A great parenting tip (that really helps with sibling rivalry)

I mentioned last week that I’ve had a few of those parenting-is-hard days lately. It seems like my kids (9 and 11) have been bickering more than usual.

But there’s always good to be found in the bad, right?

And in this situation, the good has been that I’ve had opportunities to implement a great tip Dani Johnson gives in her book Grooming the Next Generation for Success. Here’s the tip (summarized in my own words), from the chapter People Skills, under “Children need to be taught how to forgive and how to be forgiven”…

When your kids argue or are upset with each other and you get involved, ask them what they did in the situation and what their part was.

As Dani explains, this approach helps teach your kids to take personal responsibility for their actions.

Before reading this, when my son and daughter argued and I intervened, I usually said something like, “Tell me what happened,” and then gave each of them a chance to share their version of the story, one at a time, without interruptions.

While it was good that I was giving them a chance to talk individually, inevitably they’d end up telling me how the other one was at fault.

But lately, I’ve started asking, “What was your part in it?” and “What do you think you could’ve done differently?”

It’s really made a difference. 

Not only has it helped to diffuse my kids’ arguments more quickly because it takes the blame factor away, it has also helped them to consider more how their actions and words affect each other.

Love it!

*For more information about sibling rivalry, check out my post Six Suggestions to Stop Sibling Squabbles, or visit Dr. Mom, a pediatrician turned stay-at-home mom who recently wrote about this too, and who also happens to live near me. :)

What about you? Take a minute and share one of your parenting tips. It can be one you learned from someone else (friend, book, etc.), or one of your own. And it can be about any topic, whether sibling rivalry or not. I’m looking forward to reading them, and possibly sharing them on a future Mom-Monday!


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  1. I like this idea a lot…though my middle child, who is cause or catalyst in most bickering these days, will be far too young to use it on for *several* years to come. (Sigh. That is the pitfall of developmental delay…she has the emotional maturity and bicker-ability of a 3 year old, but she doesn't even say "mama" or "dada" yet.)

  2. This is a great idea. My six year old is at the perfect age to do this. My 2 year old well…

  3. Hey Genny,What a great idea! I haven't heard that one before. I'll have to try it next time there is too much noise in the back seat!Another one I like (that may sound crazy at first) is used in the car.When an argument breaks out, turn the radio up as loud as they are arguing. If they get louder, turn up the radio more. Sing along with the music – if you feel so inclined.My kids usually start laughing at me as I drown out their arguing. It doesn't solve all of the problems, but it's a quick fix when you need some peace!Blessings to you,Melanie

  4. Thanks, everyone! And, Melanie, I've done that one before too. It really does usually end up in my kids' laughing. :)

  5. This IS a great tip Genny!! Thank you for sharing it!Be blessed-Amanda

  6. I have never tried that! I will have to look at your 6 tips too. We are chin-deep in sibling rivalry right now, so I'm trying to diffuse it by "work, work, work" to wear those boys out before I let them loose….

  7. Love the work, work, work tip.A while ago, when my kids were fighting, I had them fold a load of laundry together and it really worked. By the end, they were singing songs together. No kidding!

  8. Glad I stumbled upon your blog, just today I also had a 'parenting is hard' day as well. About favouritism. My two year old prefers to be around Daddy and makes me wonder and feel like I'm the mean mommy!

  9. Oooooooooo…that's a GREAT tip! I'm gonna have to use that one! The bickering has been increasing more and more as the summer progresses.

  10. First time here! So random comment, but I love that chair in your header. The yellow one you are sitting on. Love it! Anyway, glad to find you. Always looking for fun parenting sites and other moms to blog with!

  11. This post came exactly when I needed it! I have two daughters 7 and 4 and it is a non-stop "bickerfest" at my house. I've tried many things but I think this is a great idea. They won't have the opportunity to tell on each other…which is where most of the satisfaction comes from. And if all else fails, I think the laundry folding idea should do the trick! :) Thanks so much!

  12. I passed on two awards to you on my sitehttps://mburbage.blogspot.com/Enjoy your day! even as I type my kids are bickering at each other so I must go deal with them..*sigh* ~Melanie

  13. Yes, this is a GREAT tip!! I read that part in Dani's book too and it works well.

  14. This is great – I need to remember to do this more. I've also heard to say, "What was your sin in this?"Another great trick for bickering in our house is from Lisa Whelchel's Creative Correction: I make them shout I LOVE YOU 10 times at each other as loud as they can. They can't help but giggle. I also make my son kiss his sister on the cheek when he is mean to her. Keeping a sense of humor makes things go so much better!

  15. LOVE THIS! Let's try it on my 3 year old and her 18 month old sister….

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