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Taming Sibling Rivalry!

“Mom, he’s picking on me again!”

What started as a fun-filled summer now has some families reaching their breaking point! Siblings who happily played together are now on each other’s nerves and parents are doubting that their sanity will survive until August.

It’s not just your family…many of us are at this point!

There is hope! With the A,B,C’s of Parenting and 5 Steps to Reducing Sibling Rivalry, you can put down the referee whistle and hand the problem-solving back to the kids. Let’s get to it!

1. Lay the groundwork. Have a family meeting, clearly state the problem and invite everyone to participate in the discussion. “I have noticed there has been a lot of name calling lately. In our family, we are respectful to each other, today we are going to work together to fix this issue.”

2. State the rule. From this point on there will be no name calling.

3. Brainstorm. “Let’s share ideas of other things you can do to let someone know you’re upset with them.” This is the time when all ideas are accepted, no matter how silly. The kids may suggest some ideas that may not seem logical, accept them with “that’s one idea” or “write that down, it may lead us to other ideas too”.

4. Set consequences. As a family, decide what consequence will occur if the family rule is broken. It could be something as simple as a two-minute time out for everyone to calm down, then get back together to work things out.

5. Stay out of it. Do not put on the referee stripes and start throwing the yellow flag. Instead, calmly walk into the room and say, “It seems that you two have a problem and feelings have been hurt. I know the two of you can problem solve together and work out an acceptable solution for both of you. I can’t wait to hear the solution you decide on.”

When using these steps, remember…

  • Encourage your children to use “I statements” and attach feelings to actions. “I get mad when you walk in here and turn on your show while I am still watching my movie!”

  • Do NOT fall back into the role of referee.

  • If the kids continue to fight, simply walk into the room and say, “Remember our no name calling rule, what happens now?”

  • If the kids respond with “she started it” do NOT get sucked in. The family rule was made by everyone and they all agreed to it, now they have to follow through.

One last important key to success:

ACKNOWLEDGE their good behavior.

If they are getting along, say something right away. “It’s so nice how you are taking turns with the game.” or “That was a great job working that out with your sister. You remembered the rule and you found a solution together!”

Hang in there! These steps may work for a while, then there will be back sliding. If you stayconsistent and follow through with the consequences they’ll stick with it.

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