Six Suggestions to Stop Sibling Squabbles

Welcome to Mom-Monday (Vol. 6).

I’m glad you’re here!

(*Giveaway winners are listed at the end of this post.)

Any mom with two or more kids has seen sibling squabbles…from the toy snatching of toddlers to the bickering of older kids. And even though these interactions between sisters and brothers are inevitable, they can sometimes be hard to deal with.

But with a little discipline and consistency, they can also be stopped.

Here are six suggestions I’ve found effective:
1. Get involved. Rather than yelling at your kids to stop fighting, or hiding in the other room and pretending not to hear :), kneel down with them and talk about why they’re arguing. Help them to learn to problem solve. Did one of them snatch a toy from the other? Teach that child to learn to ask for the toy or wait his or her turn. Or maybe the other child needs to learn to share more. If your kids are older, have them consider how the other person is feeling. And help them to see both sides of an argument. I’ve found that, many times, the squabbles my kids have gotten into are excellent opportunities for character building.

2. Create space. If your kids are really young, the whole “talking about it” thing might not work so well. If this is the case, separating them when they’re fighting might be your best bet. You can still take the opportunity to tell them things like they shouldn’t be snatching, but after you do, have your kids go to separate rooms for a while. Sometimes, giving them space is all it takes to cool things down.

3. Get positive. If your kids are fighting, have them stop and give each other a compliment (if they’re old enough to do this). Or have them make each other a card. Even though they might start out through scrunched-up faces and frowns, by the time they’re done saying or writing something nice about each other, you’ll be amazed at the smiles that will sneak out. Compliments can go a long way in diffusing a fight.

4. Get loving. I stole this idea from a friend of mine: Tell your kids if they don’t stop fighting, they’re going to have to give each other a big hug. And if they don’t stop, have them do it. When I’ve taken this approach, it’s resulted in my kids getting silly and laughing–and pretty soon, they aren’t fighting at all.

5. Put them to work. Have your kids clean a room or do something like empty the dishwasher. It will take their minds off of arguing and help them to be productive. The other day, when my son and daughter (ages 8 and 10) were bickering, I gave them a warning and told them if they didn’t stop, they’d have to vacummn the entire upstairs. They didn’t stop. So they ended up vacumming. And by the time they were done, they’d forgotten all about being mad at each other. They probably wouldn’t admit it, but I think they even had fun. And the house looked better, too.

6. Don’t listen to tattling. I think it only encourages more tattling, and it pits your kids against each other. When they come to you tattling, have them work it out themselves. Encourage them to stick up for each other, rather than set out to get each other in trouble. The rule we have in our house is, unless it’s is an emergency or a safety issue, they can’t tattle about it.

So the next time your kids are squabbling, take heart. If one approach doesn’t work the first time, try another. And remember there will be many moments of sweetness in between all the bickering. :)

So what about you? Have you tried any of these suggestions in the past? How have they worked? Do you have any other ideas or “sibling squabble” stories to share?


Congratulations to the winners of last week’s CD giveaway:

Kristin from Bits and Pieces From My Life, Anti-Supermom, and JennyMac. Please email me your address this week so I can forward it to Christy Nockels. You’ll love her CD.

And a last note: if you haven’t done so already, please enter your link below to “meet” other moms. Stop by a few sites listed each Mom-Monday and say hi to each other. :)


  1. My kids are getting older now so I encourage them to work it out. Or I resort to what you said put them to work. :)Hope you are enjoying summer. We are!

  2. Had enough parenting disasters to know what NOT to do~ don't manipulate or control~ don't threaten~ don't get angry from frustration~ don't give up and ignore them~ don't blame their lack of sleep or diet~ don't blame their father~ don't punish cus they stole your peace~ don't bribe with a treatThink that about covers it… although I'm sure theres some don'ts that I haven't discovered yet.

  3. These are great tips, esp. since my kids are reaching the squabbling stage (which mostly consists of them calling each other poopie heads, voices rising, until someone decides to get physical and then the other cries…) I'm going to be using your tips today at breakfast. LOL

  4. I've done the hug thing…that almost always results in laughter. I don't entertain the tattling, either. And I also get them busy if they don't stop. And you're right, they tend to enjoy it (once they succomb to the work) and feel proud of the work they do. And usually, not always, but usually, they want to do even more. :)All good tips.

  5. This is some great advice, but I am still battling the "share factor" with my son. He doesn't want to give up ANY of his toys with his sister…It's such an issue. He's almost four and my daughter is just a baby at ten months! He needs constant reinforecment of the "rules" since she doesn't know any different…I will certainly be referring back to this kind of thing in years to come…when I hear the fun REALLY begins!

  6. Thanks for chiming in! Sande, I love your reminder not to blame or bribe–thanks! And Theta Mom, yes, it does get easier as they get older. :) I remember those sharing battles. When my son was born and got his new blankie, my daugther decided she liked it too (even though she already had one). He'd be cuddling it and she'd swipe it right out from under him…lol.

  7. Genny~ These are ESSENTIAL tips!!! Love this post!! I need to print this out and put it in every room of my house!!! I hope every parenting magazine out there reads this and puts it in their publication!!!God bless-Amanda

  8. Genny,All six tips are worthy of the "good mom" award! However, when your children get to be teens, it all changes. Their scwabbles can become much more intense and even violent. Yes, I have witnessed my kids punch each other (not in the face). The legs or shoulders are usually the flesh of choice. Of course, I break these up but have found getting in the middle of their tifs is not a good idea. I'm to the threatening stage with my two teen daughters. "No movies this weekend," or "You are not going to your friend's house," are much more effective. I know they really love each other; I just wish it would show more often.

  9. Kellie–thanks for sharing. My oldest is ten, so I'm not at those teen years yet. :)

  10. Good Morning Genny. Love your constantly thoughtful and positive tips. We only have one right now..perhaps you can tell me how not to get upset that our son only likes Daddy right now. LOL. And THANK YOU for the giveaway news. I will email you shortly. Have a great Monday.

  11. LOL!!!!What will my boys (11 & 9) do if the next time they are putting each other down, I make them give each other a hug??? I, uh, almost can't wait for their next argument, just to see the looks on their faces when I tell them to open their arms up and share some love!

  12. Irritable Mother–you had me cracking up. Obviously, the hug approach is geared toward younger ones! :) Thanks, all, for your input!

  13. I'm so glad you stopped by! I love this post! I'm three months away from having my first, so hopefully I have some time before sibling fights are an issue. :) These are great tips though. So practical and intentional I'm looking forward to coming by again!

  14. Hi Thank you for stopping by.This is an excellent article. I am going through this right now with my 2 oldest. I am particularly fond of when I tell them if they don't stop, they will get big sloppy wet kisses. LOL it is gross sounding, they think so too and move on.

  15. Thanks for stopping by! Great tips — we've got a lot of arguing right now in the upheaval of moving that we're working through. I've also heard of having kids stand nose to nose. Starts the giggling pretty quickly too.

  16. So an 8 year old can vacuum? Excellent! :)I only have one child so far, but I love these ideas and will use them in the future.

  17. These are great – very helpful, thank you! My 4 year old and 19 month old have started getting into it lately. These will help me!

  18. I loved your suggestions here. Though I don't have more than 1 child, I have certainly seen some of these put to use by close friends with great success. Especially the first two. Eventhough it is incredibly tough to maintain a calm approach all the time, it certainly seems worth it.

  19. great mommy tips~ I am counting down the days till school starts…lol!Thanks so much for stopping by on my SITS day!

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