I recently posted a parenting tip for handling sibling fighting that recommended you walk away and refuse to get involved in the conflict. I know for some of you, the worry is that your children are either too physical or too young, and still need your involvement.
That’s fine. If ignoring is not going to be a viable tool for you, then let me offer up another method called: “Putting Them in the Same Boot.” This tool ensures that both children involved in the conflict perceive that you are not siding with one over the other. This method makes sure there is no accidental favoritism that can erode the sibling relationship. It honors the fact that in any conflict, both parties are able to influence the outcome. Since fighting requires both children to keep the situation hostile and unresolved, both should experience the same discipline for their disruptive antics, regardless of who started it, who had it first, or who owns it. None of that matters! If fighting erupts and doesn’t resolve itself, and you feel you must step in, try one of these lines:
“Looks like you two are having trouble being together at the moment. You can both go to your rooms and cool down for 5 minutes.”
“I guess I will have to put away the riding truck until you two can figure out how to share it without fighting. When you have a plan worked out, come get me and I’ll give it back.”
“If you can’t agree on how to take turns on family computer without fighting, the computer will be turned off for this evening. You can both try again tomorrow.”
“I am having a hard time enjoying my dinner when you’re at each other like this. I’m going to take my plate to the kitchen. Call me when table is peaceful again and I’ll come back.”
With both children being put in the same boat, they are now interested in getting their brother or sister to be cooperative with them rather than sustaining the conflict. With this new method, they are invested in not upsetting the other. Give it a try and let me know it goes for you. If you’ve already had success with this method, share your stories! Nothing is more motivating than someone else’s success story.