Getting Along: Sibling Fights (page 2)
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."
Some children seem to have a knack for getting brothers and sisters to play with them. Other children seem to have greater difficulty doing this and quickly discover that starting a quarrel with a sibling is a sure way to get them involved.
What Parents Can Do
Teach children words to make play work well. For some children this means something as basic as saying "Would you play with me?" or "May I play with that toy?" or "Can we take turns?" For others it means reminding them to say "please" and "thank you."
Provide activities that children of different ages can do together. Older children get very frustrated with younger siblings because they want to play but have limited skills. Teach older children how to give younger children a simple task to involve them in play. For example, a 4-year-old could pretend to deliver pizza on his tricycle. His 5-year-old sister could make construction paper money and give it to the 3-year-old sister who would pay the delivery person and bring the pretend pizza into the house. A toddler who loves to push over blocks could be given her own set of blocks to stack, sort, and knock down while her older brother and sister build a block castle nearby. Pretend play, play dough, blocks, puppets, and musical activities also are good activities for sibling play.
Teach children how to negotiate or compromise. Learning to trade one toy for another and learning to take turns are a child's first lesson in the art of negotiation. Take the time to show a toddler how to trade for a toy rather than just grab for it. With older children, focus on how to take turns. Sometimes a timer helps. If one child doesn't want to play, teach your other child how to make a deal to play later. Most 4- and 5- year-old children can learn to find something else to do for at least 30 minutes. If children can't agree on what to play, help them learn how to brainstorm ideas until they can come up with something they both agree on.
Reprinted with the permission of A-better-child.org. © 2006 - 2008, A-Better-Child.org
Add your own comment
- Kindergarten Sight Words List
- The Five Warning Signs of Asperger's Syndrome
- First Grade Sight Words List
- Graduation Inspiration: Top 10 Graduation Quotes
- 10 Fun Activities for Children with Autism
- What Makes a School Effective?
- Child Development Theories
- Should Your Child Be Held Back a Grade? Know Your Rights
- Why is Play Important? Social and Emotional Development, Physical Development, Creative Development
- Smart Parenting During and After Divorce: Introducing Your Child to Your New Partner