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As any parent knows, siblings fight, they argue, and they test boundaries. But when you’re a single parent, it can be hard to take on all the discipline in the home by yourself.
Try one of these six ways to get peace in your home.
1. Establish rules and consequences for fighting
Kids usually start fighting because they want something the other person has, don’t like how their sibling is acting, or feel frustrated.
One way to establish rules and consequences for the fighting is to set some ground rules about fighting, such as no hitting, no name-calling, and no using mean words. If the kids break one of these rules, discuss the consequences. For example, you could have a rule that the kids can only speak to each other politely and respectfully, and if they fight, they will lose privileges such as screen time.
And then the hardest part: you have to come through with the consequences! Otherwise, your children won’t believe you next time.
2. Set aside time each day for each child to have your undivided attention
Your kids may be acting out because they want attention. Although it may be the last thing you want to do when they’re fighting, giving them each undivided attention can make a big difference.
This can be a time for you to just talk with your child and listen to them. It can also be a time for you to do an activity together that your child enjoys.
Whether reading a book together, going for a walk, or talking, this quality time will help kids feel valued and appreciated. In addition, this regular one-on-one time will allow you to catch any potential problems early on and nip them in the bud.
This special time with each child will help them feel loved and appreciated, and they will (hopefully!) be less likely to fight with each other.
3. Encourage them to talk about their problems and feelings with each other
Depending on their age, this may or may not work. Encourage your kids to talk about their problems and feelings with each other.
This doesn’t mean that you should let them off the hook for bad behavior – but it can help diffuse tense situations if they know that they can talk to each other about what’s going on.
It’s important to remember that kids need to learn to resolve their own conflicts. Additionally, this can help build communication skills and foster a sense of teamwork among siblings.
So no matter how much the arguing is getting on your nerves, occasionally, you’ll need to stay out of it.
4. Reward them for good behavior
It would help if you also reward your kids for their good behavior. This could be something as simple as verbal praise or a special treat. When kids know that they will be rewarded for behaving well, they are more likely to put forth the effort to do so.
Experts say for every negative thing we say to our kids, we need to say five positive things to outweigh the one bad thing. Are you only noticing when they’re fighting, or are you also commenting on their behavior when they’re getting along?
Of course, this isn’t a cure-all solution, but it can go a long way towards keeping the peace in your home.
5. Don’t take their bickering personally
Don’t take what your kids say during an argument personally. There is no reflection on you as a parent because your kids fight, even if it’s a lot.
Kids fight and argue to work out their own emotional issues. They are often unaware of what they are doing, but it does have a positive purpose.
6. Do your kids see you fighting or arguing?
Finally, it is essential to model appropriate behavior for your kids. If they see you fighting with your friends or ex, they will think it is okay for them to do the same. Show them that it is possible to disagree without resorting to violence or name-calling.
The reason for the fighting
Try to focus on why they might be arguing in the first place. If they’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed, see if you can help them identify healthy ways to release their feelings.
Are they hungry or tired? Do they need something from you? Once you know the cause of the fighting, you’ll be better able to solve the problem.
In some cases, siblings fight because they feel like they don’t have your attention. In other cases, they may be tired or cranky and taking it out on each other. Then, of course, siblings will sometimes fight just for the sake of fighting.
Whatever the reason, try to stay calm and help them work through their problems.