Each sibling conflict gives us an opportunity to either teach our children or to try to control our children.
It’s not uncommon for kids to try and “make” the parent be the judge when there is a conflict and to take their side. It’s essential to not do this because your children will feel you favor the other one. This can happen especially when a younger sibling runs to you to tell on their older sibling. Your tendency may be to protect the youngest one and blame the older sibling.
Refrain from doing this! Otherwise, the older sibling will actually dislike the younger one even more for getting them in trouble.
When we use discipline parenting strategies we are approaching the conflict as a teachable moment; an opportunity for our children to learn important life skills. When our children learn how to resolve conflicts, the joyful result will be a more harmonious family.
Let’s examine the problem of siblings fighting.
You can think about this conflict in one of two ways. The controlling viewpoint is “How am I going to stop their fighting right now? I could try yelling, threatening, or offering them a bribe to get them to stop.” The discipline approach is to think “How am I going to teach my kids how to get along so I don’t have to be the one to control them?
The discipline viewpoint involves TEACHING problem-solving skills to your children so they can handle the conflict better the next time. The problem-solving skill can actually see results quite quickly.
When siblings learn a more mature approach, they can practice resolving the issue with greater harmony. This discipline approach can feel daunting because it takes time, knowledge, and forethought. Rest assured that the time you put into teaching problem-solving will be less than the time spent constantly repeating attempts at controlling your kids.
A sibling argument is a joint problem because everyone is unhappy and wants change. It’s not a time for you to be a Director.
Your children probably think their sibling is the one who needs to change. Through the following joint problem-solving process, you will teach your children that everyone takes responsibility for finding solutions together. No one person is at fault. Understanding this rule of relationships is an invaluable life skill that will give them a solid foundation for adulthood.
Step 1: Share the problem as a group using a “talking stick”
Step 2: Everyone offers possible solutions without judgment
Step 3: Discuss solutions and choose one
Step 4: Put the solution into action
Step 5: Meet again at a predetermined time, such as in a few days, a week, etc. to see if the solution is working or if you need to try another one.
The adult’s job as a disciplinarian is to teach children life skills. Children need guidance to find solutions because their reasoning brains aren’t fully developed yet. Even children as young as 5 can start to self-reflect and work on finding solutions together — so teach them how while keeping in mind their maturity level.
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