August 7, 2007

“Mom! He’s touching me!”

"Mom! He's thinking about touching me!" Ever hear those comments from your children? Sibling squabbles are normal. Being part of the same family doesn’t mean your children will have compatible personalities and styles of relating so it’s not realistic for parents to expect them to get along.

You can prevent friction between your children by the way you set up your home and daily schedule. Each child needs some space to call their own even if it’s a shelf or a corner of a room.

Notice when your children are getting along and reward that good behavior with comments like, “You did a good job of settling that argument, “ or “Thanks for playing quietly while I was on the phone.” If you give siblings attention for the nice things they do, they will be less likely to squabble to get your attention.

When siblings do begin to squabble, wait at least five minutes before you intervene to allow them time to work things out on their own. If it becomes necessary to intervene you can say, “I know you two can work this out in a way that’s fair to both of you.” Then walk away. They may come running back to you complaining trying to get you involved. Use empathy and respond by saying, “That sounds frustrating,” or “I can see you’re really upset. Once they realize you will not get involved they’ll settle the squabble on their own.

By using these approaches you will be teaching your children skills in how to negotiate. Skills they will find invaluable as adults.


Sandy Jennings said...

I come from a large family, so when I was a kid there were lots of squabbles, many bad enough to actually be all-out war. Recently we all got together to celebrate my mom's recent recovery from a serious illness. I heard someone ask Mom how she had dealt with us. She said, "I left them alone!"
If I tried to settle an argument or punish an offender, they turned on me! Have you ever been confronted by seven angry teenagers?" I guess she knew what she was doing.

Renee said...

Good advice, but when should you step in if the more over-bearing of the sibblings is always getting their way?

Pam Dyson, MA, PLPC said...

I suggest that when this occurs you separate them. Putting some physical space between them will help them cool down. Clearly state that when they have both calmed down and are ready to get along they can come back together.

If siblings physically hurt one another then it is also necessary fo you to step in.