There are a few things that make my blood boil. Injustice is one of them; judgemental people are another. Those are two totally reasonable things to get annoyed over.
And then there is the other thing that I have struggled to cope with and that is the sound of my kids fighting.
I know, I know, it’s crazy. I used to argue all the time with my sisters. It’s a part of life. And yet for some reason when my own children do it I feel like I am somehow failing as a parent.
Even though days can pass when they get along so well, my ears immediately prick up when an argument erupts over something silly – like when so-and-so touches something that doesn’t belong to him or her and it’s like a national disaster to the other kid.
I usually spring into action when really I should be stopping to take a deep breath.
HERE’S SOME TIPS FOR WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR KIDS ARE FIGHTING
(Note: I’ll be the first to admit I need these strategies just as much as every other parent).
UNDERSTAND IT IS NORMAL
I’m here to tell you the truth – it really IS normal. In a perfect world, no child would ever fight with his or her brother or sister but that is the side-effect of living in close quarters with your loved ones, especially if they have different personalities. Sometimes kids will disagree. They can still love each other deep down but not necessarily like or agree with what their sibling is doing at that time. Haven’t you ever felt that way about your partner?
SEE IT AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO LEARN HOW TO RESOLVE CONFLICT
That’s the beauty of having siblings. From an early age our kids have the opportunity to learn how to deal with and resolve conflict. These life lessons – like learning that sometimes life isn’t always fair, yes you have to take turns and stand up for what you believe in – will ultimately help your kids in relationships outside of the home, later on in life. So let them gain those all-important resolution skills.
News alert – they are having a fight with their sibling which we have established is normal. There is no need to react as if World War 3 has just erupted in your home. You also don’t need to come out with the big guns and make threats that take a little argument to a whole new level. As a parent, you are supposed to be the voice of reason, not the over-reactor.
Whenever I have overreacted in the past (yep, I’m guilty of that) my children have looked at me as if to say: “what’s your problem?” Their advice offered to me now (as 11 and 13 year olds) is “let us resolve it ourselves. Don’t come and make things worse!” So yes, sometimes you need to step back. There is no need to intervene unless it is absolutely necessary.
If things go to the next level, it is time to separate the kids. Acceptable time apart is 20 minutes, so the flame of fire has the opportunity to die down a bit.
OR SEND THEM ALL OUTSIDE
Sometimes a change of environment works wonders at breaking the tension. They can continue shouting and yelling outside or try to work things out but either way, there is no room for Level 2 arguments inside the house. Inside the house, we can all learn to talk calmly and rationally.
CATCH THEM BEING GOOD
This is more of a preventative piece of advice. For the most part, my children get along. And I absolutely love them when they are like this! Yet I often forget to tell them exactly how much it pleases me when they are behaving in a kind and respectful way.
You need to praise your children when they are behaving well, not just punish them when they are acting up. This may be a subliminal thing – the kids may not even realise the impact of your words. But positive reinforcement can definitely go a long way in encouraging more of the behaviour you love.
SET A GOOD EXAMPLE
How do you act when something doesn’t go your way? Do you yell and scream? Do you carry on like a crazy person? It’s scary to think that our children might be mirroring our own behaviour but it often happens, given that we are their first and most important role model.
So make a conscious attempt to set a good example for your kids. If you want them to be forgiving, show them forgiveness. If you want them to be understanding, show them understanding. If you want them to be mean and critical of others, be mean and critical to them. Scratch that – of course you don’t want that!
Hopefully you understand my message. You have the opportunity to set a good example for your children and teach them how to resolve things in a mature and kind way. Show them how it’s done. Lead the way! And remember to be patient when it takes time for your message to sink in (I’m guessing it will take time!).
7 THINGS TO DO WHEN KIDS ARE FIGHTING
-Only step in if absolutely necessary
-Don’t play the judge or take sides
-Accept each child is allowed to have his or her own feelings
-Avoid labels and comparisons
-Help kids find a resolution on their own
-Don’t worry about who started the fight!
-Separate if necessary
7 THINGS TO DO POST- FIGHT (IF YOU HAVEN’T ALREADY DONE SO)
-Establish the ground rules and consequences for serious actions like hitting or punching
-Brainstorm ideas on how each child can diffuse anger in others and in themselves
-Model good behavior with your partner
-Practice resolving conflicts
-Spend one-on-one time with each child – give them lots of individual attention
-Avoid boredom and/or built-up resentment in kids – both are common reasons for fights
-Realize sibling arguments are normal and not the end of the world.
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How To Raise A Child With Grit
Top 5 Must-Know Lessons To Teach Your Teens
How To Spoil Your Kids (If You Insist On Doing Some Real Damage)
100 Rules For A Good Life