Where two or more children are gathered by the same name, there shall be FIGHTING. Sibling rivalry and fighting are just a part of family life. Accept it. Adapt to it. Move on.
However, I do think that we as parents can help make teachable moments from the Wrestle Mania which follows the swiping of a precious toy.
Don’t Take Sides
Never, ever, ever take sides. Explain the arguments from both sides and encourage the children to work it out. If that doesn’t work, send them to separate sides of the house.
Bring Out the Fun
Make the kids hug. Tight. Tighter. Squeeze. Use a silly voices if needed to illicit laughter.
We do this all. the. time. Often, one or both will refuse to hug. In that situation, I give them a choice, “You can hug your brother or go to your room and be alone until you cool down.” My kids HATE to be alone. So, they always choose to hug.
Once the giggles start, they tumble to the ground and whatever started the problem is forgotten.
Also, consider letting the fight… safely. We have a set of Sock Boppers and foam swords. I let the fight with these rules: 1) No fists, feet, or teeth. 2) If someone wants to stop, you stop immediately.
Emphasize Family Unity
When the situation is a little more than a hug can help, I make them… well… hug. But this one is different and I honestly cannot take 100% ownership of this idea because it was inspired by my precious friend Rachel who mentioned this at the 2:1 Conference.
I bring the smallest child in the argument forward, and I tell him (or her), I am going to push you. And, I do. I give the child just enough of a shove to make them take a step or two for balance.
Then, I ask the other child to come and hug the child I shoved. I give that child these instructions: Whatever you do, DO NOT let me shove your brother (or sister) over. Then, I push them both.
What happens? They stand firm.
I tell them:
God placed you in the perfect family. We don’t always have perfect days and sometimes we get on each other’s nerves but we have to remember that we are a family and we will stick together through good days and bad days. Always, always stick together because the two of you are stronger than just one standing alone.
Most of the time, the short lecture on family unity is enough, but when I notice the tensions are still running high, I will pull one child aside and spend some one on one time with him (or her). We will color a picture together and just talk about anything BUT the other kids in the house.
If Bill is home, I might even sneak away with just one of the children. Last time this happened, I took Lira and Ruble to the grocery store to separate them from Franc and Ariary. They were very well-behaved and I asked them to pick out a special snack for the siblings we left at home. Just that simple act of them getting to choose something for their brother and sister gave them such pride that all the hostility melted away.
I was a kid once… long time ago… but I remember the fights I would have with my brother. BIG fights. Fist fights. Now, when my children start their battles (over things that just don’t even matter), I try to remember that my brother and I are TIGHT. I mean, we are not just siblings. We are friends.
Here is hope… God is not finished with your family yet!
How do you deal with sibling fights?
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