21 answers

How Do You Stop the Fighting?

Can anyone out there give me any advice on how to get brothers to stop fighting? I feel like all my boys (9 and 5) do is fight and it is breaking me down! It is so bad that I don't want to be around them. I find myself going in my room by myself to get away from them. I want to enjoy my kids...but right now I am at the end of my rope...I just can't take much more. We have tried sitting them on chairs...taking privileges away...etc. Nothing seems to stop the constant fighting. I know we should ignore some of it...because brothers will be brothers...but this is to the extreme! I have even considered seeking professional help, but I don't know if that is the answer. PLEASE...I need help!!

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thanks so much to all you wonderful moms for your wonderful advice! We have started a new "chore" policy with the boys. If they start fighting and it gets ugly and they don't resolve it quickly...they get one warning to resolve their issue and find something to do or we will find something for them to do. When we have to find them something to do...it isn't fun!!! They have had to clean their bathroom, sweep the floors, fold and put away the laundry, etc. This has seemed to work so far. Our oldest especially...he hates to clean...so he is quick to resolve his issues and sometimes he is nicer than normal so that they don't start a fight!! Hope this continues to work. Thanks again for everyone helping me in this matter...you all are great!!!!!!

Featured Answers

I have only just entered the two kids zone, but I have been told by my sister in law that when she fought with her other sister they were sent to write a list of 10-15 thing they liked about their sibling. Then the next time they were fighting they were each sent to rooms to read the list. She said it worked for them!

1 mom found this helpful

Try to get them involved in sports. Hard working sports. My sons 16 and 17 aren't fighting when they are playing sports. You have to wear them down. Drain it out of them.

Hang out with other families some. Don't just stay home get them around other kids. I noticed my kids will bond around other kids usually. It's like they're a team.

L. B

1 mom found this helpful

More Answers

I have done two things with my kids.

1. Sit them cross-legged on the floor facing each other. Have them sit with their noses touching each other's nose. They will start off so angry, and then even angrier at you, but within seconds, they are giggling at how silly the whole thing is, and before you know it, you are all having a good laugh and the air has been cleared.

2. When they fight, forbid them from playing with each other ! Don't even allow them to talk to each other. Make a big point of telling them that since you can't play nice, you are NOT allowed to play with each other at all. You can't even be in the same room together or talk together.
The kids will start to protest very loudly ! Don't give in until you start hearing the "I'm sorry", and "pleases" that will start coming out of their mouths. At this time you can get them to talk and reason out what more appropriate play will be.

In either case, you break the tension in the atmosphere, and get an opportunity for them to settle down and talk about the problem at hand, then work out a reasonable solution.
They are never going to be cured of fighting with each other. Most of us even carry our petty fights into adulthood. But we can learn how to deal with them when the issues come up, and even learn to laugh at ourselves.

2 moms found this helpful

Try to get them involved in sports. Hard working sports. My sons 16 and 17 aren't fighting when they are playing sports. You have to wear them down. Drain it out of them.

Hang out with other families some. Don't just stay home get them around other kids. I noticed my kids will bond around other kids usually. It's like they're a team.

L. B

1 mom found this helpful

hi shelly,
i am a single mom and have been raising 3 sons for the last 17 years. they are now 17,19 and 21. i would reccommend the counseling. it would be more for you than them. one thing that has helped is to talk and establish rules, when they are not fighting, that they have input into. ie if we fight we both will have to go to our room or designated place in the house for 30 mins./ 1 hour. i would have mine hug each other, say they were sorry and why. then they would have to say how they would handle the situation better the next time. other consequences would be some of the things you said, no games, tv, phone, playdates. what also helped is to have them write the consequences and put them in a jar or box. they would have to pull one out and serve that consequence.

the other thing i had to learn is to catch them being good. this can be a challenge. as much as possible, praise them for anything that they do right. ie, put a glass in the sink after using. turn off a light. help each other out. in other words, intervene in the positive and stay quiet in the negative. they would have already decided the consequences. they will pick it from the box/jar.
catch them being good and they will try even more.

the other thing i would have my sons do is take them outside and have them run up and down the sidewalk in front of the house. it would start with 3 times, if they got mouthy i would say, oh you want to do more, then you can now do 10. i would get some peace and they would have an oppurtunity to work off some energy.

remember to be good to yourself. the word says to :"love thy neighbor AS theyself". love you and you can love them more. choose your battles. some fighting is healthy. i found that if i stayed out of it, they usually worked it out. if not, back to pulling the consequence or running.

be blessed.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi S., as a counselor who works with children and families, what you have described is very common. I often give this article to parents. It has some great suggestions:


1 mom found this helpful

I really like the book Siblings Without Rivalry. I really recommend it. It isn't about taking away privileges or punishing in any way, but about how to get them to get along. They also have a book (you may have heard of) called How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk. It's great too! They're very fit YOUR family type books about how to talk, not one specific way to deal with kids.


1 mom found this helpful

I have only just entered the two kids zone, but I have been told by my sister in law that when she fought with her other sister they were sent to write a list of 10-15 thing they liked about their sibling. Then the next time they were fighting they were each sent to rooms to read the list. She said it worked for them!

1 mom found this helpful

Wow, you must be having a hard time. This is a difficult situation. I'm sure you are going to get a lot of great suggestions. You may want to try this... let the boys fight. They have to figure out how to get along in their own way. Every time you interfere, you are giving them attention, siding with one or the other, solving their problems.

But here is the catch, they can't disrupt the family. If they get loud, disrupt a meal, outing, etc, that's where the discipline comes in and HARD. They get punished equally because their crime is disrupting the house.

It may take a while, but not all lessons are easily learned. Also, they will also be some fighting, but your goal is to have them learn how to figure these conflicts out by themselves.

Also, when my kids were fighting over a toy or something, it became mine, no arguing, no negotiations.


1 mom found this helpful

I think it depends on thier personalities, when by boys were fighting a lot I got mad and told them to go outside and hurt each other. They both looked at me like I was crazy( I was at the end of my rope also)It upset them and they said they did not want to hurt each other. I told them that they were hurting me with all this fighting and arguing, and I could not take it any more. This made them think. Most of the fighting stemmed from the oldest wanting to be in charge because he was the oldest and the younger wanting to be in charge because he should be able to do everything the other can better. The younger is more competitive.. I also had to start limiting the time they spent together.

1 mom found this helpful

I opened this and thought I must have "sleep written" it! I have the exact same problem and have tried the exact same things; down to the privelage loss! I am SO glad to read the replies and see that it's normal.
I will say that when I force the oldest to take care of the brother he was mean to it really irritates him. I suppose at the time that's the reaction I'm looking for!

If I can find the patience, it always helps if I'm not joining in on the yelling. I make them hug for five minutes on the couch and they always end up giggling. Not sure that would work for everyone, but it HELPS for us. Not works; but helps.

So, I can't advise on the fighting, but I'm sure both of us will feel better knowing that "this, too, shall pass"!

1 mom found this helpful

I enjoyed reading the various suggestions so far. Although, I would give some thought to using any form of togetherness or sharing as a punishment. I can imagine a variety of possibilities for long term repercussions in sibbling relationships. I can see how it could work, but it would take a certain ability to direct it in a successful way and seems risky to me. Some people have developed the skills for guiding this sort of thing successfully and may not realize there is an art to it.

I really liked the idea of learning martial arts together. If they have the right instructor, they are trained in a variety of virtue skills, like respect and awareness of others and self control.

First I would suggest that you think about your goals as a mother. Do you just want them to stop fighting? Or, do you really want more? What skills would you like to see your children develop so that they might develop enduring bonds of caring and respect?

I feel that many of us grew up in homes that parented re-actively rather than pro-actively. Children do not simply grow up knowing how to interact gracefully, caringly, or respectfully. They have to be taught. They have to be taught how to solve problems effectively without recourse to argument or violence. Punishing them only tells them what you do not want them to do. It does not help them find a better way to solve differences and develop habits of cooperation. Even if they know a punishment is coming, they will revert back to fighting out of frustration if they have not developed other problem solving skills.

Since we were not raised this way, it is up to us to learn how to do this. Professional help is one idea, but I would look for a parenting coach or family counselor rather than professionals who leap to medication as a solution.

I found a book called The Family Virtues Guide, by Linda K. Popov (www.VirtuesProject.com) when my son was 7 or 8. Today you can even get CD's of talks from the Virtues Project seminars and workshops. These ideas transformed my parenting skills. It even helped me talk to my husband much more effectively!

I do understand the frustration. A week ago we spent 3 days with two sisters who bickered, sniped, and verbally badgered each other. Each time I heard them speak rudely to each other I would take one of them aside and tell them something like, "I think I know a way you could be far more powerful in situations like that." That got their attention! Then I would say something like, "If you insult your sister, you are not likely to get the response you are really wanting. If you show her some respect first, then use your humility to present your wishes as a request rather than a demand, then remember to show her your gratitude, you might see her respond more like a friend than an enemy." Then I would add a little 'honoring' to it by telling the girl something like, "I have noticed you can be quite eloquent and you seem to have a very good vocabulary. I think you will learn to be very persuasive with your words."

You see, rather than shaming the child, I helped her feel empowered to accomplish her goals and feel quite good about herself. By the end of the holiday weekend, the girls were speaking to each other so much more effectively and I noticed that they were also speaking far more respectfully to their mother, who was extremely grateful.

Just remember, I've been working with The Family Virtues Guide for 15 years. You won't learn it overnight. But, I can say that learning it is the best gift I ever gave my son and my family.

Best wishes to you and your two precious sons.

I guess it depends on the issue they are fighting about. My boys are two years apart (9 & 7) and I have them settle most of their arguments with "Rock, Paper, Scissors". It works with 'who goes first' and 'who chooses first' and stuff like that - it works perfectly.

If they are fighting over a game or toy of some sort, than the toy/game goes in 'time out'.

I intervene when one child is bullying the other or if they are obviously 'mistreating' each other. I really, really push to make their frienship very important. They will need each other someday and it's important to nurture their relationship.

Give them challenges where they HAVE to work together. Or enroll them in a karate or wrestling class where they learn to spar constructively and safely. My siblings and I came up with "Wrestling on the Lawn" (it was the '80's, when Hulk Hogan was actually cool) and we made up rules (no face, no hair, no scratching, no crotching), and used to spend hours doing it in matches that we would take turns "reffing". But we also went camping and bike riding and did stuff where if we didn't work together nothing wouuld get done. It taught us to communicate better and we were too busy to fight. Even though we are really different people now, we are pretty close, and though we can go a month or two without chatting, we pull together instantly in times of trouble b/c we learned to work together.
The most important thing my parents did was to send us to separate summer camps and separate activities. :)
Good luck.

Sorry to hear that all they do is fight. They are going through a fase. One method that will help them is to make them either hold hands for 5 minutes everytime they fight or to make them hug. The best way to help make this work is to make them do something together and warn them that every time they fight they will hfave to hug or hold hands while diong a chore and work together. This does help, my kids only fight now when we are in the car.

My mother got my oldest btorther and sister to stop fighting by sitting and watching them fight until they gave up. She made sure that they were not seriously hurting each other. They would keep looking at her waiting for her to tell them to stop. She always broke them up and got tired of it. They do not fight at all now, over 30 years later.

I haven't read the other responses nor gone through this myself just yet but a good friend of mine makes her girls stay in their room and work it out. Plain and simple. When they come out they better be getting along or they have to go back in their room and work it out for real...

i'm gonna start w/ boys are crazy. mom has to be a little crazy, too. i don't mean insane.. just a little crazy. when my bos fight (13, 10, & 8) i make them hug each other. sometimes this is done with humor and sometimes it's done w empathy.
then if it continues, i assume all involved have too much energy, so they do excersises. w/ weights! (push-ups sit-ups,weghts to the floor and over your head... wear 'em out!) good luck

This isn't an answer but a thank you for your posts. I am having the constant squabbling and fighting problem with my 13 year old and 14 year old grandsons that we are raising. The youngest usually is the one that starts things by being critical and opinionated of his brother, which leads to an argument then a push and shove and sometimes a swing at each other. I have handled it mostly by sending them to their rooms and telling them, lately, loudly (not proud of that) that this behavior is unacceptable and that it will not be tolerated...things will cool down for a day, maybe, then they are back at it. I have gotten to my wits end and was looking for other possible solutions...I have found some here..thanks.

I know this is very late, but I feel for you! I have two boys 8 & 13 & they have fought as far back as I can remember. the youngest has always known what to do to get on the oldest ones nerves & the oldest one has no patience and wants to use the younger ones things but doesn't want the younger one touching his things. I have to admit the younger one is destructive, but still fair is fair. Anyways I don't have much advice (I'm still working on my own), but if you can let them fight it out or work it out it helps alot. Mine got to the point they were dangerous to each other and to my house. Now when they start saying negative things (which usually end in a fight) I tell them I only want to hear nice words and things or we can stay home / they can stay in their rooms or whatever. I am editing because I accidentally hit send...I wanted to say that everybody I know that has kids 4-5years a part has gone through this and doesn't always get better. I have two older brothers 5 years a part & it's still a struggle betweent them. Part of the reason is you are basicly raising two only children. Mine were not planned this way by any means & I knew better & I try to warn anybody I know that say they want to plan having their kids 4-5 years a part. If you figure anythign out please let the rest of us know!

Is the fighting physical or just arguing? My sister and I fought constantly, but never physical. We are the best of friends now, so there is hope. (Mom thought we'd always hate each other..lol...She cries when she finds out we get together just because or talk on purpose...or even...*gasp* HUG....lol)
Kids, siblings just fight...Some more than others, and yes it makes you crazy. My two middle kids are the ones that argue the most...I've threatened to lock them in a room together until they got along or killed each other...
All I can tell you is that you are not alone. I think sometimes it's just part of it...Do your best...seperate them and get lost of sleep 'cause you're gonna need it...lol

I get sick of this too. My boys are 8,7 and 5. I start revoking priviledges until they stop. I quit taking sides, or trying to referree. I just tell them they need to find a way to stop fighting or they ALL lose:
TV, videogames, swimming, playing with favorite toy, webkins, whatever they are really obsessed with doing. I read somewhere to let them learn to resolve their own conflicts and not do it for them. I have found this to be true for the most part. Other times, I have to tune it out and/or separate them. Separating them sometimes is highly effective as well. They forget what they were fighting about within 15 minutes or so!! Good luck!

my kids are 15, 13, and 8 and they rarely argue or fight. They learned at a young age that this behavior was not allowed as I wouldn't let them talk to each other in a mean way or fight. They know how to talk to each other and if one of them does something that bugs the other they usually stop when the person tells them it bothers them. The boys (15 and 8 yr olds) share a room and get along well. They have their own spaces for their things and don't get into each others personal stuff.
The kids learned to respect each other and get along well most of the time. Sometimes I have to remind them when they start to talk mean that they need to talk to each other the way they would like to be talked to and that usually helps them have discussions in a more respectful manner instead of saying things that they will regret later.

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