Sibling fighting or sibling love?…. Do your little ones fight?
Coffee in hand I enjoyed the most peaceful 10 mins since Ruby entered the world 5 months ago this weekend. Now that I have three kids I am more aware than ever how good it feels to enjoy a moment of quiet. Ruby was having a nap and the boys (3 and 5) were nowhere to be seen. After the last blissful sips of coffee I slowly tip toed outside to see why the usual yelling, throwing and tackling wasn’t taking place. I found them building in the sandpit with rocks, sticks, bricks and everything else they could find. I’m not sure if it the fact that PJ is now finally talking well, or Freddy is learning to control his temper but the moments together of beautiful play is finally increasing. It hasn’t always been this way. When PJ was born and Freddy was 2.5yrs old, the jealousy and sibling rivalry started. So much so that we went to a free PPP (Positive Parenting Program) parenting session in search of tips and wisdom. Between that and our own version of trial and error, this is what I’ve learnt on along the way to help our kids with their sibling fighting....
Sibling Fighting - how we try to handle it
Notice the good
When our kids are getting along and playing nicely we comment on it to them. Not in an invasive way that interrupts their play but more as a comment in passing. We also often mention it later in the day for example at dinner. The boys love hearing when they have done the right thing.
Stop the sibling fighting before it happens
Impulse control is very much something our two oldest are still working on. When we can feel tensions rising or arguments coming we will often distract one or both of them with a question related to the fight. This isn’t to say we always interrupt, disagreements are normal as they learn social skills. But with 10kg weight difference we try to step in before anything gets physical.
This one can be hard if I’m running on days of no sleep and I feel the frustrations of incomplete to do lists, but I’ve long learnt that the calmer I am, the calmer the kids are. I also don’t try to reason with them or discuss what happened if either of them is in the red zone (more on this another time).
Talk about it later
Sibling fighting is normal for children's social development. But we want our little ones to learn self regulation. So we need to follow it up. Once everyone is calm we try to talk to them on their level. E.g. sitting together at the dinner table or on the mat so that you’re not standing over them. For example asking the boys what they could have done differently or what we can organise so that it doesn’t happen again is a fave strategy.