Help! My kids won’t stop fighting!

Help! My kids won’t stop fighting!

Parents generally see their children as wonderful gifts from the heavens but children don’t always see each other in that same light.  They first see their primary caregivers, and the love and attention they get from them, as a limited commodity.  They then see their siblings as competition for that love and attention and sometimes feel they have to fight for it.

When a new child enters the family, the oldest or older children sometimes feel as if they have been dethroned and now have to share their parents with this new child.  This can bring about feelings of animosity and jealousy between children.   To deal with this problem effectively, parents can find ways that will allow the older child to become a teacher or leader to the younger child(ren).  You can also give the older child special privileges and give them special time with you, such as one-on-one dates to help them feel like they haven’t lost their place in the family.

Fighting and other forms of sibling rivalry also occur as a result of these feelings.  Avoid racing into every little argument or disagreement.  If you do, it will teach your children to create problems just to get you involved.  It will also train them that they are NOT accountable for stopping fights and working things out, it teaches them instead that YOU are responsible for doing that.  Because you ARE responsible for keeping everyone safe, sometimes the only solution is to just separate them.  This is especially true for when toddlers and preschoolers hit one another or begin to fight.  It just means they’ve had enough of that other person for a while and they want them out of their space.

Avoid using punishments like time out and avoid taking sides.  When a conflict breaks out, just separate both of them.  It doesn’t matter who started it or who did what, just separate them in different spaces to be apart.  And during this moment of behavior management, remain calm and talk very little.  You can easily transfer your own negative feelings into the relationship between the children.  Sometimes the conflict between the children is actually an imitation of what’s going on with the adults.

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