them all the same. Time outs, grounding, writing down their feelings, choosing chores from the job jar; whatever works for you and your family dynamics.
Move outside for a breatherParents should know that, a cool way to avoid fights in the first place is to let children go outside, exercise, and blow off some steam. With the pandemic, children have been cooped up indoors for a long time. If you spot signs of crankiness, ask them to go play ball in the park or ride their bikes and you can also join them if you have the time. A child who has burned off steam with physical exercise will be less prone to pick fights and more interested in just having a warm meal and spending some quality time.
Put a pin in it to revisit laterWe're aware that children are quicker to get angry than adults, but this also means they are quicker to move on and forget all about it as well. If you can see an argument going on without any serviceable results, put a pin in the fight. Consider asking the kids to take a break, get some space, and take time off from fighting and each other. Involve the kids in doing something else for a while. Then revisit the topic a bit later, when things are calmer and the kids have forgotten their explosive emotions.
Understand sibling dynamicsAs a parent I'm sure you have noticed that there are times when children get along just fine, but only to be at each other’s throats the next moment. With kids, phases come and go, and a lot of it has to do with their ages. So whether it’s 2 kids or a whole houseful, sibling dynamics keep changing, and as parents, you have to go with the flow. Each child is an individual with ever-changing likes and dislikes and hormones, so the dynamics between them will keep changing. As parents, we can only provide the basis of a long-lasting healthy relationship by providing positive reinforcement of family values and generic goodness.
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