Kids fight. It's as simple as that. But, as a mom, living with tweens and teens who are doing battle can feel like living in a war zone, says Circle of Moms member Terry S. "My kids fight over everything." Even a look can start an argument, she reports.
There are things parents and providers can do to help minimize or keep kids from fighting at all. Here, Circle of Moms members share 6 tips for restoring calm to your home.
1. Know when to intervene — and when not to
Parents have the difficult task of deciding when to let a sibling battle run its course and when to intervene. "My girls argue all the time and I think it's pretty normal," says Christy D. "I get everything from 'she touched me' to 'make her leave the room, she's bugging me. (And that one's bad because they share a room!) I've learned not to get between them when they are arguing. I let them settle it themselves. It is a learning experience for them, and will help them in the future to deal with other conflicts that they may have." (Related Reading: How Sibling Rivalry Helps Kids Prepare for Life)
2. Keep it in perspective
Siblings duke it out over the most mundane issues: who gets to ride shoddie in the car; who is touching whom, or who got the most ice cream for dessert. (And then there are the non-mundane issues, like who mom loves most.) Circle of Moms member Lisa M. says this is to be expected: fighting with your sibling is a rite of passage. "I hate that my kids fight, but unfortunately they do. But then I realized that me and my sister fought over everything. And that now that we are all grown up, we are very good friends."
3. Teach basic rules of fairness
Moms should try to teach children how to peacefully and cooperatively work out a disagreement, rather than fighting it out. A good way to do this is to ask your kids leading questions, such as, "Can you suggest a solution that will work for both of you?" or "How will that make your sister feel?" As Circle of Moms member Catherine H. explains, "Talk to youngsters about fighting and other ways that a problem can be resolved."
4. Reenforce cooperative behavior
Denise M. suggests strategically-bestowed "Praise, praise and then more praise." As she explains, "The key point is to ignore fighting and then to lavish attention when they're caught acting right. Children will quickly get that hint."
India R., a mom of three, agrees: "I constantly remind them that no matter what happens in life they are a team and they always have to stick together and I try to reinforce when they are supporting each other instead of fighting. I also encourage them to play games and do things together and also get involved in sports (that they want) I think this has helped them to blow off frustrations and energy and explore their individual personality and strengths. And I praise them when they do." (Related Reading: The Key to Building Your Child's Self Esteem)
5. Don't take sides
Equal treatment is necessary when dealing with fighting siblings. The quickest trap an adult can get into is taking sides or doling out uneven punishments, says Carol S., who has three kids. "I have learned to remind them that I am on all of their sides and that I will give them [all] a time out and punish them equally. It works wonders."
How do you calm down your kids when they are fighting?
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