Strategies for Sibling Conflict Resolution

The last thing you want to experience after a long day of stay-at-home parenting work  or office work is your precious children screaming, yelling, and fighting. 

Am I right, mom or dad?

Despite what that angelic picture of your children posing lovingly with their arms around each other on your Facebook profile portrays, the reality is that no sibling relationship is perfect.

While it’s not a behavior that’s to be encouraged, it’s actually natural for brothers and sisters to fight from time to time.

Depending on how your children’s brains are wired, such as a tendency toward intensity and being in control, some are going to fight, bicker, and scream at each other more often than others.

The more harmonious child who wants to please is not.

If you feel as though your children are fighting with each other more often than they are being kind and respectful, I have good news for you.

Constant fighting and sibling rivalry doesn’t mean your children hate each other. In fact, two siblings could deeply care about each other yet still antagonize and drive each other crazy every single day. 

The reason that the screaming, taunting, and hair pulling occurs is most likely due to your child’s lack of skills.

Sibling rivalry is often a result of poor emotional coping skills, communication skills, and self-regulation skills, which are super important when a brother or sister is driving a sibling nuts.

Lack of these skills is very common in children with ADHD, Autism, Sensory Processing Disorder, or Giftedness.

That’s because these children’s brains tend to be wired as less flexible, more demanding, and more impulsive.  These tendencies themselves generate aggressive responses from both the agitated child and the agitator.

If this sounds like your situation, and you’re feeling overwhelmed, I have the solution for you.

Correcting aggressive behavior between your children begins with developing skills.

You can teach your children how to appropriately interact with each other in a way that’s calm and respectful, and solves problems.

Here are Three Ways to Stop Siblings from Fighting, Yelling, and Hurting:

  1. Teach your child to express his or her feelings – Many children don’t take the time to tell  their sibling that they feel angry, hurt, sad, etc. Teaching your child to say something like “I’m sad.  I don’t like it when you take my doll,” is a great way to help her communicate to her sibling and develop independence in using her voice (extra important for times when you aren’t there to step in and help!).
  1. Teach Your Child About Second Chances – Billy may have knocked down Timmy’s block tower–a very legitimate reason for Timmy to be upset. In this situation, teach Timmy to  ask Billy to help make it better, by rebuilding the tower. Instead of fighting, this gives Billy and Timmy an opportunity to work together as a team to make the problem better. As a parent, you can support this by entering the room and saying, “You have one chance to work this out together so that you can keep playing.  If you don’t, you’ll need to take 10 minutes alone, and then you can try again.”
  1. Calmly Step In to Help Diffuse the Situation – There are going to be occasions where separating siblings is the best thing you can do to interrupt the bad behavior pattern. Discuss this at a family meeting so your children hear that “in our home, we play nicely with each other.” Be consistent with this rule.

Looking for more advice on how to raise children that genuinely love one another? Check out my blog post on 3 Positive Parenting Strategies to Raise Siblings Who Love Each Other

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