Over Christmas break we had two sick kids which meant a ton of days at home and more fighting than usual. My kids are usually loving siblings, but sometimes the ones closest to us know exactly how to push our buttons. No one is immune to fighting kids. Over the holidays, they both had croup and still wanted to do stuff, like play with their new toys, but had “I’m sick and crabby” attitudes. So I took to the internet and did some research about how other people are getting their kids to stop the bickering in hopes that I could magically go from fighting kids back to loving siblings again.
Most of the issues over break were about sharing. Lyla (6) is pretty good about sharing without really thinking about it or any prompting. Knowing that she will get her item back and in tact helps her part with things a little easier. Brady has less experience in his short 3 years, so he’s more reticent. Meanwhile he demands whatever the item he wants right now. That’s when the fights start.
“If children aren’t taught to share, it will cause them to feel resentment, cheated and even controlled by siblings.”
Jane Greer, Ed.D. Marriage and Family Therapist via eHow article
I’ve read articles that say you should let your kid choose whether or not they want to share and articles that say you need to force your kids to share everything all the time. These extremes are not something I’m into, instead we set sharing limits. For example, they both know they don’t have to share certain things that are special to them. Mainly, we abide by one of our family rules: treat others how you want to be treated.
Which brings me to another thing almost every article mentioned: set house rules. Make them clear cut, explain them throughly, post them in your home, use pictures so that younger kids can understand, and enforce them. We have a few rules we talk about and enforce everyday, but nothing posted. I plan to implement this ASAP.
On conflict resolution, the consensus is to address the hurt feelings instead of placing blame. While I don’t want to dwell on what someone did wrong, I do want both kids to know that behavior will not be tolerated in our home. Maybe that is when house rules would be referred to?? (**Note to self: tackle that task today!)
When conflicts happen, I believe in time outs. They work for us, sometimes my kids just need that 3 minutes to calm down so I can talk to them about what happened. When we talk, I ask them leading questions so they feel like they came to the conclusion on their own in hopes that they are able to eventually solve problems without me. This works fairly well for us most of the time, but that doesn’t really let the victim speak for themselves. I’ve been struggling for a way to let them feel “heard”. Thankfully I came across this gem:
Teach them to use a ‘bug’ and a ‘wish’. ‘It bugs me when _______________. I wish you would ________________.’
This really speaks to me because it reminds me of the “I-you” statement I learned in college. Learn more about that type of statement here. It’s a really great way to express something to your spouse.
Now that we’ve turned the kids back into loving siblings, it’s important to stress the fact that their relationship is important and that they are part of a team. Babble does it again with this really great article to help siblings improve their relationships. Here are my favorite ideas from that article:
- Retelling childhood memories of your own sibling relationships and talking about how much you appreciate your brothers and sisters today.
- Point out how happy one made the other after a good deed.
- Ask kids to hold hands every now and then. Holding hands represents protection, guidance, connection and love.
- Display siblings art in the other siblings bedroom. It’s a constant reminder for them to know how much they are loved by their siblings.
- Reading books to each other is such an important tool to encourage closeness, and it doesn’t necessarily require reading skills.
- Collect your favorite photos of your kids together and make a sibling book for each of them to keep.
We do most of these, but 6 is totally new and I’m going to add “make each kiddo a book” to my list of projects. We typically only do 3 if we are crossing a street. Maybe I should suggest they hold hands more often. The typical situation is that my daughter always wants to and tries to and my son usually isn’t into it. Hmmm, something to think about for sure.
Friends may come and go, but family is forever. Your brother doesn’t have to be your best buddy all the time, but you do have to love him, respect him, and stand up for him.
This is what my dad say to my brother and I growing up. I liked knowing that there was always someone on my side, even if that meant he didn’t really want to be at times. I echo this sentiment to my kids and we refer to our family as a team as often as possible. Every night my husband says this to our kids, its pretty sweet and a great reminder that we are all in this together.
I have so much to learn about his whole parenting thing. What do you do when your kids fight?