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4 Ways to Stop Siblings From Fighting

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My husband looked at me and the words rolled heavy off his tongue, “Do you know what we’re doing here?” I knew exactly what he meant. There we were on a family walk, and instead of enjoying a time of togetherness and connection with our kids, we were listening to the siblings fighting.

It was a moment that reminded me that, as a mom, sometimes all I want to do is get my kids to stop fighting. They pick at each other and it feels exhausting and disheartening. I try to focus on the times when they get along beautifully, but the truth is sometimes siblings fight and somehow we need hope to move forward another hour, another day. Sharing that tense moment with my kids reminded me how easily, in the heat of conflict, emotions can take us on a wild ride. Here are some creative things to help our kids stop fighting.

1. Create Physical Space

Nothing helps end an argument like moving the arguers out of earshot of each other. Many kids will complain if they are separated or promise to stop fighting if they can stay together. But a mom often knows when the fighting has gone too long or too far. Separation does not need to be a punishment; it can just be a fact of life. If our kids are having difficulty stepping away from an argument, we need to be willing to step in and, with an attitude of instruction and guidance, help them create that space.

2. Teach Them How to Compromise

Wanting to be heard is universal. Children don’t need to be taught to go after what they want. But listening is a skill that requires practice. Creating a compromise is a great way to do it. Have your kids take turns telling each other what they want. Then encourage them to brainstorm if there is a way to accommodate both of their needs. Give them a suggestion to prompt them if they get stuck. This simple exercise helps kids recognize the power of listening and the value of trying to see from another person’s point of view. Given the option, many kids will choose to compromise if it means they can continue to interact.

3. Emphasize Turn-Taking

It’s almost inevitable—as soon as one child starts an activity, the others immediately want to do the same thing. One of my daughters recently learned how to make a slideshow on the computer. You can bet that pretty quickly my other daughter’s new must-do activity was to learn to make computer slideshows, and arguments over photo viewing quickly ensued. This required a turn-taking solution. In our house, computer use is a limited privilege. The child (with permission) may use their allotted time and the waiting child must occupy themselves elsewhere until their turn comes (no hovering or backseat driving allowed). Turn-taking teaches patience and encourages a mindset that puts other’s needs first.

4. Learn to Live with “No Fair”

Bickering and fighting often result when kids feel some injustice has been done or that life is just not fair. We can all relate, can’t we? Kids are right—life is not fair—and part of growing up is learning to live with disappointment.  Children often bicker over who got what, who went first, or who started it. As moms, we need to empathize with our kids and find opportune moments to step in with compassion and a listening ear to let our kids vent, then encourage them to pick up and move on. A gentle and well-timed “I know. I’m sorry it’s so hard. Sometimes things don’t go the way we want them to” can be a strong encouragement for a child feeling frustrated and prone to argue.

What helps you stay calm and collected when your kids bicker? What helps your kids?


What can I do to help you when you’re having a hard time with your brother or sister?

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