Playing Referee: How to Settle Fights Between Siblingsby Anna Santos-Villar .
Still, some situations require parents’ intervention. You’ll know it’s time to mediate when:
1. Hurtful words dominate the spat.
When the dialogue has veered from the issue and has become an exchange of cruel and disrespectful remarks (e.g. “You’re stupid!”) and maybe even bad words, it’s time to draw the line.
2. Fighting gets physical.
Since they can’t express themselves clearly, kids sometimes resort to hitting to release their frustration. Whether it’s a “harmless nudge” or an “innocent push,” parents should intervene. Otherwise, kids might conclude that physical aggression is a valid way to solve problems.
3. One child is bigger or older than the other.
Intervening between two siblings is one way of teaching older kids to practice tolerance toward their younger siblings. At the same time, you also teach your bunso to be more respectful of ate or kuya.
4. A child begins to lose self-control.
You know the squabble has gone too far when your child is already bawling, screaming, or throwing a fit. He can neither reason nor be reasoned with fairly in this frazzled condition.
5. Bickering has gone on too long and in circles.
You’ll easily recognize when an argument is going nowhere (e.g. “Did, too!” “Did not!” “Did, too!” “Did not!”). Don’t let it reach boiling point, and don’t bother asking who started it. Since kids have short attention spans, at this point, they’ve probably even forgotten how the fight started.
How to Step In and Sort It Out
When kids have obviously lost control of the situation, parents should know how to step in and ensure a fair intervention.
“It may be impossible for parents to be around all the time to mediate,” says Dr. Alianan, “but proper conflict resolution needs to be modeled to [kids] as much as possible.” This means that in the end, all parties involved must be willing to compromise and to give in to the other’s needs and wants.ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
Dr. Alianan adds, “We need to teach children how to negotiate, how to have civil discussions and mutual agreement.” As soon as you see that your kids have learned the basics of a peaceful negotiation, you may eventually allow them to resolve differences on their own.
But until that time comes, our step-by-step guide should help you establish—and hopefully maintain—the peace at home:
1. Quash the Squabbling
Calm everyone down while keeping a cool head yourself. Separate children if they begin hitting, pushing, or threatening each other. If they can’t stop the bickering on their own after much pleading from you, you may have to use “muscle”: pick them up one by one and bring them to different rooms or areas that are far enough to keep them away from each other for a time-out—this will give kids a chance to think and settle down.
2. Identify the Problem
Gather the kids and encourage them to take turns in telling you what happened. Remember to address the problem, NOT the person—so don’t prioritize whose fault it is as much as what can be done to fix the problem. Besides, immediately putting blame on one child will discourage him from resolving the conflict, thinking that in losing his parent’s sympathy, he has already lost the fight.
Remember that toddlers only think about their own feelings and have little understanding of social rules. They primarily express themselves non-verbally, so you will have to feed them words to describe their feelings and the reason for the quarrel. For example: “Are you sad because...” or “Were you angry that kuya took away your toy?”
With preschoolers, you can help them describe the dispute with simple “Why?” and “What happened?” prompts. Parents should stay in charge of the conversation, using gentle, constructive words, and asking questions every now and then to clear some statements.ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOWRecommended Videos
3. Seek Possible Solutions
The goal is to devise a win-win situation for both parties. Ask the kids to cooperatively come up with suggestions on how to settle the strife fairly.
If kids were fighting for your attention or over concrete objects like toys or food, Dr. Alianan suggests a simple solution: alternate, even for just 30 seconds each. Be patient and make sure that each child gets his turn. “Oftentimes, after about three exchanges, the children no longer want the toy in question,” he assures.
However, Dr. Alianan advises against forcing children to share when they’re not ready to do so: “Respecting the prerogative of a child to hold on to a toy is a message that must be sent clearly if we expect the child to respect the requests of others.”
Of course, limits need to be clearly set when the child obviously hogs all the toys most of the time.
Devera says that her strategy in appeasing “sharing” issues with toddlers is to offer a different toy to the other child, which works well with children aged 2 and below. “If a toddler grabs a toy from a baby, I’d tell the toddler that grabbing is not acceptable, then ask her to give the toy back. If the toddler really [wants] that particular toy, then I would tell her to get another toy to offer to the baby and trade it for the toy that she wants,” she illustrates. Devera says this has worked all the time since the baby will always find a “new” toy more interesting than the one he has played with already.ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
4. Set the Parameters for Future Battles
Remind kids about the importance of good manners and respect, such as keeping voices down and applying the appropriate turn-taking skills (when to speak and when to listen). Hold them equally responsible when these basic rules are violated.
If they can’t come to an agreement on their own, assure them that you’re always free to listen and help arbitrate. Allow each child to express his or her feelings to you privately.
Remember: the way parents resolve conflicts and disagreements sets a strong example for kids. If you can offer a calm, respectful, and productive resolution, children will most likely adopt the same positive approach next time.
As kids grow up, their needs evolve. Their changing personality and anxieties affect how they relate to others. Expect the usual challenges— whining, backtalk, defiance, and generally turbulent behavior—as kids fully explore each developmental stage they are in.
If you can already hear y
Enter your details below and receive weekly email guides on your baby's weight and height in cute illustration of Filipino fruits. PLUS get helpful tips from experts, freebies and more!
We sent a verification email. Can't find it? Check your spam, junk, and promotions folder.