Siblings can be a wonderful addition to any child's life. When a good relationship is created between siblings, the rewards are extraordinary. Siblings can be there for each other in many ways that parents cannot. They can be playmates, share secrets, help each other learn important social skills, and be lifelong friends.
Even when siblings are best of friends, fighting and disagreements can happen. This is natural. In the process of growing up, children must learn how to build relationships. Parents play an important role in guiding their children to build these healthy relationships. The key lies in teaching children to express their anger safely and appropriately. It also has to do with encouraging cooperation between siblings rather than competition, and valuing each child's uniqueness.
Why Do Kids Fight?
Siblings fight about many things. Don't feel that you are a bad parent if your children fight. Instead, see their fights as learning opportunities for them. Knowing the "why" behind children's fighting will help you to better understand certain situations and perhaps even avoid some of their bickering. Siblings might fight over possessions, individual space, or just out of plain boredom. Following are other reasons siblings squabble.
- Basic Needs. Make sure your children's basic needs are being met. Children who are tired or hungry can get cranky and are much more likely to start fights.
- Attention. If children feel ignored, they may fight so that parents will notice them. It is hard for children to share their parents with their siblings. Children need to feel a sense of belonging in the family unit. If a desire for attention seems to be the cause for fights, parents need to make an extra effort to reward good behavior as well as to spend more individual time with each child.
- Lack Of Experience. Children lack social competence. For example, a child might pick a fight to get his sibling to play with him. Parents need to teach children to find more appropriate ways of voicing their needs. Parents can teach children to put their feelings into words and find safe ways to express their anger.
Reprinted with the permission of the University of Florida. © 2008 University of Florida.
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