Disagreements between siblings have many causes which can include jealousy, competition, differences in temperament and developmental stages, illness, and daily stress.
So, what’s a parent to do when sparks are flying?
Try monitoring the situation from a distance. Do not get involved unless there is danger to a person or property. If they come to you with the disagreement, encourage them to work it out between themselves peacefully. Parents are often surprised to see that their children are capable of working through disputes on their own. Set firm rules, such as, “no physical contact”, “no name-calling” and “no putting down or belittling one another.”
If you must get involved…
- Give every one time to cool off. Allow enough time to pass for emotions to calm down.
- Don’t take sides.
- Don’t worry about who started it or who’s to blame. Just try to resolve the disagreement in a peaceful manner.
- Insure that everyone has adequate time to speak.
- Insure that the feelings of everyone involved are acknowledged and respected.
- Try to come up with a win-win situation so that something is gained by each child.
When children work through disagreements with their siblings, they are developing important problem solving skills that will benefit them and those around them throughout their lives.