Fighting and arguing can be a very irritating behavior to deal with. First and foremost, staying calm is the key for you to effectively deal with this behavior. Before addressing this problem with the boys, it may be a good idea for you to develop your own "Staying Calm Plan". On a piece of paper write, "when my boys fight" and "I start to feel like yelling", "instead of yelling I will ________________________________________."
Since you know this fighting is going to happen again we suggest that at a neutral time, when the boys are not fighting, you set them down and address this problem. Let them know this behavior is unacceptable and you want them to learn how to handle their disagreements in a different way.
Using three simple steps, teach them what to do instead of fighting. Think of how you want it to sound and what you want to see them do the next time they have a conflict. You may want them to just say a "key word" like "break" or "time-out" and then turn and walk away from each other. They can come and get help from you or just stay away from each other for a certain amount of time. The three simple steps are;
1. Describe the positive behavior.
Use words they understand.
"Boys, the next time you have a problem and feel like fighting with each other I want you to just look at each other, no touching, and say "time out". Then turn around and you go to the kitchen and you go to the family room or to your own room."
2. Give a reason.
Make it personal to the child.
Let them know how it will help them to do it this way.
" If you guys can handle problems this way you won't get into trouble as much, you will be better friends and can play more since you are not in time-out. Plus, Mommy won't have to get so upset and holler at you." That would make our house happier."
Knowing what to do and knowing how to do it are two different things.
Have them actually do what you have described.
"Okay, now we are going to try this. Let's pretend that you were playing with your toys and your little brother came in and messed them all up. You felt like pushing him and hollering and you felt like biting him when he pushed you. But this time you are going to do our "new plan". You will both say "time-out", then you go to the kitchen and you can go to your room or to the family room. Any questions? Actually have them do this!
Keep practice brief and make it fun. Have them practice sporadically throughout the day. Praise them for practicing the "new plan" like you described it. Catch them being good and praise them for getting along and handling conflicts using the "new plan".
These three steps demonstrated above can be used to teach many skills to your boys. Remember to use your Staying Calm Plan before you start to teach.
doaaw - the member who asked this question - selected this as the best answer posted by another Education.com member.
from a fellow member
If shouting isn't getting their attention, try being quiet!!!. Sit them down make them look you in the eyes and very quietly yet forcefully tell them what you need them to here. I shouted at my kids for years to no avail. My kids are now 20 and 28. One day a friend of mine in the physc field told me to try this technique. The kids had learned to tune me out when I was yelling because it came with no consequences but anger and frustration on my part. But one day I stopped yelling and made them sit and listen while I quietly explained the problem of their actions and the consequences if they continued. I made them look at me a repeat what I had said to them so I was sure they understood. Then when they continued the discipline was forth coming. No one was as surprised as I was when I followed through with the discipline and they found that there really were consequences. I continued to use this tactic and now my kids still say "If mom's yelling its all good. But when mom gets quiet look out." They have children of there own now and I here my grandson tell his friends "as long as shes yelling at us were OK. If she gets real quiet its time to listen."