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Coping with Sibling Conflict


Sibling conflict is inevitable and normal. It's been around for a long time, just look in Genesis, and today's child development experts haven't eradicated the problem. So, with the bad news out of the way, take heart! The Web offers many practical strategies to minimize the conditions that foster sibling rivalry. You can also learn some new skills for dealing with it when it arises.

Why Siblings Fight

They are tired, hungry, or bored.
They are trying to get your attention.
They are angry because their personal property or space has been violated.
They have poor social skills and fighting is the only way they know to engage the other or solve problems.
They have developed roles of aggressor and victim resulting in a destructive cycle that is played out over and over again.
Either or both feel resentment or annoyance over perceived special treatment or favoritism shown toward the other.
One or both children may have temperament characteristics that classify them as difficult children - negativity, poor adaptibility, intensity of emotions.

What You Can Do When. ..

They Are Tired, Hungry, or Bored

Ignore them or separate them until you can attend to their basic needs. A great idea from Elaine Gibsonis this. Stop the action by making them sit down in a not-to-comfortable place or go to separate rooms. Tell them they cannot get up or come out of the room until each sibling gives the other permission. Tell them that you will not be involved and will not listen to anything they have to say. They have to negotiate in order to get permission from each other to get up or come out of their rooms. Then, as soon as possible, feed them, get the quiet time or bedtime routine started, or help them come up with something fun and distracting to do.

They Are Trying to Get Your Attention

Lesia Oesterreich recommends that you take about 30 seconds to stop, look, and listen to what the children are fighting about. Take the next 30 seconds to think about how you want to respond to the situation. Ignore mild squabbles. Do not jump in to protect them or negotiate a truce. Do not reinforce this strategy for getting your attention by intervening. You may want to separate them or use Elaine Gibson's technique described above if they are in danger of escalating to a physical fight or being cruel and emotionally abusive to each other. Otherwise, remove your attention during a squabble, go to another room, do not look at them or speak to them. When they attempt to get along, then give them the attention that they are asking for. Praise your children when you see them getting along.

More Ideas:

Next > They Are Angry Over Invasions to Their Personal Property or Space

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