Supporting Parents. Fostering Change.

How to Stop Bickering Siblings

Dear Cathi, 

My children have been home from school for almost a month now. I am enjoying our time together as a family, but my son and daughter are bickering constantly. I feel like I’ve tried everything under the sun to get them to stop. I’ve tried bribing, yelling, separating them, cajoling. You name it; I’ve tried it. What can I do? 

Jeanne


Dear Jeanne,

As frustrating as it is to be around quarreling siblings, do know that this is not only normal, but desirable. There is no such thing as a conflict-free household. Instead, the goal is for a family to work through issues in a healthy way. Children learn tremendously how their behavior impacts other people from feedback from their siblings. I have a few ideas for you:

  1. Special time with each of your children individually is probably the most useful way to reduce conflict at home. Even 15 minutes of regularly scheduled time once a week doing an activity of your child’s choice is enough time to help your child feel he/she is a priority to you and lessen the conflict between siblings.
  2. Establish a family meeting one time weekly to resolve conflicts creatively as a family.
  3. Create clear family ground rules and consequences for breaking the ground rules.
  4. Encourage cooperation by doing family projects i.e. plant a garden, build a tree house, etc.
  5. Develop rituals to build family identity i.e. weekly family movie night, breakfast for dinner night.
  6. Get involved in sibling conflicts as little as possible; communicate trust that they can work it out together.
  7. Remember these Dont’s: don’t compare your children; don’t take sides; don’t reward tattlers; don’t let yourself get too emotional.

Good luck, Jeanne. I hope this helps.

Cathi

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