February 08, 2009,
D.P. asks from Saint Louis, MO on February 04, 2009
Seeking Advice on How to Deal with Fighting Siblings
Okay, I have had it up to you know where with the constant bickering and fighting that goes on between my two children. The oldest is a boy who is 11 1/2, the other is a girl who is 10. They can not be in the same room for more than a minute without fighting, bickering, etc. They invent things to fight about. One time they argued over who had been across the Poplar Street bridge more. I can't stand it anymore. I have tried taking away priviledges, I always yell (I know, not good, but very hard to stop), I've tried making them sit on the couch together, I have tired everything. PLEASE HELP. Any advice will be appreciated.
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J.A. answers from Kansas City on February 05, 2009
When my sister's kids bicker, she gives them a teamwork lesson. She hands out baby wipes and they have to clean all the baseboards, or she gives them some grocery sacks and they have to pick up all the dog poo in the yard, etc. When the chore is done, they have a talk about teamwork, family, etc. Plus, her baseboards are clean. Ha!
N.F. answers from St. Louis on February 05, 2009
Having raised three daughters I can tell you the fighting is normal! There are no magic tricks to get it to stop, but I might suggest a couple of things for you to try.
First - when the girls were teenagers I too "yelled", but one day it came to me that when I got quiet - they got worried! It took a lot of practice to be able to "remove" myself from that habit but eventually I found I was not yelling anymore! It seemed when I yelled, the more I yelled the less they heard! Even if you have to put yourself in "timeout" in say your bedroom, sometimes you will just need to walkaway and compose yourself, BEFORE you deal with them.
Second - you can not stop all the bickering - but try adding a new twist on the old "sit them on a couch together" - make them hold hands and look at each other - not being able to "say a word". My girls HATED doing this, but I would quietly watch them from another room - the first thing they always did was stick their tongues out at each other, then inevitably one would try squeezing the other ones hand as hard as they could, so naturally the other one squeezes back - eventually this always ended up in a round of laughter and after making them tell each other they were sorry - they were off and best friends until the next time.
Third - do what your children do - elect to use your selective hearing and let them bicker. As long as they are not doing physical harm to each other - they are really just trying to find their places. Also if they were always close and the oldest one is growing up some and moving away from his little sis and finding other interests she may be feeling somewhat left out and doesn't know how to get his attention! Watch quietly to see who "starts it" you may be surprised at what you see.
Good luck - they will "outgrow" most of the bickering - but the other day I threatened to put a 23 and 27 year old on the sofa if they didn't "knock it off"!
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R.M. answers from Topeka on February 05, 2009
Oh D....I have been in your shoes!!! And I am guilty of the SAME thing you are...yelling!!! Children are like little sponges...they absorb the world around them and then just spit it back out.
How can you...an adult...expect them to get control of themselves when you dont have control of yourself??? I do not mean to sound harsh...or judgmental, as I said, I have been where you are!!
I think your first step needs to be a family meeting...everyone involved...everyone calm and rational and willing to listen...as well as speak. ( Not as easy as it sounds I know!!) If the children are in on the "solution" maybe they will be more willing to go along with whatever you jointly decide on.
You have the really hard work...you need to learn NOT to yell...not to become upset or agitated...don't let them "pull your chain". Somehow you need to find a way to quietly separate them when they start fussing at each other...come up with a "code word or phrase" that they agree on that signals them that things are getting out of control. You need to be the model for the behavior that you want to see in your children.
Think about how you teach someone ANYTHING...from penmanship to swimming strokes...you give them a model to follow....and they imitate it until it becomes second nature.
I wish I had some really great words of wisdom for you...I think what you might do is look for a friend who's children behave in a loving way towards each other and ask them HOW they got there!!!!
Good luck...and hang in there...my 3 girls fought like cats and dogs when they were growing up but now that they are adults...they all get along famously!!! You WILL survive this...I promise!!!
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K.B. answers from Wichita on February 05, 2009
Good Morning D.! Laughing You had a Instruction Book? WOW I missed that one. Dang!! *Wink Wink*
Kids fight all the time and it is usually about nothing at all. Our son's are 27 months apart and they fought like two dogs after a bone. For a long time I would separate them make them go to different rooms. After a short time they usually found a way to get back together, play again then start all over with the snipping & snapping.
I had them write good things about each other.
Also had to put down what made them angry. *That one kind of backfired as they then Knew for sure what they could do to get the others goat*
When they started getting allowance, if they started fighting again( which ever one started it) had to give the other 25 cents from their allowance. If I couldn't determine who started what, both had to give me 25 cents.
One day I think I got a couple of bucks....lol
As long as they didn't hit, bite, cause bodily harm, A lot of the time I let um have it out. IN a room other then where I was, cause I told them they didn't hear Mom & Dad argue so I didn't want to hear them either. They got tired of it after a few minutes and went to play again.
They are 34 & 32 Now with kids of their own who snip and snap at each other. LOL
If you can get them to do their bickering in a different room let um do it. When it gets loud enough for you to hear, step in and tell them you don't want to hear it, so keep it down and carry on.. Will be amazed how soon it might stop. The shock factor that you are letting them bicker might be enough * for that time* for them to stop.
Our boys get along great, they still argue about who can do what better then the other, but you know if push came to shove they would stand up for the other in a heart beat.
God Bless you D., all else fails get Hair dye to cover the gray...;)
K. Nana of 5
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J.H. answers from St. Louis on February 05, 2009
Well, since my two boys are only 2 years old and 6 months old, I can't exactly give you advice on what "I do", but I CAN tell you that my sisters and I faught like that growing up and now all three of us are as close as can be. I wish I had some advice to give you b/c I know kids can drive you bonkers! Just be sure to take some time for yourself everyday. Your kids are old enough to handle some situations themselves it would seem to me, while you step out of the situation.
D.R. answers from St. Louis on February 05, 2009
The good news is, they DO grow up!!! I have 3 sons, and we went through a rough spot when they couldn't talk without argueing. I was like you, I just couldn't take it any more. So, I made a rule, in my presence you could only say good things to each other. If you had issues to argue about, it had to be in your own room, away from me. Of course, that took all the fun out of it, if they didn't have an audience, what's the use of arguing??? Soon, the fussing stopped, of course other things took it's place, that's all part of growing up. But, at least I didn't have to listen to it!!! They are now grown, the oldest is an electrical engineer, the 2nd is a systems analyst for a communications company, and the youngest has his doctorate in computer science. I'm sure they all did well on their college debate teams, they had lots of practice at home!! Keep you sense of humor, don't become the audience to the discussions, give it a few years. Good luck, D.
J.L. answers from Springfield on February 05, 2009
Make them work it out themselves...calmly. If they get out of control seperate them (send them to their rooms or seperate parts of the house). Tell them they have a right to disagree, but that they can not be disrespectful of each others feelings or property. If they refuse to get along, don't let them talk to each other at all... Under any circumstances... They will start to realize that they do need their sibling sometimes... Don't allow "Can you help me...?" questions or anything until they decide they can get along somewhat peacefully. DEMAND that they settle problems calmly, and try to avoid yelling yourself (okay, this doesn't always work, but it does help). I have four kids and the two middle ones can't be in the same room together without some kind of issue...I feel your pain...BUT I can tell you on the positive side of this...My sister and I fought ALL THE TIME and our parents thought we literally hated each other and always would...She is 34 and I'm 37 now and we are the best of friends and have been since becoming parents ourselves... Does it make the constant fighting easier to take? No not at the time, but it might help you sleep to know it's possible they will some day be friends... Good luck.
R.F. answers from St. Joseph on February 05, 2009
Leave the room and let them fight. They probably won't find it near as much "fun" if they are not getting to you. I've used this myself on my two boys and you will be surprised at how fast the fighting ended when I left the room and let them have at it. As long as it doen't get physical they need to learn how to get along with out your help.
S.H. answers from St. Louis on February 05, 2009
after reading all of the responses....here's my thoughts: aren't you glad your children are normal??? & mine & my sisters & my best friends' kids!!
So, this is a universal thing...gee, aren't we lucky!
My Mom had some really horrible solutions to this problem: we had to use Qtips to clean my Dad's mini ship collection, we had to sit in corners (even as teens), we had to completely gut the bookcases/dust/& restock, & WORST of all - if we were being particularly hateful/disrespectful -then we had to kiss/hug each other. It was GROSS...until my sister & I figured out how to turn it into a comedy act, which then diffused our Mom's means of punishment!
BUT, after each punishment/time-out, then she always addressed our behavior & made us say something nice about each other. We still tease her about her inhumane punishment....meaning having to kiss each other.
With 9 years between our sons, we've been fortunate to avoid most of the bickering. My sister, on the other hand, deals with this daily with her 12 y.o daughter & 16 y.o. son. They are truly hateful & atrocious & have no qualms about performing in front of friends/family. So, I'm passing these ideas on to my sis!