Sibling Squabbles

“Squabbles between siblings are inevitable and necessary. The less I do, the better.”

Many parents are surprised to hear my advice on how to handle sibling rivalry.  And most parents I hear from are exhausted from the job they have taken on as referee.  Trying to referee doesn’t work and in fact can increase the number of incidents that will occur because kids get your attention when they argue and fight.

Avoid Micromanaging

“Tell her it’s your turn; let her play, just for a minute? Please try to get along.  Remember he’s smaller than you.  Don’t hurt the baby; remember knock to knock his tower down.  You’ve hurt her! No biting! Be gentle…” Did you bite him?  Who did this?

Be the Stabilizer Neutral and empathetic

“Oh, that’s too bad.  Show me where it hurts.  Do you need a band-aid? I’m sorry your tower got knocked down again…remember you can build it in your bedroom or on the table to keeps it safe. Boy, that’s hard, isn’t it?  She might change her mind in a while.  Looks like I need to remove the tricycle for now (as you are already picking it up).  What do you both need to remember here? Can you guys sort this out or do you need to play separately in your rooms.  There is too much noise in this room for me.  Can you be quieter or you can play outside.  Shall I remove the baby or can you remember not to lean on her. I can tell everyone here needs a break.  Can you find books or do you need to be in your room?

Final Thoughts

  • The less you do, the better

  • They will fight, hit, yell and probably bite, especially twins

  • It’s OK.  And we don’t need to know who started it.  Simply stabilize it, as above.

  • Resist feeling sorry for the younger one, smaller one or the one who had a difficult birth, etc.

  • Learning to get along together comes gradually

  • Good parenting means having time.  Having more than one child mean having even more time.