I love the carefree schedule during summer break, but it also means an increase in sibling arguments. Even though my kids get along together in general, they get on each other’s nerves when they spend too much time together. As their fighting increases, my patience decreases big time. Here are my tips for managing the squabbles that can disrupt the family harmony.
Have Realistic Expectations
Sibling rivalry is going to happen. Disagreements are natural. You don’t get along with everyone you meet or know, so you can’t expect your kids to always get along. People tend to lash out to those they are closest to — such as family — because they feel comfortable with one another.
But that doesn’t mean you have to allow disrespect. Kids need to learn what is acceptable in a disagreement. Expressing opinions is fine. Calling names, hitting or otherwise being disrespectful is not okay. Set ground rules on how to treat people with respect.
Accept that your kids will sometimes have disagreements. You can’t stop every argument. But you can have a point where you need to step in or have the kids take a break from one another. When the fighting gets intense, have the kids go to different areas so they can calm down.
Teach Conflict Resolution
Some kids are naturally able to negotiate and problem solve. Others need help figuring out how to resolve conflicts. Most kids want things their way or no way at all. Help your kids learn to compromise by talking them through their disagreements. Instead of just telling them what to do, ask them what they think they could do to solve the problem. Offer suggestions if they can’t come up with anything on their own.
Avoid Too Much Competition
A little friendly competition between siblings can be a motivator for kids to work harder. Too much competition can fuel arguments. Avoid comparing your kids to one another. It’s usually not motivating. Instead, it leaves one child feeling that you like the other better. When you notice the kids focusing on winning and losing or saying one is better than the other, remind them that they both have strengths.
In our house, the kids tend to bicker more when they’re bored. You don’t have to plan activities for every minute of the day, but giving them plenty of activity options during summer break can fend off boredom-related bickering.
Don’t forget to allow each child space. My daughter always wants to be with my son, but he sometimes likes sister-free time. We have a rule that the kids can only go into the other person’s room if that person agrees to it. Their bedrooms are their personal spaces within the home and I want them to learn to respect those boundaries and need for privacy.
It’s tough to relax when you have kids arguing in the background. But sometimes you just have to let them work it out and accept that there won’t always be peace and calm in a house with kids. Teach them how to disagree in a healthy way and be consistent so they can eventually resolve their own conflict.