21 answers

How to Handle Sisters Who Constantly Argue?

I have 2 daughters ages 8 and 5. They are able to get along fine until one of them "snaps" and then watch out. They argue and yell at one another. The arguing can be about the smallest of things. Neither is usually innocent. Typically the older one pushes the younger ones buttons...she knows just what to do. The younger one then throws a fit. It is hard to know who is at fault...the button pusher or the tantrum thrower. I like "Love in Logic" parenting, but I can't seem to figure out how to deal with this sort of sibling issue. Summer is fast approaching and I NEED HELP! Any discipline suggestions?

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My cousin use to make her boys hold hands and sit in the corner facing each other for x-amount of time. These two men are the best of friends

I have a simple solution to this at my house... kids who can't play nicely together must work together. I've had them rake the dog pen, clean out trash cans, and pull weeds. I can't think of any other chore I've had to try, they decided after dog doo they would play nicely or just leave eachother alone. I also strongly believe each kid should have a place to retreat to that no other kids are allowed in, it can be a room, a shady tree, or even a small closet with a lamp and some books... sometimes we all just need a little privacy.

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I like my mom's approach to solving the sibling bickering issue. She created an attitude in the house that it wasn't just against the rules, but a bad human trait and not part of our family belief system. It worked. My sister and I became very close and didn't fight very often.

1) BONDING (more of a long term solution) - She found activities that required my sister and I to work together. (Like trust activities, games, chores, challenges, etc.) Also, anytime she had to divide up food like a cake, etc., she'd have one of us show where to cut the pieces and then the other sister got to choose which piece she wants. We never again had the 'she got a bigger piece' fight and we learned that we weren't going to get away with being selfish. Finally, she made it a big deal to cheer for each other (say if one of us was playing in a sport or acting in a play). She said the more we had positive opportunities to work together in every day, casual settings, the less she noticed us fighting.

2) SPEECH (in the moment solution) - Some call it "guilt tripping" but I think of it more as teaching children the importance of sibling respect and love... My mom's attitude (and speech)was always the following (beware, it's long): "You should feel blessed and lucky to have a sister because I was a single child (you could also say, 'there are kids out there who don't have siblings') and I always wished I could have a sister of my own to play with and to tell my secrets to. Someone that would have my back no matter what. Do you realize how nice it is for you to know that when you grow old and all of your friends go off, get married and move away to have families of their own, and something bad happens and you really need someone to talk to, you will always have your sister. Ask yourself right now, would you rather be lonely and sad when you're old or would you rather be happy and with your sister? You better say you'd rather be happy and with your sister or else you're just plain crazy. So whatever is going on right now between you two that makes you feel the need to scream at each other, it better be for a good reason and you better take care of it without including me or I just might punish both of you for not appreciating each other."

That's pretty much the same speech we got every time my sister and I had one of those 'sister fights' (which, by the way, started was when I was 5 and she was 9). I can still hear my mom's finger-shaking tone in my head! While she probably could've stood to have a couple hours of therapy about that sibling issue of hers, she did have a point. And she kept to her word about not getting in the middle of our bickering. Unless it got physical, in which case we were both in serious trouble no matter what, she did not intervene and we knew that we better have a good reason to do it and get it over fast or else we'd get the speech and maybe share a punishment, too.

Looking back, the speech did three things. First, it stopped the fight in the moment because by the time Mom finished talking we just weren't in the mood to scream at each other. (Heck, half the time we couldn't remember why we were fighting by then.) Second, we cut down on fighting because having to hear that speech every time got really annoying really fast. Thirdly, it taught (maybe brainwashed) us to respect and love each other. We became each other's defender and confidante. We pledged to lie to our parents when needed but never to lie to each other. We didn't judge each other. And we kept each other in check. We still do. It worked.

Good luck! Sorry for such a long response but hope it helps!

2 moms found this helpful

We are in the same position with button pushers and tantrum throwers. Instigators, overreactors, escalators. One thing we do for such sibling squabbles is punish all involved. It is fine to have disagreements, we just discourage the yelling, screaming, crying, shrieking, hysterical feuds.

Fair? Maybe not totally at all times, but it prevents us from having to sit in judgment of who is at fault (another process that is never completely fair) and it also encourages the kids to treat each other with respect and attempt to maintain civility even when they disagree. We always let each child tell their side of the story as well and work through how they could have reacted differently.

Of course there are exceptions where one child has clearly committed the transgression, but for the most part this approach works for us - especially in cutting way down on the button pushing.

1 mom found this helpful

When my daughters were younger and fought, we would have "heart checks". Warning, this does take a lot of time and patience on your part, but the rewards (atleast for us) were well worth it. A very short explaination of the process would be for each girl to identify what she did that was inappropriate, how it made her heart feel, and what she will do differently next time. (We explained that we have a connection to God through our hearts, and one way to know if we're being the best person we can be is by doing heart checks. If our heart is happy, we're making good choices. If it's sad, we're not making good choices and need to change our behavior to make good choices.) It's important she only discuss what her inappropriate actions were. That way each is taking responsibility for their actions and not getting into the blame game. (Even difficult to do as adults!) The other rule is they HAVE to respect each other's turn to talk. NO interrupting. The adult's role is to guide the child to identify her feelings and redirect when they begin to blame or argue. Once each has worked through the process, we closed the deal by each apologizing to the other for that specific action, "I'm sorry I hid your stuffed puppy. I'll try to not do it again." I never made my kids hug each other, but I always told each how proud I was of them and hugged each one. Like I said, this takes a lot of time, especially in the beginning. My daughters are 2 years apart and were less than 4 years old when I started it with them. Sorry to ramble...it worked for us and is just a suggestion.

1 mom found this helpful

I have a simple solution to this at my house... kids who can't play nicely together must work together. I've had them rake the dog pen, clean out trash cans, and pull weeds. I can't think of any other chore I've had to try, they decided after dog doo they would play nicely or just leave eachother alone. I also strongly believe each kid should have a place to retreat to that no other kids are allowed in, it can be a room, a shady tree, or even a small closet with a lamp and some books... sometimes we all just need a little privacy.

Before I was married and had children I watched my dear friend work her "magic" on her two boys. They were then about the same ag as your girls. I use the same tactic on my children, now 6+ and 2 1/2.

When the tone becomes hurtful (not playful) first I don't intervene - most of often they will work it out better if I let them, but I turn a mother's ear to the situation so it doesn't become one sided.

Second, if I have to intervene I remind them both that "some day Mommy and Daddy won't be here to help them work through things" and they need to find a way to work it out. "If it can't b resolved quickly I will [take away the toy]; [put you in opposite chairs], [consequences]

Third I look at the example I'm providing for them. Have my husband and I had too many discussions in front of them that they might persevere as fighting. Am I being the role model that I want them to emulate?

As the mother of 9 year old twins, I truly feel your pain! They are constantly arguing. For my peace of mind, I have started sending them to their rooms for "time out to think". Usually after a little while, they are more than happy to get along for awhile anyway. Another things I have done is make them stand in the middle of the living room nose to nose holding each other. Usually after a few minutes, it turns to giggles and laughter, rather than fighting and fit throwing. I don't know if your girls have their own room, but it is also good for them to have their own space (even if only in the corner of the living room and the other the bedroom) so that they can go there and no one will bother them. Sometimes, kids just need space like you and me. When all else fails, get out the water hose, put them in the backyard, and let them have at it!

I'm a mom to an 11 yr old girl and 3 boys ages 9, 6, and 3. In the summers I have my neice who is 10. My 9 yr old and my neice fight alot, my 11 yr old and 9 yr old fight a bit, the 9 yr old and 6 yr old fight, and the 6 yr old and 3 yr old fight. It's pretty much always paired up that way.

I used to be a talker, and intervening all the time when there was an a issue -but all that did was teach my kids that it's MY job to solve all their problems, and took away their personal accountability for the situation.

If it's a matter of hitting, whoever hit loses a priveledge, no discussion, it's just that way. For name calling, they have to write the name 50-100 times (depends ont he name) before they do anything else.

But for the constant arguing and whiny battles - I make my kids clean! When they cannot get along, I pick a room, and tell them to go clean it TOGETHER. I used to send them to their rooms, but all that did was teach them they can run away from and ignore their problem. Now what they are learning is cooperation, they must get the room cleaned, must get it done together, and must be nice. If they continue to argue, they get anotehr room. I feel that it teaches them to get along, to not aruge about the petty things, and frankly they get sick adn tired of cleaning REAL quick! So far, this has been the most effective "behavior modification" in our home, plus my house is cleaner :)

My mother did the cleaning thing when we were that age. She always had a list of chores she never could get to...I particularly remember that my brother and I had to clean every baseboard in the house with a couple of old toothbrushes, starting together and ending in the middle of each room (this was also part of the summer, "Mom, I'm bored!" solution.) Needless to say, we learned to solve some of our own problems and only ask Mom for help when it was really necessary.

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