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Sibling Rivalry and Conflict Resolution Advice

With having more than one child comes the chance of sibling rivalry. Many brothers and sisters fight from time to time. Some siblings become great friends where others feel the need to compete for their parents’ attention, material possessions, obtaining better grades, or excelling in sports. No matter what the fight is about, it can be both very unpleasant and frustrating to hear and see your children fight. Below are some strategies to help keep the peace between your children and reduce sibling rivalry.

 Strategies To Reduce Sibling Rivalry:

  • Acceptable and Unacceptable. Discuss with your children what behaviors are acceptable and unacceptable and encourage their input. Make it clear that name-calling, yelling, swearing, hitting, kicking, etc. are all unacceptable behaviors and will not be tolerated. siblings fightingHave them help come up with and be aware of what the consequences will be when they engage in these unacceptable behaviors.
  • Don’t get Involved. When possible, try not to get involved and have your children workout their differences without you. You want your children to learn how to problem solve and find solutions
    without always needing your help. If things are getting out of control or might turn into a physical altercation then you should definitely step in, but for the most part let your children handle it by themselves.
  • Wait for the Calm. If you do get involved with your children’s dispute, make sure that everyone is calm when trying to problem solve and discuss the issue at hand. If your children are still upset, they will continue to fight instead of being able to clearly solve the dilemma.
  • Don’t Blame. Do not take the time to figure out who started the fight. It does not matter who started it, all that matters is that the conflict is resolved. It takes more than one person to be in an altercation and everyone involved is responsible to some degree.
  • Individual Interests. Be sure to set time aside to enjoy all of your children’s different interests. Offer one-on-one time for you and your children to do their favorite things. If your daughter really likes to do arts and crafts, set a date for just you and her to partake in these activities. If your son really enjoys going out to hike and explore, find time for just you and him to take a walk or go to the nature center.
  • Praise. Make sure that you provide specific praise for all of your children’s accomplishments and achievements. You want to make sure that your children receive the individual praise and acknowledgement that they deserve for their different highly preferred tasks and activities of interest.
  • Life Isn’t Always Fair or Equal. Let your children know that not everything is always going to be equal and fair. Just because one child got a new toy or outfit does not mean that everyone needs to get one too. Sometimes a child will need more of your time or attention and that is okay, because down the road it will be flipped and your other child will require more of your individual attention.
  • Time Apart. There is nothing wrong with allowing time for your children to do their own thing and be apart. Arranging different play dates as well as having your children partake in different activities/classes that are of interest to them is perfectly healthy and fine.
  • Schedule. If your children are constantly fighting over the same situations (i.e., what to watch on television, what to listen to on the radio, what game to play, who should go first, etc.) create a schedule to help monitor who has control over what things on which days and at which times. If your children continue to fight even after the schedule is in place, completely remove the item that is causing so much trouble.

To help reduce and eliminate sibling rivalry in your home, keep the above strategies in mind and utilize them when you can. In addition, to learn move about sibling rivalry and to get other helpful tips, read Sibling Rivalry: Why Siblings Fight and How to Prevent It!

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Handling Aggression In Toddlers

Kevin cries hysterically, meanwhile Tommy holds a red fire truck above his head. Nobody saw what happened, but there are clear bite marks on Kevin’s right arm. If this scene has ever unfolded in your living room, you’re not alone. Parents often express worry about their toddler’s use of aggression when interacting with peers. It can feel extremely concerning to receive news that your toddler hit or bit another child at today’s play date. Biting, kicking, pushing, and hitting are common issues in developing toddlers. Here are a few strategies to consider when navigating aggression in toddlers.

What can parents do?

The first step is figuring out why your child is demonstrating aggression. Keep a log of occurrences, and gather information:

1. Who does your child show aggression towards? Is it primarily younger children? A particular peer? Adults? The babysitter?

2. Where does aggression occur most frequently? Look for a toddler with boxing glovescommon environment (e.g. at preschool, at the park, in the playroom, etc.).

3. What triggers lead to aggression? Is it when you’ve told them “no”? Or when your child can’t verbally communicate their thoughts? During transitions during the day?

4. What is your child’s emotional state during aggressive moments? Do they seem tired? Frustrated? Sad?

Understanding why your child demonstrates aggression will help determine your course of action. For example, kids with delayed speech and language may use aggression to compensate for difficulty with verbal communication. It’s much easier to grab the truck than to say “I want the truck”. Similarly, children who have difficulty processing sensory information might feel more overwhelmed in over-stimulating environments, which may result in aggressive behaviors or poor impulse control. By keeping a log of occurrences, you can uncover patterns that may explain why your child is acting out.

Strategies to help your toddler during aggression:

The next step is to set clear guidelines, and give your child alternative ways to respond. Here are 7 strategies to consider when your child displays aggression.

1. Set clear boundaries ahead of time. Talk to your child about unacceptable behaviors in advance. Use clear and simple language (e.g. “It’s not okay to bite. Biting hurts people.”). You might even introduce these concepts through an engaging activity, such as a children’s story book (e.g. “Hands Are Not For Hitting” or “Feet Are Not For Kicking” by Elizabeth Verdick).

2. During moments of aggression, let your child know their behavior was not okay. Use a firm voice, and be specific (e.g. “No. We do not hit.”). Avoid yelling or using aggression yourself, as that might send a mixed message to your child.

3. If needed, take a time-out. If you notice your child is escalating or is having a difficult time regrouping, then provide a time-out to reorganize. Implement calming strategies, such as a calm voice or quiet space. When your child is ready, reintroduce them into the situation while guiding them through it.

4. Offer constructive ways to express emotions. If we simply tell our child not to hit, then we are not helping them solve the problem at hand. Chances are, your child was trying to send a clear message when they hit their friend (e.g. maybe they wanted a toy, or maybe they were frustrated). So instead of simply telling them what not to do, also offer them some better ideas. For example, you might model an appropriate phrase for your child to use “I want the car please.”

5. Give your child language to use. Especially if your child has speech and language difficulties, they may need help in knowing what to say or how to say it. Model simple, age-appropriate phrases to use in the moment (e.g. “stop that please” or “I want a turn”).

6. Provide safe opportunities to practice. For example, if your child frequently uses aggression with peers, then practice peer-interactions in a structure one-on-one setting with a parent present to guide and facilitate. If your child begins to display aggression, then intervene and model an appropriate way to handle the situation.

7. Praise positive behaviors. Let your child know what is going well. Give them positive praise with specific examples (e.g. “Wow, I like the way used your words! You said ‘my turn’. Good job using your words.”)

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Sibling Rivalry | Why Siblings Fight and How to Prevent it!

After reading Siblings Without Rivalry by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish, I had to question whether or not this title was realistic. Don’t all siblings have difficulty getting along sometimes? The answer is yes – all brothers and sisters go through conflicts that may cause you to pull your hair out. However, there is a difference between normal sibling rivalry and behavior that is not typical between brothers and sisters. There are also plenty of ways that parents can both reduce the tension in the household and actually exacerbate the situation. Sibling Rivalry

Why do Brothers and Sisters Fight?

• Siblings fight due to developmental levels. Younger children are going to argue over “silly” things, such as sharing toys and sitting too close to each other.

• Brothers and sisters may not get along because their personalities are either too different or too similar. You also may have two children with very strong personalities.

• Siblings of children with special needs may have difficulty with understanding why their brother or sister gets more attention than they do.

• Sex and age can also cause sibling rivalry. Children of the same sex and close in age may be more competitive due to having similar interests.

• Parenting plays a major role. How you resolve conflict may impact your children’s problem-solving ability. As a parent, you also have the power to increase or decrease the tension based on how you react.

• Fighting amongst siblings is normal. How and how much they fight is the question to be answered when determining what atypical behavior is. Physical interactions between siblings are never okay and should always be addressed. You may never fully eliminate arguing between siblings, but the frequency can always be reduced. Read more