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Dealing with sibling’s constant bickering

September 23rd, 2009 / 4 Comments

A recent conversation with a mom with 3 little kids prompted my post on Getting Control of Your Frustrations.

Before I had kids, I was known to be a mild and gentle person. “Katy never gets mad.” But what happened to her after the kids came??

Children have the power to bring out the worst in us. In the previous post on Getting Control of Your Frustrations, we talked about constant interruptions that cause us parents to be frustrated.

Here is another scenario that makes us tear our hair out.

Constant Bickering

In the car, at the restaurant, at bedtime, during breakfast, lunch and dinner, the children are bickering about everything under the sun. “That’s mine.” “No, that’s mine.” “You started it.” “No, you started it.”  You feel a migraine rising up.

The fighting always leads to, ” MOMMMMMMY!” You’ve had it with them, and you are filled with anger and frustration.

Last weekend I saw my 95-year-old uncle and his 80-year-old wife. After some 40 years of marriage, they haven’t changed. My aunt would nag him about eating too much, and he would snap back with a response. They were bickering just the way I’ve always remembered!

Bickering becomes a habit, the MO for some relationships if it is allowed to fester. If you don’t want your kids to continue in this manner, something different has to happen.

The Solution

The first part of the solution is to get control of your own anger and frustration level.

1. Take a deep breath, close your eyes, and ignore them. Nothing productive happens when you are angry and they are angry. You’ll end up saying and doing things you’ll regret. So go wash your face, get a cup of coffee, and some chocolate. Do whatever it takes to get yourself in a better mood before you deal with the kids. (See my post on 10 ways to relax with the kids around.)

2. Regain your perspective. Sibling fighting is as old as Cain and Abel. Roommates bicker, co-workers argue, even nations are still at war. Why does it surprise us when our children fight?? This does not excuse their behavior, but accepting it as a part of growing up allows us to deal with it intelligently instead of merely reacting to the moment.

3. Be the adult in the situation. You know bickering is a childish behavior. If you yell, you will be descending to their level and become part of the problem. Remember, you are the adult here. Rise above the circumstances and do not allow yourself to be drawn into the fight.

Instead, grab the kids in the middle of their fighting and give them a big hug. No lecture, no blaming, no taking sides. Just a hug for everyone. Affirm your love for each of them. Tell them how much you love them. You cannot fight fire with fire. Douse a big dose of love to stop them in their tracks. The hugs will change your attitude as well. It works.

To deal with the specifics to stop the fighting, I’ve written three posts on this issue of bickering that gives practical ideas of what you can do:

Preventing Bickering

Stop the Bickering

Stop the Sibling Quarrels

Let me know what you have found helpful in stopping the bickering, and what does not work.

(This series on Getting Control of Your Frustrations continues in the next post – Getting Control of Our Anger)

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  1. […] be continued…Frustration #2 Dealing with Siblings Constant Bickering […]

  2. What great post, so informative and well-thought out. I especially like the part about regaining perspective and how it is a part of growing up. Thanks! 🙂

  3. When you wrote ‘grab your kids..’ I thought for a minute you were going to write, ‘and bang their heads together’ bahahaha, thats what I feel like doing when mine fight, or maybe bang my own head against a wall. thanks for all the great tips, I will definitely make some good use of them!

  4. […] Are you a parent like that? In this series on Getting Control of Your Frustrations, I talked about getting frustrated and angry when our kids constantly interrupt us, and when our kids constantly fight with each other. […]


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