All posts in Behavior & Discipline

Stop the Fighting

Stop the Fighting“The other day, my oldest child was building this wonderful tower with wooden blocks. It had symmetry and interesting little nooks and crannies. Then my youngest child walked by and knocked it over with a single blow. A boo-boo lip and tears followed…” Sound familiar?

If you have more than one child, you have dealt with sibling rivalry. Some of us may have more experience with it than others, but all of us have (or will have) the unpleasant experience of listening to children argue, whine, cry… you know where I’m going with this!

The most common question we hear among parents is, ”Why do my children fight?”
It could be as simple as this:

Your child…

  • Is hungry, tired or bored
  • Is trying to define his- or herself as an individual within the family
  • Wants an equal amount of attention from you (and fighting sure does get your attention!)
  • Is trying to show power
  • Doesn’t understand that “peace” is a family value
  • Is feeling stress, OR, what is more likely, is reacting to YOUR level of stress.

While it may be important to have a handle on why your children are arguing, what you DO about the fighting is MORE important.

“My middle child is always looking for attention. The other day she walked right over to my oldest child while he was playing a video game and unplugged it! Of course he started to yell at her, she started crying, and then…”

When the children are fighting—as long as no one is getting hurt—do your best to stay out of the fight. Let them work it out. It might seem hard to “do nothing,” but intervening will only cause the fight to escalate, and you may end up entering the conflict as a yelling, lecturing participant.

Change comes about by implementing proactive strategies that focus on what we WANT, not on what we don’t want.

These include:

  • Using your Road Map to identify where you are and where you want to go, i.e. from yelling, screaming, and fighting to peace and quiet.
  • Creating a plan on how you as a family will get there, which might include:
  • Paying attention to the time of day the arguing occurs and taking care of your children’s basic needs first.
    • Giving each child unique time and attention (not just equal time).
    • Teaching and modeling positive ways to interact; for toddlers, this means trading toys instead of grabbing, and for older kids, this means expressing how they feel without judging the other person.
    • Making sure each of your children have their own time and space.
    • Really LISTENING to your children when they talk to you and to each other.
  • Discussing family values and creating your mission statement as a way to refocus energy from fighting to cooperation.
  • Noticing progress and improvement, and acknowledging this at your next family meeting.

Using these techniques can help you create an atmosphere of compromise, respect, and cooperation in your family.

“When my children were in high school they fought horribly, and they couldn’t have been more different. My oldest was top of her class in sports, grades, and honors, while my middle and youngest couldn’t get into enough trouble! Today, my oldest is a lawyer, my middle is a teacher, and my youngest owns his own business. They are all successes, and more importantly, they are close. What more could a parent ask for?

Conflict is a normal part of life, and any solution you try will take time. Be patient! Not only can these steps help you get through the day, they are an investment in your family’s future.

Impress the Parents – Fight a Sibling

Impress the Parents – Fight a SiblingScreaming kids got you down? Does every situation among your not-of-legal-agesters end up in a fight?

Perhaps you’ve recently found yourself having one of those June Cleaver moments where you look into the mirror and say, “If only they could get along, everything would be just swell.” OK, OK, that reference is a bit of a throwback, but I just had to do it! Check out the Google Images of June for some real fun!

Now, back to the brawling already in progress…

If you’re looking for solutions to stop sibling rivalry and fighting, or would just like your children to be nicer to one another, consider your role in the equation.

I know many parents suspect that they have something to do with all the fighting, but they simply can’t figure out what that something is. Well, here it is – your kids are often fighting FOR YOU. Hard to believe, but true nonetheless. As parents, we have a lot to do with the fighting that goes on between our kids.

Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look at a few scenarios with insights. Tell me if these sound familiar or make sense to you:

If you leave the room when the kids are fighting, do they follow you?

  • If the kids were really involved in the fight, they wouldn’t care where you are in the house. The fact that they follow you around proves that they are looking for an audience. Without one, what’s the point of the fight?

Do the kids tell on each other when the fight has ended?

  • That means only one thing – the kids want you involved. Have you ever noticed that the minute you start asking about the details, the fight seems to start again, and now YOU are upset and yelling?

Do the kids demand that you punish one or the other for causing the fight?

  • Kids want to draw you into their fighting and have you pick your favorite. Of course, they have to relay the whole fight back to you so that you get all the details and make the right call. Now you’re really involved – those clever kids!

Do the kids yell loudly enough for you to hear?

  • Kids are yelling for you, making sure you can hear every word they say. After all, they want to make sure you know who the “bad” child is so you can punish him properly.

If you offered them ice cream, would they stop the fighting?

  • Let’s face it. In such cases, the kids are not REALLY fighting. And, whatever it was that got them going, it certainly wasn’t worth losing ice cream over. They may be bored, and are most certainly trying to engage you, but they’re not really fighting.

Still not sure whether any of this is pertains to what’s happening in your household? Take the next few days and ask yourself the questions listed above as your children are fighting. The answers you discover will provide you with valuable information about where to start to help your children decide to stop fighting.

As parents, we do the best we can with the information we have. The simple fact is, at times, we need new information to keep up with a constantly changing playing field. If your children are fighting, this may be the perfect time to get that new perspective for yourself and your family.

The Parenting On Track™ Home Program gives you a chance to look at challenging situations like sibling rivalry in a new way. Then, we encourage and support you as you develop the most logical, common-sense strategies for YOUR family. Let’s face it, no two families are alike, so no two strategies will work for every family.

Here’s an example of a few strategies that may fit your unique family dynamic. They’re all focused on empowering your children to interact differently with each other:

  • Whenever possible – ignore the fighting.
  • Find other ways to acknowledge your kids that have nothing to do with their fighting.
  • Switch your focus. Comment – don’t praise – when they are doing something positive.

These, and many other Parenting On Track strategies, can help you to eliminate the fighting in your house. It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen. Just understanding that the fighting is not necessarily about them, it’s about you, is a great first step towards household harmony!