How Do I Stop My Kids’ Fighting?

By Laurie Winslow Sargent:

One frustrated mom asked, “How I stop my kids’ fighting? It’s driving me crazy!”

Photo by Stuart Miles:

Ooooh, been there, done that, felt that. I know, it can be enormously frustrating. I think what  made me craziest was the noise level–just having to listen to it.

Even handling it perfectly (and how would that be?) won’t make it go away entirely. Kids are learning how to relate to each other and will practice with their siblings.

As we enter this discussion on sibling squabbles, ask yourself this:  “What am I most reacting to?” Is the answer:

#1 The noise?

#2 The issues at hand, which you feel you must intervene in (and should you–really–or must they work it out themselves?)

#3 The need to protect one child from another, physically or from wounding words?

Kids pick at each other for all kinds of reasons and many do require adult intervention (AKA refereeing). But for this first post on kids’ fighting, let’s examine your own attitude as a parent, as I was forced to examine mine.

Is it possible that your interventions in kids’ fighting sometimes make things worse?  Consider your:

(CLICK to cont. for 6 Ways parent attitudes can affect kids’ fighting…)

  • PROPORTION OF BLAME: Listen to yourself. If most of the time one child gets the blame for starting fights (even if it seems that child is indeed the culprit), your constantly defending the other child will only make things worse. The more the accused child feels you are favoring the other, the more retaliation that will happen. And it won’t always happen within your view or hearing. Consider the percent of time you are chastising one and not the other.
  • YOUR DECIBEL LEVEL: When kids argue constantly, it is tempting to raise your voice as well. How many of your current conversations with one or more children start with “Stop that!” and an annoying scowl? Yelling makes it even worse. Is that the side of you your child is seeing too much of?
  • YOUR PERCEPTIONS: Just because one child screams, tattles, or cries louder than the other doesn’t mean that child isn’t equally at fault, or even the one who started a fight. It’s easy to unintentionally show favoritism to the child who is loudest and most dramatic.
  • COMPARISONS: Comparisons between kids breeds resentment. Again, listen to the words that come out of your mouth. “Why can’t you be quieter, like your sister?” Ouch. (And he may be thinking, I know how to make her louder…!)
  • GENERALIZATIONS: Avoid generalizations. He always . . . she never. . . An offended child may not tell you, but instead take it out on the sibling perceived to be the favorite, or simply act in the way you expect him to. (Maybe it’s time to dwell on some of your child’s positive traits? Delight in Your Child’s Design may help!)
  • OVER-FOCUSING: When a new baby is born, you will be busy, busy, busy and forget that child #1 was used to having exclusive attention. Compound child #1 with having less time with you with being criticized for being too rough with the baby, too loud so baby can’t sleep, too (you fill in the blanks),  builds resentment in child #1 toward child #2.  You do need to protect the baby. But watch your tone, don’t overreact, and make sure your protective comments about the baby are balanced by loving comments toward your first child.

Next up at here Parenting by Faith: practical strategies for breaking up fights between kids, and how to nurture loving relationships between siblings.

Can you relate? What are your thoughts on this? I'd love for you to COMMENT.

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