Tired of the kids fighting? Want to help them establish healthy relationships for life? Positive Parenting Solutions’ Amy McCready — who often appears on the Today show and hosts Breezy Mama’s webinars — gives great tips on helping your kids get along… no, really!
If you have more than one child in your home, you likely also have sibling rivalry. It’s a universal issue that haunts 7-year-olds, 17-year-olds and, chances are, more adults than you would guess. But that doesn’t mean you need to live with competition, arguing and an unwillingness to cooperate. Believe it or not, your kids can enjoy a good relationship with each other, for more than five minutes at a time! It just takes a little work on your part.
Sibling rivalry is perfectly natural when we look at it from the eyes of our kids. Consider your firstborn. For the first few years of his life, he’s the center of your universe, and the apple of your eye. You plan everything from vacations to mealtimes around his needs, and he gets the bulk of your time and attention. Then all of a sudden, “poof!” He has a new little sister and is instantly demoted from the esteemed position of “only child” to the lesser position of “firstborn.” What’s more, he takes a substantial cut in Mom and Dad’s attention.
Some sibling competition and jealously are normal in families, and you can’t eradicate it entirely. However, implementing these 10 strategies will have your kids battling less and maybe even enjoying each other a little more in no time:
10. Spend quality one-on-one time together with each child. Most sibling fighting is, at it’s core, a competition for the parent’s attention. Remove the need for kids to fight for your attention by proactively giving them the positive attention they need on the front end. Just 10 minutes of your undivided attention one or two times per day will do wonders to minimize the fighting intended to get your attention.
9. Avoid playing judge and jury. When kids fight, our gut reaction is to administer justice – to figure out who did what to whom and assign punishments as deemed necessary. Taking sides results in a winner and a loser and increases overall competition between siblings.
8. Establish family rules for “stuff”. Most sibling fighting is about stuff. So create rules for how possessions are handled in your home. Example – if you leave your prized Thomas the Train in the family room, then it’s fair game for anyone to enjoy. If you don’t want siblings to play with Thomas – put him on your “off limits” shelf in your room.
7. Avoid labels – positive or negative. Whether it’s a positive label, such as funny, smart, or athletic, or a negative label, like wild, shy, or not very motivated, labels draw comparisons which only fuel sibling competition.
6. Tame the competitive spirit in your family. Sibling fighting is worse in families in which “competition” is highly valued. Avoid setting up competitions between siblings – “let’s see who can get dressed the fastest” – it always leads to someone feeling defeated and upset.
5. Creating games that require kids to work together. Minimize competition and encourage cooperation by suggesting games that require kids to work together – “Let’s play Beat the Clock! See if you can beat your time from yesterday as you work together to clean up the toy room!”
4. Ignore complaints about “fairness”. Kids whine about “who got more” and “it’s not fair” because they know it garners a response. Most parents feel the need to justify why it “IS fair” which gives kids a big payoff of attention. Avoid the temptation to respond and just walk away. Within a few days, your kids will realize there’s no point and give up the grumbling about fairness!
3. Avoid over-relying on one of your children. Your “go to kid” may enjoy the attention and power that comes from being depended upon, but it almost always results him feeling compelled to maintain his “superior” position and the others feeling discouraged. Instead, find age-appropriate ways for everyone to contribute.
2. Have a plan for fighting in the car. Let them know in advance that it’s not safe for you to drive when they fight and if they choose to brawl in the car, you won’t say a word, you’ll simply pull over to the side of the road and wait for them to stop. Then – when the arguing begins, don’t say a word, just pull the car over and quietly wait until they stop. When it’s quiet, then proceed on your way.
1. Remember that sibling fighting is not just a kid problem. There are many ways that parents unknowingly fuel sibling rivalry and fighting. Join us for a complimentary live training webinar on September 29th to learn how you may contribute to the problem and discover concrete strategies to tame the sibling battles in your home.
Join Breezy Mama and Positive Parenting Solutions (as seen on the Today show) for a FREE webinar: Why Can’t These Kids Get Along?
Who Should Attend: Frustrated parents of kids ages 2-16 (Only one child? These strategies work with their friends too!)
Get ready to take off your referee shirt as you learn…
* the real payoff for kids’ fights
* how parents unknowingly fuel sibling competition and fighting
* the 3 most UNHELPFUL parent strategies
* The Tool Box – concrete strategies to minimize sibling fighting today.
To sign up (space is limited), click here!
Amy McCready is the founder of Positive Parenting Solutions and mom to two boys, ages 12 and 14. Positive Parenting Solutions provides a comprehensive online parenting course and unparalleled problem solving support for parents of toddlers to teens.
Be sure to watch our webinar host and Positive Parenting Solutions’ Amy McCready on Rachel Ray – this morning and on the TODAY Show on Thursday. Sept 16!
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