Why Siblings won’t Stop Fighting and Arguing!

We all know that even though we have children who can be the best of friends, they can still get on each other’s nerves and fight and argue until the cows come home!

It’s quite understandable though really isn’t it? After all, they live together, eat, breathe and sleep together and spend much of their free time together, with no real choice! They are competing for attention. You and I would get irritated once in a while, wouldn’t we?

But, what do parents do when things get out of hand and the kids appear to be fighting, and arguing constantly, with no let up?

Mum’s have called me in desperation and said: “Elaine please help me – I feel like I can’t cope any more – home is a terrible place to be with all the constant fighting, bickering and arguing!”

However, if you think about it, having siblings can be a bonus – they will learn how to share and take turns, and how to give the other child space and more importantly how to use words instead of physical force in order to get what they want.

So, to help keep the peace at home – Here are a few things parents can do:

Very often parents act as referee, breaking up fights and squabbles. But, its more important to look for the cause or the root of the problem. For example, if your children are always fighting about a certain thing – like – who is going to use the shared i pad or certain toys, try and look for a pattern.

Ask yourself: when does this happen? How often does this happen? Why do I think this is happening? Could it be that when a child starts playing up, he knows he is going to get his parents attention?

Positive Praise

You can perhaps stop this happening by giving positive praise – when you see that the children are playing nicely together stop right there and then and give them praise “Hey James, that’s really nice of you to let Thomas play with your Lego – well done sweetheart!” Letting them absorb that positive attention will help to reduce their need for negative attention when they get bored!

Planning is Key!

Naturally, even with all the positive statements and compliments, your children will still fight and argue. What you CAN do to try and prevent this from happening too much is to say to the older child “ If little Johnny snatches a toy, or hits out at you, just come and tell me quietly and I will sort it out”. By doing this, you are giving the older child a sense of responsibility and its much better that you castigate the younger one than have the older one hit him back!

If you have a younger child who always likes to knock Lego or other structures down as soon as they have been built, which of course could cause a huge problem – you could teach the older sibling to go into a separate room to build, or to build structures specifically for the younger one to knock down!

If there is some sort of conflict that happens regularly – a common one for example is who is going to sit in the front passenger seat of the car on the way to school or the supermarket. A good plan for this is to say that one child will sit in the front one day and the other the next. Problem solved. They know where they are at with it!

Another good plan is to set timers when they take it in turns with toys and games.  The main thing is to be clear with your instructions and be consistent, remember YOU are the parent and what you say – is what should happen! The more proactive you can be, both before they start their day and during it, the better and calmer the outcome will be.

A good way of getting your kids used to positive affirmations is to encourage them to tell you when the other one has done something GOOD rather than something NAUGHTY!  “I would love to hear about good things you two are doing – such as sharing, being kind, taking turns nicely.”

If you confiscate something – Give it Back!

Even with all this planning in place there are still going to be times when there is conflict perhaps over a toy or a game and you will have to resort to confiscating it.

Do make sure that you are clear about how long it is going to be confiscated for and when they will be getting it back. This will prevent further arguments later on!

“That’s not fair!!”

This is a common phrase that we all hear from our children isn’t it?

What we must remember is that life sometimes isn’t fair and it’s not realistic to think that it will be! At night time the older child will probably stay up later than the younger one “ that’s not fair” I hear the younger one say – the parent can explain that the sibling is older so he is allowed to stay up later but that of course means that the younger one gets a few extra minutes with mummy on her own to have a story. But don’t always feel you have to explain WHY some this isn’t fair. You are the parent, YOU make the rules!

To be honest I used to find that my kids got so into the habit of saying “that’s not fair” that I think it literally was just a habit!

Children with learning difficulties

So, what about children with emotional or developmental challenges?

Talking openly about the child’s problems to the siblings is really important so that the sibling understands that his brothers/sister’s retaliation may not be quite the same as his.

When I’ve treated children in my clinic for anger issues or behavioural problems, I’ve found that one of the most common things that children tell me is

“I just want some time with mummy or daddy on my own sometimes”

So, I always suggest, that whatever the dynamics are at home, whether there are two children or six in one family – even just ten minutes once a week with mummy or daddy is better than no time at all. We all want to feel special, we all crave personal attention, your children are no different but the difference you will see in their behaviour will be life changing!

If you’d like to discuss any of the issues mentioned in this post, please feel free to get in touch at info@focus-hypnotherapy.co.uk or by phone 02038887173

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