I remember my sisters and me driving our mother crazy with our sibling bickering and fighting. There were four of us and, for her, it was probably relentless. Those were the days when parents stopped the car and threatened that the annoying children should get out and walk home. In fact, sometimes this happened. Our Dad’s strategy was to put the fighting pair in the dinghy and tow us behind the boat on the longest possible rope. But there are some ways to support your children through sibling disputes in ways that help them to like each other after the fight.It’s important to remember that we tend to notice more of the conflict, jealousy and anger because it drags our attention away from the tasks we are busily trying to attend to (cooking, work, washing, dishes, firewood, phone calls…). When our children are being cooperative and loving, it often goes under the radar as it doesn’t interrupt us. When we do notice good connection between our children it is incredibly heart-warming and, as such, it is worth looking for.
As with most parenting tips, the answer is time and attention. As soon as you think things between your children are going pear shaped, get in there and give attention and listen. Your children are then likely to feel more resolved emotionally and not need to fight.
If things have escalated into conflict before you noticed, take the time to hear both sides. It’s important to really listen to, and care about, both of their experiences. Listening does not mean agreeing and it’s good to avoid taking sides. If you are able to express your wish that you had got there sooner to help your children (taking some responsibility) they will not need to blame the other and they will feel more able to like each other after the fight.
Both children need your help, the victim and the aggressor. The aggressor may be expressing an attitude of ‘I don’t care’, but this is a result of your child trying to manage their guilt and distress. This child needs help to get back to themselves. Alternate who you spend time with first when a conflict arises. This can be some special time together really listening to each child’s woes on their own; you need to listen more than you need to problem solve.It is helpful to remember that essentially children want to love their siblings and feel loved by their siblings.
If you need a listening ear for yourself please feel welcome to ring us at Homebuilders. Parents need to be heard, too.