This Parenting Tip comes from the National Center for Biblical Parenting. Click on the link to learn more.
Sibling Conflict: A Great Opportunity
“When the bickering gets too bad I just go in my room and shut the door!” one mom said in exasperation. The fact is that many parents believe the solution to arguing and bickering is to allow children to “fight it out.”
That’s one solution parents commonly use when their children start fighting. Other parents separate the children and try to keep them apart in order to maintain peace. They act like a referee at a boxing match, breaking up the conflict and sending the fighters to their opposite corners. Unfortunately, continually separating children doesn’t solve the problem. In fact, the children often come back again to fight some more.
We believe both of these solutions are inadequate because they lack the depth needed to bring about lasting change. When parents only separate the offenders or walk away, they miss valuable opportunities to help their children grow.
Conflict with brothers and sisters is a child’s first class in relationship school. Your home is the classroom, you are the teacher, and honor is the curriculum. Each conflict situation becomes an opportunity for teaching children how to get along.
When two children are fighting, call one out of the room and talk about how to deal with the conflict. Teach children how to confront, ignore, negotiate, compromise, talk about problems, and be peacemakers. Then send the child back into the situation to try again. If necessary, call the second child out and give helpful suggestions before trying again. Whatever you do, don’t try to discipline them together. Kids have an amazing way of deflecting discipline when they are together.
Be listening to your children’s interaction and continue to coach them in relationships. You may call the same child out of an activity five or ten times in an hour to continue to point out the change that needs to take place. Help children know what right actions are appropriate, and as long as they are willing to try to do the right thing, send them back into the situation to try again.
Use sibling conflict to teach about healthy relationships. It takes a lot of work but you’ll be preparing your children to deal with the difficult relationships they’ll encounter for the rest of their lives.
This tip comes from the book Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes in You and Your Kids by Dr Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN