A Campaign for Family Harmony: 3 Steps to End Sibling Squabbles
Hurtful attacks, name-calling, downright nastiness—why are the kids starting to sound like politicians? Election time may mean endless political arguing and attack ads invading our homes. But that doesn’t mean kids should be taking cues from the candidates. How do we prevent sibling squabbles when there’s so much discord around them?
Fortunately, no multi-million dollar campaign is needed to win this battle. By simply changing a few of our parenting techniques, we can help end sibling squabbles.
- Lobby to Lose the Labels. There’s nothing that heats up competition among kids like name-calling by adults. It may be as innocent as “my book worm” or “the goof-off.” Even positive labels set up unhealthy comparisons. After all, what if your “athletic one” would like to cross party lines and take up the tuba, but is intimidated by the “musical one” in the family? The sibling squabbles that labels can foster often last a lifetime. So now’s the time to nix the labels.
- Don’t Moderate the Debate. What’s the best way to cut back on the sibling squabbles in your home? Ignore them. Let your kids know that they’re big enough to solve their problems together, and that you’ll no longer be stepping in. Then, next time you hear bickering over whose turn it is to brush and style Barbie’s hair, subtly leave the room. Staying out of the action (unless someone is getting hurt) eliminates the reward of extra attention your kids get from fighting, plus you’re creating a valuable opportunity for them to create a joint resolution.
- Remain Strictly Bi-Partisan. If hair is getting pulled and Legos are getting thrown, it may be time for you to intervene in the sibling squabbles. But don’t play judge and jury. Taking sides in the argument, and labeling a “victim” and an “aggressor,” can not only set up harmful labels for life. It also sends the message that the kids aren’t able to resolve conflict on their own. If your kids try to set up a supreme court in your home, veto it, and instead work towards a mutual agreement.
Making these simple adjustments to your parenting style is a vote for a happier household. Not only will you have satisfied siblings, but you will have also taught your children valuable problem solving tools that will serve them throughout their entire lives—wherever their campaigns may take them.
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