Sibling rivalry is natural and is not necessarily a cause for concern.

Sibling rivalry is natural and though it can be very upsetting to watch, it is not necessarily a cause for immediate concern. In fact, children fighting can even be a good thing, since it can teach them early on how to value another person’s perspective, how to compromise and negotiate, and how to control their angry impulses.  What is important, is learning how to deal with it as a family, so we’ve got some tips which we think will help. 

 

Why children fight

Very essentially, the reason siblings fight is normally for parental affection and attention, especially if there is an age gap, but there are a few more nuanced reasons which can help when deciding how to manage siblings fighting.

-        Different needs

What ages your children are will have a huge effect on why they fight – a toddler may feel very possessive about their toys, where a teenager may want simply to be left alone. Try to understand the individual child’s needs so you can help avoid problems before they start.

-        Different personalities

If one child is more inclined to be boisterous while the other is shy or laid-back, it is inevitable that sometimes they will clash. Understanding each child’s particular temperament can help you avoid situations which might lead to these clashes.

-        Parents’ example

Children copy their parents’ behaviour; this is a widely-known fact. If they see you slamming doors and shouting when you are angry, then it is likely they will follow suit. If they see you deal with arguments in a calm and respectful manner, they will learn from that too.

-        Living together

Living in close proximity with others will often cause problems whoever you are. Make sure every family member – parents included! – has a little space and alone time and this ought to help avoid tension as well as arguments.

 

Top Tips for dealing with fights.

1. To avoid the jealousy associated with a new addition to the family, try to make them friends before birth by encouraging toddlers to be excited for the new baby.

2. Take notice early on what it is they are fighting about and try to manage this. For example, if they are arguing over who sits in the front seat, set it up so they take it in turns.

3. Don’t take sides or focus on whose “fault” it was. Remain as removed from the argument itself as possible.

4. Try not to step in unless someone will get hurt physically – kids need to learn to sort out these things on their own.

5. If you do have to step in, separate them until they calm down

6. After arguments occur, set ground rules and consequences – establish these WITH the kids, so they know exactly what will happen if they do fight, and make it clear that you will have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to the things you have set out (no hitting, no shouting, no slamming doors etc.)

7. Set up ways each child can prevent getting into fights in the first place. Teach them not to respond to teasing, and to remove themselves from any situation when a fight starts. This might be a long shot but, if they get the hang of it, it will stand them in good stead for later on in life.

8. Spend one-on-one time with each child doing things they like so both feel like they get quality time with you.

9. Never compare siblings to each other. Ever.

10. And last, but by no means least, do not forget to praise them for good behaviour! Giving them credit when they do not fight (say, on a long car journey) will teach them just as much as telling them off when they do.

 

How do you deal with your kids fighting? We’d love to know! So get in touch on Facebook or Twitter and share your tips with our community of parents.