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5 Tips for Reducing Sibling Conflict

It’s a common complaint of parents with more than one child: brothers and sisters who can’t seem to get along. While not all sibling conflict becomes bullying, it’s still hard to listen to your kids argue.

No one expects their kids to be best friends all the time, but you don’t have to listen to constant bickering, either. Try these tips for reducing sibling conflict:

  1. Remove yourself from equation. Sometimes fighting is a sure way to get your attention. Try not to get involved unless someone is in danger of physical harm. Arguing may end when your kids realize you aren’t paying attention.
  2. Lay the ground rules. Even very young children can be taught to be responsible for their own actions. Post a list of family rules, including no hitting, yelling, name-calling, etc. Refer to it even when your kids are getting along so they know what behavior is expected.
  3. Separate them. Send your kids to different rooms when they fight. Also, don’t insist that siblings play together all the time. Everyone needs their own space and time to be alone or enjoy activities with other friends.
  4. Model peace. Teach your kids how to resolve conflict by example, whether with your own friends or your spouse. Kids are more likely to do what you do, rather than just what you say.
  5. Make a schedule. If your kids argue over who gets to sit in a certain seat at the table, make a schedule. This also works for favorite toys, TV remote controls, etc. Assign certain days for each child to have the coveted item or spot.

If siblings still have frequent conflicts, consider reading a conflict management book or taking a conflict management course as a family. Ultimately, your kids have to learn to work out their own conflicts so they can be successful later in life when they have to deal with others.

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