Six Suggestions to Stop Sibling Squabbles

Welcome to Mom-Monday!

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 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. :)

* This post was originally published 2009. (I’ve been busy celebrating my birthday with friends and family this weekend. Can’t wait to tell you about it soon!)

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?


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  1. This post was very timely for me. I was just about to tie a couple of my kids up! Just kidding. Most nights, 2 or more of my children are going at it. It's very hard to deal with, as I work all day and feel to tired to discipline. I love the "get involved" suggestion. And my 10yo daughter is the queen of tattling. Drives me crazy most days. Grace!

  2. I! It's a no-go here and I try very hard to squelch it! My kids seem to bicker in the car…a LOT! Here's something I tried on a whim and it's VERY effective. Not sure how I came up with the song, but if they start up in the back seat I threaten to sing to them. If my threat doesn't work, I start singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" in my absolute worst-possible voice! The bickering stops and they instead beg me to stop singing. However, the last time I did this they joined in and we all sang together. It was fun…not to mention, it ended the bickering!Peace and blessings to your day!Jeanine

  3. These are great tips! My two (6 & 4) just started bickering this year. I put a stop to it by challenging them to a staring contest. The #1 rule is that the can't laugh. They always end up giggling after 5 seconds, and it stops them from fighting!

  4. That works really well until about 10-12. At at point, they have to work together to resolve the problem. If they bring us into it, they have to do squats. One of the punishments we've had to resolve bickering is holding hands cross-wize, standing in individual tile squares, doing squates, saying, "I am in trouble because of you and you are in trouble because of me." They usually end up laughing, issue forgotten. However, that 10 to 12 is pretty dicey.

  5. These are awesome! I could have a used a few of them this weekend. I will definately try them out, knowing my luck probably tonight too.

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