Top Ten Ways to Keep Your Kids from Fighting
By Mark Brandenburg
Fighting among siblings is as natural as the
changing of the seasons. And contrary to what many parents believe,
sibling rivalry is a sign of mental health in a family. While there
may be times when it's difficult to deal with, there are some
simple things you can do to limit fighting and make it tolerable:
1. Ignore their fighting
Fighting is often a way for kids to get you to
notice them. If you ignore their fighting (unless weapons are
involved) there will be less incentive for them to do it.
2. Treat your kids the same when it comes to
If you get into who started things, you may be
training your kids to be victims and bullies. Put them in the same
boat and don't take sides.
3. Give your kids positive reinforcement when they
Let them know that they're doing a wonderful job
when they get along. This one's easy to forget, but vitally
important. Give them attention when they're behaving the way you
want. Continually telling them to stop may actually be creating more
4. Limit your own fighting and arguing.
Your kids will learn how to be peaceful from you.
Don't expect them to do it well if you don't show them how.
5. Create an environment of cooperation.
Do projects together as a family that involve
cooperation. Talk about how important it is for the family to
cooperate. Avoid games or activities that promote fighting or
excessive competition in your kids.
6. Train your kids in peacemaking when they're away
Talk to your kids about fighting at a time when
they're relaxed and open. Ask them about what other options they
might have taken rather than to hit their sister. Help them to
brainstorm better solutions.
7. Avoid punishing your kids in general.
Punishing kids usually just creates angry kids who
are more likely to fight. While some punishment may be inevitable,
do your best to give choices and alternatives. Punishment may bring
short term solutions but will also bring long term problems.
8. Control how you react to their fighting.
When you must intervene, make sure you stay calm. If
you're angry and shaming, you actually make it more likely that
fighting will occur again.
9. Limit the number of fighting opportunities you
give your kids.
Think about what has the potential to start fights.
Don't buy a red ball and a blue ball, this may easily result in a
fight by your kids. Buy two red balls--no fight. Be familiar with
the times in which fighting occurs the most—when they're hungry
or tired. Take precautions, like having dinner ready before the
"bewitching hour" occurs.
10. Love your kids for all they're worth
Every day tell them you love them and more
importantly, show them. Kids who feel emotionally connected to their
parents are the least likely to fight. This won't eliminate it, but
the alternative isn't pretty at all.
Mark Brandenburg MA, CPCC, coaches parents and those in
relationship. He is the author of "25 Secrets of Emotionally
Intelligent Fathers" http://www.markbrandenburg.com/father.htm
Sign up for his FREE bi-weekly newsletter, "Dads, Don't Fix
Your Kids," at http://www.markbrandenburg.com.