As a parent, watching your children argue and bicker with one another is one of the most trying experiences. Parents have some options when it comes to how best to deal with these issues. Some parents let their kids work it out by doing nothing, leaving the kids to resolve matters on their own. Other parents dive right into the action and solve problems for their children just to achieve peace and order quickly.
The healthiest approach is probably a combination of these two approaches. To teach children how to work out conflicts with each other, and develop important relationship skills, it is best to give children time to resolve the conflict on their own. If they are unable to, or the argument escalates to insults or fists flying, then you will need to intervene. Ideally your intervention will allow for them to solve the problem themselves, but with your guidance.
Here is my go to tool if I need to intervene:
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- I acknowledge what the problem appears to be and feelings related to it.
- I ask the children what they can do to solve the problem
- I let them know that they need to solve the problem on their own in a respectful way. If they cannot or will not work together to resolve the issue then I will solve it for them. I also underscore that if I have to resolve the problem, they will likely not like my solution. Additionally, they will not be off of the hook as each child will still have to discuss ways they could have resolved the issue.
This process can feel time consuming, especially at the late afternoon, early evening time of day when homework, dinner and activities tend to converge into one bundle of chaos. Despite, the return on investment is there. Children begin to develop the necessary skills to resolve conflict and they become familiar with this process and often a simple reminder to work their issues out keeps them moving in the right direction.
How do you deal with sibling rivalry in your home?