When to intervene in sibling fights

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When to intervene in sibling fights

It happens in life, as you have observed, that the older sibling picks on the younger sibling. Let's take an example of an older boy that picks on a younger boy. I'll say that I have a brother that's two years older than me, and picked on me. So everyone has probably gone through this, but it's still painful to watch. A few things to think about. Thing number one is think back to your own life and how it happened to you. Where were the pressure points for you? React to the pressure points. By that, I mean, don't react to all of it. Pick the ones that are absolutely hurtful, the ones that are really, really hurtful, focus on those, and have consequences and discipline regarding those. Always a three times rule. It happened once, okay, I'm going to give you the warning. You do it again, okay, punishment. The third time, big punishment. Allow for the kids to make mistakes after we've provided, "This is the wrong thing." A lot of other things, are fine. Kids are going to survive this other stuff. So pick the one that really, really matters, or pick the five that really, really matters. Even if the younger sibling cries, still look carefully because it could be, 30 seconds later, he's laughing. Maybe that wasn't the pressure point, but at some point, he's going to go into a deep funk for an hour or two hours or five hours. That's the pressure point. That's the one to work on.

See Michael Gurian, MFA, CMHC's video on When to intervene in sibling fights...


Expert Bio

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Michael Gurian, MFA, CMHC

Family Counselor & Author

Michael Gurian is the New York Times bestselling author of 25 books published in 21 languages. He provides counseling services at the Marycliff Center, in Spokane, Washington. The Gurian Institute, which he co-founded, conducts research internationally, launches pilot programs and trains professionals. Michael has been called "the people's philosopher" for his ability to bring together people's ordinary lives and scientific ideas.

 He has pioneered efforts to bring neuro-biology and brain research into homes, schools, corporations, and public policy. A number of his books have sparked national debate, including The Wonder of Girls, The Wonder of Boys, and Boys and Girls Learn Differently!, and The Minds of Boys.

Michael has served as a consultant to families, corporations, therapists, physicians, school districts, community agencies, churches, criminal justice personnel and other professionals, traveling to approximately 20 cities per year to keynote at conferences. His training videos (also available as DVDs) for parents and volunteers are used by Big Brother and Big Sister agencies in the U.S. and Canada.

 As an educator, Michael previously taught at Gonzaga University, Eastern Washington University, and Ankara University.  His speaking engagements include Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, Stanford University, Macalester College, University of Colorado, University of Missouri-Kansas City, and UCLA. His philosophy reflects the diverse cultures (European, Asian, Middle Eastern and American) in which he has lived, worked and studied.

Michael's work has been featured in various media, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, USA Today, Newsweek, Time, People Magazine, Reader's Digest, the Wall Street Journal, Forbes Magazine, Parenting, Good Housekeeping, Redbook, and on the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, PBS and National Public Radio.

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