Q&A: Sibling Fights

sibling rivalryQuestion:

Thank you for your books. After reading Duct Tape Parenting, the only thing I am still struggling with is allowing them to work out their arguments because my little one is still quite young (2 in July) so I worry about her being bullied or hurt, but I have let go quite a bit compared to before.


In terms of the fighting, they are young and they do not have the skills to respectfully work things out.  Put your effort into helping them learn how to negotiate life with a sibling.  Here are a few quick and easy steps.

1.  Acknowledge when someone is mad or hurt or angry or doesn’t want to share.  This immediately quiets and centers kids and lets them know they are heard and their feelings validated.  It also reestablished a connection with us.
2.  Take a big deep breath while you look at one or both of them and ask them to do the same.  Doesn’t matter if they do it, you are creating a habit.  This will help you keep a calm voice and attitude and will teach them that they can move pass a tense moment using their own body for help.
3.  Ask them if they have any ideas for how to solve the problem.  There is no need to point out that hitting, biting, yelling or calling someone stupid won’t work.  Focus on finding a solution even if the solution is to climb up in your lap for a bit of love.

Make sure kids know that it is find if they chose to take some time alone.  Often times we just need a break to regroup before we are ready to come back and begin playing with a sibling.

Remember, it doesn’t matter if they understand.  What you are doing is modeling for them that you understand, to take a breath and then to find a solution.  You don’t have to talk about being nice, or kind or not hitting, just help them learn these 3 steps and it will go a long way in helping them deal with all the times they experience a negative emotion, and there will be plenty.

Before long they will be able to say to you – I am mad because [insert whatever it is.] I am going to take a deep breath and then pick up my dolls and go play in my bedroom.  I promise with practice, it really does happen this way.