We’ve actually been discussing siblings throughout – so rather than repeating the same information, let’s just recap.
Here’s how to parent siblings:
- Separate the kids during fights.
- Give each child a task and redirect to something else.
- Use an energy-zapping session if necessary. (See: Anger Issues in Children.
- When getting each side of the story, use power phrases (‘Not your turn’, ‘I didn’t ask’, ‘That’s not what I asked’, etc.) and make sure the kids don’t interrupt each other or you.
- Guide siblings on how to act and what to say in each particular situation. TELL and SHOW them how to act appropriately.
- Guide kids on how to vent feelings appropriately. Make it clear that the feelings are okay but they cannot use actions or words to insult or hurt others. Use power actions to show them how: “When you’re feeling angry, tell me, Mom, I’m really angry right now and need a few minutes to calm down!” (OR) When your brother grabs your game pieces, you need to say, “John, that was rude. When you do that I don’t feel like playing with you.” Then make sure and guide John (the pestering sibling) on why he was wrong, how it made his brother feel, and what he should have said and done instead. Then John needs to apologize and receive a consequence, if necessary.
- Do not let their brains escalate. STOP the yelling by using power phrases and separation.
- Make sure your children get plenty of rest, exercise, and activity.
- Get rid of crappy food! It makes kids act crappy.
- Children must have chores and responsibilities. A chore chart helps tremendously! Follow it!
- SCHEDULES are essential! Define how much time each day the kids have for electronics, TV, play, homework, chores, etc. STICK to it!!
Any of the techniques in these articles can be applied and used with siblings, so have at it ready.
The most important aspect of sibling argument management is redirection during fights. Separate the kids. If you’re in the car, make them sit on their hands. Then make one kid look out his nearest window and the other look out the opposite window. They need to get their eyes, hands, and focus off of each other.
When not in the car, make them do something physical to zap that energy if needed: jumping jacks, laps around the yard, whatever. When they are in smart-aleck mode, they may laugh or think it’s fun until they start hurting or get tired. Then it’s not so fun anymore. Do not back down. This is where you make your point. So don’t cave on me.
Give them positive direction and don’t let the argument slide because you’ve had a long day at work. TELL them what to say and do in EACH particular situation. If you don’t tell them, they won’t know!
Talk siblings through minor spats so they understand how to work it out.
Amy: Hey, stop that!
Sara: I wasn’t doing anything!
Amy: Yes you were! You were messing with the thermostat and I just turned it down because it’s hot!
Adult: Hey. What’s going on?
Amy: Sara just. . .(then Sara interrupts, and they start arguing)
Adult: Anh! Sarah, Amy, voices off. Amy, tell me what happened.
Amy: Sara?s trying to mess up the A/C.
Adult: Sara, is that true?
Sara: No, I didn’t do anything!
Adult: Were you touching the thermostat?
Sara: I didn’t think. . .
Adult: (interrupt) I didn’t ask what you were thinking. I asked if you were touching the thermostat. Yes or no?
Sara: Yes, but I was just. . . she has it set to seventy five, and it’s not supposed to be that low!
Adult: Okay, then. If you were touching it, do you see why Amy thinks you were going to change the temperature?
Adult: Okay. Now turn the a/c off completely. It’s nice outside, so we don’t even need it on. Open some windows and turn on the fans. And Amy, the next time you have a problem with what Sara is doing, use better communication. Tell her, “I just lowered the temperature because I’m hot.” And if Sara reminds you that it’s not supposed to be that low, don’t get defensive. If you have a question about the rules, come ask me.
See? Guide your children on how to resolve arguments. Don’t let the problem escalate. Provide instruction on how to handle each situation.
Create calm authority.
Get kids focused on you and away from escalating behavior.
It’s important for kids to earn respect, earn their way, and earn the extras they want.
Giving too much leads to a difficult future for our children by creating a sense of entitlement, no skills, no character, no motivation, no work ethic, and no clue how to take care of themselves.
End sibling arguments and teach better communication skills.