With just two kids around, home is frequently turned into a battle field. Picking up on trivial matters (according to you), siblings fight with each other tooth & nail. Very soon, you lose your patience and you angrily intervene. You reprimand either one or both the siblings and stop the fight. You thought you have got peace now. But lo, it starts all over again, may be more ferociously. Is it the daily story at your home too?
Siblings do fight & its not a surprise:
You may not be surprised to know that siblings closer in age and of the same gender are more prone to be at loggerheads with each other, more often. Toddlers may pick up a fight as frequently as every ten minutes! Kids between 4 & 7 years fair only slightly better. Depending upon the innate tendencies and the age difference between siblings, kids pick up fight arising out of jealousy, competition, domination, aggression and resentment. The fight also mostly revolves around possessions of kids, when the sibling snatches, borrows or damages their possessions. You may be surprised that even kids with a bigger age difference fight, although the elder is generally more mature, understanding, accommodative and protective of the younger sibling.
What can you do as a parent?
You may tend to pass it off as part of the kids’ growing up. It may be true to a large extent that, kids don’t hold grudge for too long; they let go more easily than adults. As they evolve into more responsible adults, it may also be true that, siblings who fought more bitterly in their younger days turn out to be better bonded and closer to each other.
However, you do want your kids to peacefully get along, with good understanding and mutual respect, co-operation, tolerance, forgiveness, caring and sharing. It also brings peace and harmony at home. So, what can you do to achieve that, more often and consistently?
1) Be a detached spectator when your kids are about to enter into a conflict. Watch out for the predisposing behavior of one or both viz., arguing, insulting, swearing, name calling, yelling, hitting etc. Later on, have an intimate one on one interaction with either one individually and explain with patience and loving care why the concerned behavior must be avoided to prevent conflict. Explain how he/she could have responded differently. Gradually, the kid learns the tricks to get along well not only with the sibling but with others as well.
2) Time your intervention in the conflict only when it gets too hot for the kids to handle it themselves.
3) Be careful to avoid taking sides when attempting to settle the conflict. You may not be aware that you have a tendency to be prejudiced or favouring one based on past conflicts. If either of the kids feels he/she has been unfairly dealt with, the resentment will stay well into adulthood.
4) Be proactive to avoid potential conflict inducing situations. For example, if both want to watch different TV programmes or use the computer at the same time, sit with them before hand and help them to arrive at a mutually acceptable TV and computer schedule.
5) In the thick of the conflict, stop the kids in their tracks. Ask each one to take turns to explain what happened while the other one listens without interruption. After each has finished, restate the event as stated by each kid. This will give each the feeling that he/she has been heard and understood. Then ask them what could be done to resolve it. This will encourage them to look for the solution rather than the problem. The tension and conflict will diffuse.
6) Distract to diffuse. When one of the kids is about to blow the lid, divert his/her attention to his/her favourite outdoor activity viz., a visit to the entertainment centre , zoo, cycling, a game of football or cricket in the park etc. Even turning the discussion towards a favourite hero will do. The idea is to postpone the conflict and use the time to take effective measures to diffuse the crisis.
7) Encourage the kids to develop good habits of friendship and co-operation among themselves. Provide plenty of opportunities to have fun together. In conflict producing situations, let them focus on the act and not the person. Let there be a direct message of what causes the other person discomfort so that attention can be turned towards resolving the source of discomfort. Let them develop the habit of taking turns to hear the other person fully, while remaining respectful and calm without interruption. Let them arrive at a mutually agreed set of rules among themselves that there shall be no yelling, name calling, no taking without asking, no physical harm etc.
8) Since kids tend to imitate adults at home, the onus is on the adults to behave themselves and set an example.
If you have used any other common sense approach that worked, pl. let us know.
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