Impress the Parents – Fight a Sibling

Impress the Parents – Fight a SiblingScreaming kids got you down? Does every situation among your not-of-legal-agesters end up in a fight?

Perhaps you’ve recently found yourself having one of those June Cleaver moments where you look into the mirror and say, “If only they could get along, everything would be just swell.” OK, OK, that reference is a bit of a throwback, but I just had to do it! Check out the Google Images of June for some real fun!

Now, back to the brawling already in progress…

If you’re looking for solutions to stop sibling rivalry and fighting, or would just like your children to be nicer to one another, consider your role in the equation.

I know many parents suspect that they have something to do with all the fighting, but they simply can’t figure out what that something is. Well, here it is – your kids are often fighting FOR YOU. Hard to believe, but true nonetheless. As parents, we have a lot to do with the fighting that goes on between our kids.

Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look at a few scenarios with insights. Tell me if these sound familiar or make sense to you:

If you leave the room when the kids are fighting, do they follow you?

  • If the kids were really involved in the fight, they wouldn’t care where you are in the house. The fact that they follow you around proves that they are looking for an audience. Without one, what’s the point of the fight?

Do the kids tell on each other when the fight has ended?

  • That means only one thing – the kids want you involved. Have you ever noticed that the minute you start asking about the details, the fight seems to start again, and now YOU are upset and yelling?

Do the kids demand that you punish one or the other for causing the fight?

  • Kids want to draw you into their fighting and have you pick your favorite. Of course, they have to relay the whole fight back to you so that you get all the details and make the right call. Now you’re really involved – those clever kids!

Do the kids yell loudly enough for you to hear?

  • Kids are yelling for you, making sure you can hear every word they say. After all, they want to make sure you know who the “bad” child is so you can punish him properly.

If you offered them ice cream, would they stop the fighting?

  • Let’s face it. In such cases, the kids are not REALLY fighting. And, whatever it was that got them going, it certainly wasn’t worth losing ice cream over. They may be bored, and are most certainly trying to engage you, but they’re not really fighting.

Still not sure whether any of this is pertains to what’s happening in your household? Take the next few days and ask yourself the questions listed above as your children are fighting. The answers you discover will provide you with valuable information about where to start to help your children decide to stop fighting.

As parents, we do the best we can with the information we have. The simple fact is, at times, we need new information to keep up with a constantly changing playing field. If your children are fighting, this may be the perfect time to get that new perspective for yourself and your family.

The Parenting On Track™ Home Program gives you a chance to look at challenging situations like sibling rivalry in a new way. Then, we encourage and support you as you develop the most logical, common-sense strategies for YOUR family. Let’s face it, no two families are alike, so no two strategies will work for every family.

Here’s an example of a few strategies that may fit your unique family dynamic. They’re all focused on empowering your children to interact differently with each other:

  • Whenever possible – ignore the fighting.
  • Find other ways to acknowledge your kids that have nothing to do with their fighting.
  • Switch your focus. Comment – don’t praise – when they are doing something positive.

These, and many other Parenting On Track strategies, can help you to eliminate the fighting in your house. It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen. Just understanding that the fighting is not necessarily about them, it’s about you, is a great first step towards household harmony!

4 thoughts on “Impress the Parents – Fight a Sibling

  1. Hi Vicki,

    I am enjoying your website and articles. Your point of view in this article, “Impress the Parent – Fight a Sibling” is refreshing. I think most parents would answer “Yes” to your subtitle questions.

    Your strategy solutions caught my eye. I have a question. Why do you suggest # 3? The “Comment – don’t praise” is the part I’m wondering about. I’m sure you have a good reason not to praise kids when they are doing something positive. What is it? I’m open and curious.

    With warm wishes,


  2. Hi Jean,

    Thanks for your comment.

    Here is the example I use in class to illustrate the difference between Praise and Encouragement

    – If your child comes home with an A on a report card, praise sounds like this

    – I am so proud of you
    – You are so smart
    – Let’s call Nana and Pop and tell them all about it
    – Maybe we should talk to the teacher about putting you in a more difficult class
    – You are so smart

    If that same child comes home with a D – praise sounds like – Nothing.

    With Encouragement, whether the child comes home with an A or a D, the parent can say

    – Tell me about the grade?
    – What did you learn about yourself?
    – What would you do differently if anything?
    – What was easy about this?
    – What was difficult about this?
    – What can I do to support you

    In a nutshell – Praise is about depending on external feedback, and Encouragement is about developing and trusting your own internal feedback.

    In the Parenting On Track program, we teach parents to replace Praise with Encouragement, which is harder then it sounds. Not only is Encouragement more rewarding for both parents and kids, but it teaches children to look inside first, to self assess, to trust themselves, to self correct, to take responsibility, to soar….and that is what I think most parents are trying to do when they praise.

    I could say so much more about this topic, but I will leave it at that.

    By the looks of your site, you are probably very familiar with the power of Encouragement, but thanks for asking.

  3. My kids (3 and 16month old daughters) fight with each other a little but they REALLY fight for my attention overtly. They try to push each other off my lap; say “I don’t want to share Mommy”(or in the case of the 16 moth old “nah nah nah!”) and request hugs to the point that I can not get anything else done. They both would love to be carried around 24/7. Which is physically impossible (and probably developmentally inappropriate) as they grow. I am grateful for such loving kids and am working to set aside guilt that my job as breadwinner for our family involves long and often 24-hour shifts at work. They DO get a lot of attention despite my awful work hours, we have a large and loving family and almost 100% of my time not at work is spent with them. They each have a little time alone with me (little one wakes early and big sister has time after she goes to bed) I am torn between deciding whether they need more of me than I can give them or whether they have hit upon a great way to manipulate mom. My work hours are unlikely to change as they grow up. Do you think it’s ever right to hedge when a child asks for a hug? I’ve settled on asking them to wait until I’ve finished the task at hand (draining pasta, folding laundry, paying bills……). They are sweet and thoughtful girls. They actually play very well together when I am not home.

  4. Hi,

    Great questions. Here’s the truth. If kids fight over who “get’s you” then it’s a ploy. Also, most kids do not require nearly as much “lovin” as they might lead their parents to believe. I suspect they might be tapping into your sense of “guilt” (it really is okay that you are working and I promise if you set the guilt aside the kids will experience their mom as available, connected, cool, hard working, loving and independent – all good things). They can sense the doubt in you when they start clinging and then they play off of each other.

    Try this. First, get really comfortable with the idea that some really focused time with each child is all they really need AND that you do spend quality time with them when you are around.

    Second – as soon as their is the first sign of “nudging” put both the girls down and walk away. Don’t say a thing about it. Just move. Remember, with kids, actions speak – mouths make noise.

    Third – Continue with this until the girls start to feel you get up and quiet down on their own OR let you go because really, they have had a good dose of you.

    In actuality, kids will come in, get a hug, a kiss, a snuggle, go back to their lives, come back in for a quick connection. This will go on all day. It’s the in-and-out cycle and it’s a healthy one. So that is what you are going for.

    Give it a try and let me know how it goes.


Comments are closed.