When Siblings Fight
As Adam and Tyler play together, Tyler grabs the toy out of his brother's
hand. Adam reaches over and punches Tyler in the stomach. Both boys start
screaming for the nearest parent to solve their problem.
Nearly every family experiences arguments and fights among siblings.
While parents may become tired of listening to the endless arguments,
most would agree that they would not trade their children in for peace
and quiet. When parents find themselves in the middle of their children's
spats, it helps to remember the following tips:
Most importantly, remember that there are many benefits to sibling relationships.
Young children learn to consider the wants and needs of others. Siblings
learn to share objects and provide help, comfort and physical affection
towards others. They also learn to communicate even through arguments.
- When possible, allow siblings to settle their own arguments. Children
can often reach the best solution and longest lasting peace if left
to their own devices. This allows children to learn valuable skills
in conflict resolution.
- Make sure that each child receives individual attention. You might
use this time to work on a favorite hobby or homework.
- Give each child possessions and space they can call their own. Doing
this should reduce conflict among children and help children feel important.
- Establish simple and clear family rules. This does not mean you should
outlaw disagreements. It does mean, however, there is a set way to settle
any disagreements that might come up.
- Encourage positive interactions by helping siblings show kindness
and affection to one another. Allow children times to work together
on tasks they enjoy. Ask children to talk about good feelings that result
when a child is helpful to a sibling. Let siblings select holiday and
birthday presents for one another.
- Provide each child with an equal share of sincere compliments. Every
child needs the reassurance they are valued and loved by a parent.
Books for children:
Hoban, Russell. Harvey's Hideout. Parent's Magazine Press. 1969.
Wells, Rosemary. Don't Spill It Again, James. The Dial Press.
Vandell, Deborah Lowe. "Baby Sister/Baby Brother: Reactions to
the Birth of a Sibling and Patterns of Early Sibling Relations,"
Journal of Children in Contemporary Society.
"Once Upon A Mind Quarterly" newsletter. Spring 1983. Manhattan:
Cooperative Extension Service, Kansas Sate University.
Taylor, Judy. "Fostering Positive Relationships Among Siblings."
Urbana: Cooperative Extension Service, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Prepared by Lisa McMurtry, Extension
Educator, Family Life.