Do you feel like you are constantly having to break up arguments over the silliest things? Are you constantly trying to balance who gets what toy, or who gets to pick the next movie to avoid another fight? Summer is here which means more time at home and more time for siblings to be around each other. As though sibling rivalry weren’t already tough, add in unstructured time and get ready for the flood gates to open.
- Give your kids tasks and roles that they can do to work together every day. By engaging them in an activity they have to do together, they learn ways to problem solve but still have fun. Allow them to take turns choosing an activity so they feel heard. Some examples include:
- Create a new game to play as a family
- Suggest they build a lemonade stand together
- Get them to bake cookies together
- Acknowledge the feelings that are involved. Often times when siblings fight, they want to know that YOU, their parent, understand their woes. By simply acknowledging that they are really upset with their sibling you can do a lot of damage control. For instance, you may say things like, “I know it can be upsetting to have an older sister.”
- Describe the conflict. DO NOT take sides. The last thing you want to do in a sibling fight is to take sides. If you describe they are arguing about from both perspectives, then you can pose that they come up with some solutions together. This will not only allow them all to feel heard but will also promote teamwork.
- Build in daily breaks. Everyone needs some down time, so why not build this into the schedule and educate your kids on the importance of taking breaks. Also, model these breaks and talk about them as you are getting ready to take them. Two 15-minute breaks each day to get some solitude will go a long way.
- Encourage gratitude. Often siblings quickly lose sight of what they like about their brother(s) / sister(s) when they are fighting. By encouraging them express their gratefulness every day, they can be easily reminded of all the amazing things about their siblings. One way to encourage this is to put up a poster board of gratitude in a common room, like the kitchen. Everyone can leave a note when they find they are grateful for something, no matter how small.
Remember summer is fun! Tame those squabbles and enjoy the sunshine! If your family’s sibling rivalry is spinning out of control, contact us for more support and tips on handling the conflict.
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