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5 Ways to Squash Sibling Squabbles

Tired of the constant bickering and fighting amongst your children? Mighty Mommy has 5 ways to squash those sibling squabbles.

By
Cheryl Butler
5-minute read
Episode #209

Tip #3: Pick Your Battles Wisely

For small incidents, such as not sharing toys, teach children to handle it themselves. Simply state what you expect and the consequences if your rules aren’t followed. Say, "I'll be back in one minute. If you kids haven't learned how to share the toy or work it out, the toy goes up in the attic until you can learn to get along."

You can either time-out the toy or time-out the kids. That way, you're giving them two messages:

1. That you expect them to be able to work out things out by themselves

and

2. That there will be consequences if they don't.

Children really do expect parental guidance and boundaries. It’s our job to consistently enforce what’s appropriate in our homes.

When bigger problems occur, such as one child hitting or verbally abusing the other, they require adult intervention. In such cases, if you stay out of the picture, the child that is being victimized will think you’re siding with the bully. Keep it simple and explain that each time there is a situation where someone is physically or verbally confronted, there will be a no-tolerance policy and the child that started the behavior will be removed from the situation immediately and will have to help with an unpleasant task like sweeping the kitchen floor or cleaning the bathroom, or be put in their room alone (without electronics).

See also: 8 Strategies for Dealing With a Defiant Child

Of course, you’re probably going to hear them shout, “But that’s not fair, she started it!” Keep your cool and remind them of the “Golden Rule”—treat others the way you would like to be treated. Then carry through your decision to remove that sibling from the room right away.  When everything calms down, take a few minutes to ask him how he could’ve handled the situation so that he has a roadmap for a more peaceful approach next time. 

Tip #4: Create a “Get Along Jar”

Nothing stops a fight faster in our house than our “Get Along Jar”! We have a Goofy cookie jar in our kitchen that we got on vacation at Disney World several years ago. It doesn’t contain delicious cookies, instead, it holds about 20 index cards with suggestions from my husband and I for ways the kids can show their appreciation towards one another. 

Some of these suggestions are: “I can show my brother how much I love him by doing his chore for 2 weeks.” Or “I will pack my sister’s favorite lunch every day for the rest of the week.” You can be as creative as you want with these suggestions. Once a sibling fight starts, simply remind them that if they don’t work it out, you’ll select an item from the “Get Along Jar” to help them. Watch how quickly the fight gets resolved.

Tip # 5: Praise Them When You See Them Getting Along

How do you keep sibling squabbles to a minimum? Let me know in Comments or post them on the Mighty Mommy Facebook page. You can also connect with me on Twitter @MightyMommy or e-mail me at mommy@quickanddirtytips.com.

Check back next week for more parenting tips. Don’t forget to check out my family-friendly boards at Pinterest.com/MightyMommyQDT. Be consistent when teaching your kids to keep the peace with their siblings and until next time—Happy Parenting!

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About the Author

Cheryl Butler

Cheryl L. Butler is the mother of eight children. Her experiences with infertility, adoption, seven pregnancies, and raising children with developmental delays have helped her become a resource on the joys and challenges of parenting. Call the Mighty Mommy listener line at 401-284-7575 to ask a parenting question. Your call could be featured on the show!