This is #7 of my Top 10 Parenting Questions:
Q: How do I stop my kids from fighting with each other?
A: I guess you could throw them into a pit and let them fight it out. No no no … just kidding 🙂
Sibling rivalry/fighting is common and healthy, to a point. Siblings teach children how to share, problem solve, bully, fight, love, negotiate, etc. They are a great source of life skills, good and bad.
In order to avoid the bad, and encourage the good, you need to be the referee. Parents often just expect kids to be able to get along without teaching them any social skills. Some come naturally to children but others need to be taught.
Sharing is a good example of a skill that needs to be taught. I did a Global News segment on Sibling Rivalry recently but unfortunately the clip wasn’t captured by the producer. Was a good clip so was disappointed but that happens sometimes. Anyway, sharing was covered and it’s one of the 2 easiest parenting complaints I deal with (the other is whining).
I’ll use examples:
1 piece of cake, 2 children – 1 cuts and the other chooses the piece he/she wants. This keeps the cutter honest
1 swing and 2 children – 1st swinger gets 2 minutes on swing, 2nd swinger gets 3 minutes, then each turn after that is the same
Getting the idea? These 2 examples should be able to get you thru every single sharing issue.
Separating them for long periods of time works well for many other issues. But, it has to be for a whole day or else they won’t have a chance to miss each other. It’s amazing how they end up missing each other even though they may seem to fight all the time. Some siblings bond over fighting and miss that bond.
Give them the tools to resolve conflict then just intervene when necessary. Praise them for working problems out on their own.