June 21st, 2007
So what do you do when your children drives you up the wall with their constant fighting?
In my previous post, I gave suggestions for proactively building good relationships among siblings. But if the fighting is so constant that they make it impossible to have any normal family time, try these Do’s and Don’ts:
DON’T take sides, even though it may seem like one is clearly wrong. There is never an innocent party. Chances are, both are guilty of contributing to the fight in some way. If you defend one child, it will only produce more ill-feelings.
DO give both kids equal time-out. Separate them for a time to cool off.
DON’T let them tell you what the other person did that was wrong. Replaying the situation will only fuel their anger. You will not get a clear understanding of the conflict since their story will always be biased.
DO make them tell you what they did to contribute to their problem. Their first response is always, “Nothing.” You know that cannot be true. They may continue to say they were just sitting there, minding their own business. Then you ask, “How do you think your brother feels to see you doing your own thing and he’s ignored?” “Is it possible that he annoyed you because you were purposely ignoring him?”
DON’T over-react with some outlandish punishment like, “If you guys fight again, you are both grounded for a month!” It’s unfair and it doesn’t promote a positive environment.
DO try re-enacting the situation with role playing. Have your children act like the other sibling. Talk about if each is portraying the other accurately. Let them express how it feels to be on the other end. Children are selfish and see things only from their point of view. Role-playing makes them more sympathetic to their brother/sister. This is also a fun activity!
DON’T just yell at them to stop. Take a deep breath, and try something different. Anything is better than yelling at them.