Getting Along: Sibling Fights
Why kids quarrel and what parents can do about it
There are a number of reasons that kids quarrel, fight, and tease. Sometimes they are just bored, tired, or hungry. Other times they are seeking attention, looking for companionship, or trying to develop their own sense of power. Understanding why kids quarrel can help you know what to do.
It never fails. Whenever you are the busiest - shopping, cleaning, or running errands - quarreling and teasing break out. "Mom, he hit me." "She took my book." "He called me dumb!" Sound familiar?
What Parents Can Do
The first thing to ask is what basic needs are not being met here? Kids who are tired, hungry, or bored are not going to feel cheerful and cooperative. A few minutes of rest, a healthy snack, and some interesting things to do can work wonders.
Sometimes kids get into a bad habit of squabbling as a way of getting attention. If this situation seems common in your house, it may be time to "reprogram" your kids so that only good behavior gets rewarded.
What Parents Can Do
Ignore mild quarrels. Ignoring sometimes works, but only if no one is in danger of getting hurt. Remain calm, and avoid speaking or looking at your children. If things do not seem too out of control, you may find it helpful to leave the room or to listen to music with headphones. Ignoring works best when parents also make the effort to give attention for good behavior.
Spend time with each child. Studies shows that 15 to 20 minutes of one-to-one attention with a child per day will significantly reduce whining and aggressive behavior. Reading to your child, playing a game, or simply involving them in everyday routine activities are good ways to give positive attention.
Teach children to ask for attention in a positive way. Use statements like "When you need a hug, let me know"; "I can't always play with you for a long time, but I almost always can take time to read you a book"; "Yelling hurts my ears, try tapping me on the shoulder and asking for help."
Make each child feel uniquely special. It is not necessary or even possible to treat children equally in every way. Each of your children has a unique personality and interests. Encourage those traits and interests. Avoid making comparisons, and try not to set your children up for competition. Saying "Angie loves to draw and paint" is better than saying, "Angie is a better artist than Jason."
Reprinted with the permission of A-better-child.org. © 2006 - 2008, A-Better-Child.org
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