1. Bring up your kids’ role models.
Some of your child’s favorite cartoon and book characters get into conflicts all the time, especially with their brothers and sisters. If your daughters get into a fight, remind them of how Cinderella forgave her stepsisters at the end of the story or of how Harry Potter eventually made peace with his cousin Dudley in the original books. Make sure your children are also exposed to stories about resolving conflicts, forgiveness, and the importance of family.
2. Create a money or job jar.
Similar to a swear jar, if you catch your kids fighting with each other, you could require them each to pay a small “fine” to the jar. If your kids don’t really have money to give, fill a jar with pieces of paper that each have a job that they could do around the house. Either idea could help break the habit of getting into a fight.
3. Get your kids to write a letter.
After your kids get into a fight, tell them to sit down and write down their feelings. This allows kids to have their feelings known and to not feel overlooked, but it also helps diffuse the situation, even helping them realize that they might be fighting over something small. Better yet, if the kids don’t like writing, it makes getting into fights much less tempting.
4. Give your kids “one on one” time.
Doing things special with each of your kids individually might seem like it could make them jealous, but it has certain benefits. As long as kids get equal attention, it teaches kids that they are valued and aren’t just lumped together by their parents... and don’t have to fight to get noticed. It also gives kids healthy distance. Just make sure each kid gets an equal amount of attention.
5. Coach your children to stand up to each other... and for themselves.
When you defend one sibling, it makes the other feel like you are playing favorites, which can make tensions worse. Instead, coach your children into solving problems by themselves or at least expressing their needs to each other.
6. Get them to solve a problem together.
If your kids are fighting, give them something to do with each other, like a puzzle. When they solve it, give them a harder puzzle. This teaches them to help each other and rely on each other for support.
7. Put them outside.
There’s a time and place for everything, so let your kids know that inside the house is not the place for fighting or yelling. It also gives your kids a chance to blow off some steam. Ultimately, it helps them break the habit of fighting.
8. Plan vacations.
Bonding opportunities are important to get your children to get along with each other, especially when it gives them a break from other social support. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate. Just take your kids camping one weekend or take a trip to the zoo.
9. Catch them being good.
Don’t just acknowledge your children when they’re being bad, comment and reward them when you see them getting along with each other. Positive reinforcement is just as important as negative.
10. Give your kids some perspective.
Tell your kids to think things through. Do the Goldilocks solution: ask them if their problems with each other are small, medium, or large. As they think these issues out, they might realize that they are making a mountain out of a molehill. It also helps them think of ways to sort things out.
Bonus: Is it okay for siblings to fight?
Kids have been fighting with their brothers and sisters since the beginning of time, but is it ever a good thing? Marian Edelman Borden, author of The Baffled Parent’s Guide to Sibling Rivalry, thinks that a little fighting is healthy and helps kids in the long run since it teaches them how “compromise and cooperate” when getting into a conflict.
In the end, it is important that kids learn lessons like how to solve their own problems using their words instead of getting into physical fights, expressing themselves and their opinions, and ultimately to value how lucky they are to even have a sibling.
What do you do to stop your children from fighting with each other? Please share your methods with us in the comments!