When you have more than one kid, you have to referee sibling fighting, and rivalry chances are good to excellent. The fact is, even the best sibling relationships will have moments of tension and conflict.
Yet a much more secure home and sisterly harmony can be accomplished with a little wisdom and patience. When a good sibling bond is established early, and children are taught how to manage conflict with their brother or sister, fighting and rivalry can be significantly minimized.1 This essential family bond can flourish and grow strong once children learn how to work through their differences.
First, teach the children how to deal with conflict in a positive way. Children who are taught how to manage disagreements constructively — say, by listening to the point of view of their siblings or not engaging in name-calling — will be in a much better mind to settle disputes and move past fighting. Children who grow up learning how to prevent and resolve conflicts with their siblings in the future will be better able to negotiate and work out compromises Learning how to handle disputes with their brothers and sisters can help children develop into adults with the ability to settle disagreements and to maintain relationships better with others.
Some parents may mistakenly think it’s best to allow children to deal with conflict on their own. To a certain degree, this can be true as long as children can handle disputes constructively, respectfully, and peacefully. But if the argument gets heated or there’s verbal or physical aggression, intervene immediately. If you’re not there to see the discussion, sit down with them and talk about what happened, and make it clear that any kind of aggression isn’t acceptable in your home.
Listen to every side of the argument. In a sibling struggle, there are two sides to each story. Let each child feel, without judgment or interruption, like he or she is being heard. Kids often feel much better about a problem after winding up with mom or dad, especially when they think they can state their position, and it’ll be heard fairly.
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