As sure as the sun will shine, siblings will argue. It's simply unavoidable because siblings compete against each other for virtually everything. Whether it's for the first turn on a gaming console, the last piece of pizza, or mom and dad's attention they always seem to be fighting with one another. Siblings that aren't able to get along can cause stress for the whole family and particularly for parents who often fall into the role of peacemaker. As frustrating as it can be to hear the constant bickering and blowouts your children have with one another, there are actions that can be taken to ease the suffering of the both contenders and spectators of these sometimes extremely volatile brawls.
Hear Them Out
When children are arguing, it can be tempting to run into the room and scold your warring children with a quick 'Knock it off!' or punishment. This is a temporary solution, and although a quick fix can make life easier in the short term, the original issues remain festering below the surface until the next round. Mother Traci Cummings has found it to be much more effective if children are able to approach their parents and have their grievances acknowledged. Hearing kids out makes them feel their issues with another sibling have been validated. Once your child informs you of his or her complaints with any specific information about the current conflict, you will be better able to offer up advice on how they can effectively communicate their needs to their sibling. Then parents are able to encourage the plaintiff to make an attempt at resolving the conflict himself. This is also an excellent teachable moment for children and a time for them to develop their conflict-resolution skills. Providing your children with the correct tools for handling disagreements will prime them for future disagreements when a mediator may not be present.
Psychologist and author Gordon Neufeld explains parents may be able to help the peace process of sibling fights by teaming their children up with one another. With the use of steady encouragement, guidance, and emphasis of one sibling's importance to the other, children are more apt to take on a nurturing role for younger siblings and develop a desire to protect their sibling as opposed to arguing with them. Of course, disagreements will develop from time to time. Disagreements arise in even the healthiest of relationships, but children who are encouraged to nurture each other will respond to conflict in a healthier manner simply due to the quality of the attachment between them.
Be A Fly On The Wall
Most parents jump into action when they hear the grating and abrasive sound of two children squabbling over a hairbrush. This may be necessary if the fight has escalated to the point of getting physical, or there are unacceptable comments being made. However, pediatrician Alanna Lavine suggests that parents keep their distance when their children are arguing so they can begin to develop the skills to resolve conflict early on in their lives. Furthermore, refraining from interjecting in arguments between siblings will keep you from being forced to take a side, which can lead to resentment between your children. Thus, it is thought best to stay out of it.
Regardless of the cause of conflict, it is a parent's job to respond rather than react to squabbling children. It is extremely important to address the issues in an appropriate way where all parties involved come away from the argument feeling as if their issues have been resolved. Moreover, when a child is able to have healthy arguments with a sibling, they are learning how to navigate through situations where there may be a need for compromise and direct communication that is difficult to learn without encountering conflict.