Sibling Rivalry: How To Stop Children From Fighting | Teaching Self-Government

Sibling Rivalry: How To Stop Children From Fighting

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Questions: Children Fighting

“Any tips on dealing with sibling rivalry? Homeschooling is not productive due to this issue.”

“My children seem to fight about everything. Most of the stuff is stupid, like whose turn it is to sit in the front seat, or who gets what place to watch a movie. Is this just normal sibling rivalry they will grow out of, or is this something I can fix? Please help!”

Is is possible to be siblings without rivalry?

Answer:

Sibling rivalry is probably one of the most common reasons a home which is based on the right principles begins to feel dis-united.

There are multiple things you can do to start leading your family toward happiness and harmony. Since I am going to list many ideas here, the explanations will be brief. For more details on this topic you can listen to the recording of the November 18th Gold Member Conference Call. Or, if you are not a member of the implementation Course, you can find further details in selected chapters of Parenting A House United.

I love how you said, “most of the stuff is stupid.” that is so typical. Don't we all finally choose to become bothered by small stupid stuff? I don't know how many times I fought with my brothers about who was the “most in-charge,” or who got the last cookie. These seemingly silly things are so important in the eyes of children.

How To Stop Sibling Rivalry

It sounds like your children need to talk more about the family vision, or have one established.

Vision: It's what keeps us all striving for self-government, and relationship improvement. If we don't have visions, we are lost.

Vision is a vital part of why a person has a change of heart, and the whole point of parenting is to mold and change hearts. We must give them a vision.

Where you are going directly relates to who you are!!! This vision helps form your identity. Who you see yourself becoming determines who are are being.

Our family vision is the standard we are holding our whole family to each day. It has a feeling attached to it that we all want. I encourage you to go through the process of making one.

For those of you who are familiar with the importance of learning the skill, “Following Instructions,” behaving like our family vision describes is an “understood instruction.” This means all fighting, name calling, teasing, or manipulating are 'not following instructions.' They get the same type of correction as any other 'not following instructions' situation.

Skills: They are essential for happiness between family members. Some skills which would be helpful to learn are:

  1. Following Instructions

  2. Accepting No Answers

  3. Disagreeing Appropriately

  4. Appropriate Family Relations

  5. Problem Solving

Each of these skills has it's own list of steps. For best implementation, start with the first one and work my way down the list.

All 5 of the skills listed here meant to be used with siblings and friends as well as with parents and teachers. Make sure you teach your children that they are skills for life, not just for when they are a little child.

Praise when the siblings are kind to each other. Maybe even develop a positive motivation system which can get the family started in the right direction. You may want to read this article about a motivation system we used at one point. Rachel's Bean Magic

Practice: Doing daily role plays with the skills can help your children learn the “right” way to solve problems. Have them practice disagreeing appropriately, and accepting no answers when there isn't a real situation. Always praise during practice time! Role-plays are magical. I know they feel funny, but they are the things that help the child see that they can really change.

Correction: Every time there is a report of fighting or doing anything contrary to the family vision, or if you see any behavior you know can damage relationships, then you must do a calm correction. Knowing how to do a proper correction and deliberately following through will invite your child to start analyzing himself and choosing to be more loving. The tone parents have during a correction let the child know if it is okay to fix their own mistakes. This tone sets a great standard for the other constructive self corrections they must do as they learn self-government.

SODAS are perfect for helping a child who has a habit of fighting, or teasing siblings see what other options he has to solve problems besides fighting. SODAS are perfect for looking at your own behaviors. Use them regularly and after a correction.

Seating In The Car: I don't know any family who hasn't had to address the issue of arguing over who gets the preferred seats in the car. It just seems to be part of having a group of children. But, a fight before every outing can really ruin the tone of your family, and decrease your energy as you go out.

This is what we have done. For quite a while we had a rotating seating chart in the car. Each week the children in the car were assigned a new place to sit. Some weeks they got a preferred spot and other weeks they got the undesirable seats. They were fine with this arrangement. It worked well. Certain seats required helping younger ones get into their car seats so this also helped mom and dad. Everyone seemed be able to remember the rotating seating chart just fine, and practiced having patience when it wasn't their week for the best spot.

Then one day we had a family meeting and much to our surprise, the car seating topic came up again. (If you are a Gold Member, there is a video of this meeting on Step 8) In the meeting we decided to switch to assigned seats. Honestly, I was surprised they all agreed to it. Now all my children have a certain spot assigned in each car. They go to their spots and don't have a problem. It is incredible self-government. Even Porter, who is in the middle in every car, never complains. He has found that he likes middle back now.

I highly recommend talking about this topic in a family meeting with your family. Come up with a plan that will work for you. Keep it simple. The best thing about this new program is that there is no need to remember weeks or anything.

Just so you know, if we go places alone with a child, they can sit where ever they want to. They like those privileged times.

Friends

Regulating the amount of friend time a child has helps the child enjoy siblings more. If you ask my children who their best friends are, they always answer with names of each other. This doesn't mean that they don't have other friends. They have plenty. What this answer means is that they see their siblings more then friends and have more familiar play with siblings than with friends. I like this feeling in the home. Family relationships are forever. Friend relationships often come and go. For this reason we keep sibling relationships as a priority.

If your child seems to be even more bugged with a sibling after a long period of time with friends, you might be getting a clue that friend time needs to be cut back in order to keep the focus on the family vision. You may want to read a series of articles I wrote on friend time. Can Too Much Friend Time Hurt Children? And Too Much Friend Time Part 2: Making Confident Children

Everyone has times when they feel more argumentative and selfish than at other times. Your children will go through these emotional ups and downs as well. The trick is to make and environment based upon principles for success. I hope the ideas listed above get you going in the right direction. 

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