If you have more than one child in your house, odds are your
children are best friends one minute and arguing with each other 87
Siblings argue for many different reasons, depending on their
personality and age. When children are young, they often argue over
toys and their parent's attention. As they turn into teenagers, the
arguments are often over sharing things like the family car,
telephones and computers. Teens also become jealous of their
siblings over accomplishments, such as academics, sports or
"When children are given the opportunity to work out problems
with their siblings, they learn life-long negotiation skills and
how to get along with others, which requires consideration,
compromise and reconciliation," says Susan Tordella, founder of
www.raisingable.com. No magic cure can make your children stop
arguing with each other, but here are some ways you can reduce
sibling rivalry in your house:
- Be a coach, not a referee. When possible,
encourage your children to work out the problem themselves.
Tordella recommends parents tell their kids, "I know you can come
up with a solution" and walk away. "It's amazing how conflicts
dissipate when there's no audience," says Tordella. It also teaches
them problem-resolution skills. The exception is when there is a
physical argument or if one child is being consistently picked on
by the other one.
- Separate your kids. The best way to ensure
your children want to be near each other is to suggest that they
stay away from each other. If your kids are having a tough time
getting along, help them become engaged in separate activities. You
may have to find activities for each one that the other one is not
interested in or send one child to a friend's house to play.
- Talk about respect. If your preschooler grabs
his sister's book out of her hands or your teen bad-mouths her
brother to her friends, they are not respecting their sibling. Make
respect a family value and talk about how you should respect
yourself, other people, animals and your belongings.
- Put the toy in timeout. When your child cannot
figure out a way to share a toy or other item, such as a video game
or computer, remove the item and neither child can use it. "If they
can't agree on what TV program to watch, turn off the TV. If they
fight over which car they get to use on Friday night, don't let
them use either car," says Tordella. "This takes parents out of the
role of judge/jury/executioner and taking sides."