Parents are, by job description, arbitrators of the highest order. Yet, often in our zest and desperation to put in end to ongoing disagreements and battles among our children, we inadvertently take sides.
Penny Alexander of ParentShaped blog shares her perfect recipe for peaceful and non-biased resolutions.
We all want to know how to stop siblings fighting, I think I’ve found a brilliantly simple trick. Disclaimer – I should say conflict is normal and healthy and part of life, you won’t stop it completely, but recently we changed one thing about the way we handle fighting and it made a massive difference.
I think you might like to know about this technique too, because it doesn’t involve massive changes to your routine, sticker charts, bribes, money or exhausting days where you don’t see your other half/have a moment’s peace/manage to talk to another adult, because you are hell bent trying to keep the kids apart.
The biggest thing I was doing wrong was jumping in and taking sides. I didn’t even really think I was taking sides, just trying to solve the issue quickly and fairly with my adult wisdom hat on, but what I was actually doing was playing judge. And it was back firing hugely. For example…
We picked up my 5yo from a party, he wouldn’t give my 7yo anything from his party bag. So I asked him to, immediately and without realising almost, I had taken sides. So he dug his heels in more and things got nastier. He ate all the cake and the sweets in one gulp (alright well not quite, but it was fast) and he threw the wrapper at my 7yo. She grabbed him by the collar, and they were fighting.
After a bit of googling ‘how to stop siblings fighting’ I saw the error of my ways. All it takes is six words, ‘How can you make this better?’.
Sounds too simple, but what you are doing is giving kids the chance to sort the problem out for themselves. This is amazingly effective in that it means they learn to problem solve and deal with conflict, you don’t get stuck playing judge and things don’t escalate so fast.
It puts the ball in their court. So when my daughter refused to let my son have a go on her new roller-skates, he started shouting. They were about to start physically fighting, but all I said was, how can you make this better? They both suggested deals, they were both a bit unfair to start, I mediated a bit, but didn’t judge.
Then, as if by magic, they struck a deal they both loved. He got to go up and down, to the lamppost 10 times, but she would give him lessons. It was amazing to watch her help him.
Then a massive storm came, so we ran for shelter together, my 5yo on rollerskates in the middle of me and my 7yo. We laughed so much. When the storm passed he kept skating, on his own this time, through puddles, and my 7yo didn’t ask for them back, instead we just giggled and smiled at the rollerskating ninja.