The alarm goes off and the sun is getting ready to rise. I wake up three children; each has their own individual routine for getting ready in the morning.
They have been awake for less than 20 minutes when I hear “Mom, blah blah took the cup I wanted to use.”
Then, “NO!! I had it first.”
There it is. The day has officially begun.
It can be a frustrating daily event with siblings fighting. It seems like I could be putting out fires all day long. There are days when I think, ” Do you guys even love each other?” Of course, they do. They are just learning to handle their emotions, express their thoughts, and persuading others to do what they want.
As frustrating as it can be, the truth is that it’s normal and necessary. Conflict happens in all relationships and siblings are no different. There is an upside to the fighting, they are learning important skills. When conflict happens, children are given the opportunity to learn conflict resolution skills. Conflict resolution skills are social skills that they will use in their future relationships with friends and coworkers to solve problems and compromise.
When the kids start fighting the first thing I ask myself ” Is this a problem they can solve on their own?” If yes, (which 90% of the time it is) then I allow them to work it out, as long as it does not get physical. We start by giving our children the tools and skills of sharing, taking turns and playing peacefully. In my opinion, it is important that we empower our children and give them the opportunity to solve their own problems. If I solve all of their fights then they learn nothing about resolving their own conflicts or preventing conflicts from happening in the first place.
Here are just a few reasons why some siblings fight and some ideas to help:
They are seeking attention. A child who wants attention, either from you or from their sibling, goes about it in different ways, fighting is one way. I like to give each child their own time with me. Sometimes they just need your attention without everyone else. So, plan an activity that you can do with each one of them.
They are learning the difference of equality and fairness. They don’t think it fair that the oldest one stays up later or why the birthday girl is the only one that gets presents. I like to make this a conversation where I encourage them to express their feelings, explain my logic, point out the important points. They may still contest that “it’s not fair” but they are still learning to understand equality and fairness. As they get older their developed ideas of fairness change.
Although the fighting can drive you crazy and may seem there is no end in sight, it is an important and healthy part of their development. We have given them the tools to handle conflict and disagreement and now they are working on developing those tools.
Raising siblings can be stressful but not impossible.
Here is a great resource I have found that has a few other strategies that can help with siblings fighting.
~Ms. Sarah W.
Professional Development Coordinator