Updated on July 23, 2008
B.Z. asks from Jenison, MI
6 answers

Hi, My kids are 5,3 &2. I know it is normal to have siblings fight, but they seem to be doing a lot of it lately. For their age, what has worked to lessen the fighting. I do time outs right now, but they come out ready to fight again!

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answers from Detroit on

Dear B.,

It would be helpful to have a little more information about the "fighting". Do you mean like yelling/screaming/slamming doors?? Or World Wrestling Federation style fighting??

I have 4 kids (10, 6,4, and 8 months) and at our house we have a zero tolerance policy to putting our hands on each other when we are angry. 2 things my kids are told is that 1. we were given hands, feet and words to help each other.. not to hurt each other and 2. we are going to be brothers and sisters forever so we have to get along. And if it is not crystal clear that one child is 100 percent in the wrong.. both children are given time outs. At the end of the time out we sit down with the children who have been fighting and ask them if they know why the received a time out. (Sometimes they don't and we have to remind them.) Then we remind them that our hands, feet and words are to help people not to hurt.. and that they need to tell each other their are sorry, and give a hug.

Now if they are tattling and whining.. that can be a whole different situation.

It also helps in the summertime to make sure they are still getting enough sleep and down time... sometimes because of the nice weather they are just getting more tired and thus more crankey with each other. Also sometimes the heat can cause them to not treat each other as they should... so just kind of be aware of these other things that could be affecting their dispositions!

Hope this wasn't to long and it was helpful!
Good luck to you!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

get and read the book, Siblings Without Rivalry by Elaine Mazlish and Adele Faber. Great ideas that work!!!

Time outs aren't going to help them resolve their feelings towards each other. They need to be taught conflict resolution skills and how to manage their feelings through communicating in a non-violent manner. This book will guide you in helping them hone these skills.



answers from Detroit on

I hand out group time outs (which at my house start at 5 min, don't begin being timed until you're quiet, and get 5 min. added everytime you talk, try to get down, throw something, or gesture rudely) which at the very least buys me some quiet time to recollect my wits!

I tried handing out chores when they were in trouble, but due to the already bad attitudes, and reluctancy to do the work, they just ended up being a long arduous punishment for me to make sure it got done properly. I still randomly assign chores, but not when they are in trouble.

Also, we LOVE to ground from video games, Pokemon or Yugi-oh cards, and from going outside to play with friends. Usually by a day the first time, maybe one or two more days the second time, and I start adding in larger increments if i have to talk to them more times than that.

My kids are going through a bad streak right now since the oldest 4 came home from thier dad's the other day. All they've done is bicker for 2 and a half days now! So I understand your frusteration! Good thing we have a lot of seating downstairs so everyone can have a seperate couch or chair, cause I've sure needed them the last few days! If it ever dries up today, I'm sending them outside to run off some energy. I think maybe they've just got too much pent up energy or something due to all the rain and family things we've had going on.



answers from Grand Rapids on

I have 5 boys ages 12 10 7 5 and 17 months. What I've done when they get to bickering and fighting is if they can't work things out by being cooperative and agreeable, I put them to work.
They have regular chores to do every day and once those are done and they are still fighting, I start giving out additional chores. For the ages of your children I would say maybe something like dusting or picking up a room, or even helping fold some laundry like towels and washclothes.
I started doing this when my oldest two were around 5 and 3. At first its almost a novelty they like being with mom and helping out but let me tell you it gets old for them fairly quickly. After a little bit all you will need to do is mention that you have some extra chores that need to be done and it should calm things down a bit.
Hope this helps, I know I don't like to listen to it either!



answers from Tampa on

As Dr Phil says: Appeal to their greed...I have a 4 and 5 yr old, they also have those times. I take away toys, starting with their favorite. I first give a warning and sometimes even name the toy I will be taking. That usually works right away, now. At first though, they didn't get it until they saw me walk into their rooms and take one out and put it on top of the fridge. Once they calm down from the initial shock of loosing a toy, oh and pick a favorite one, I calmly get down to their level to explain how to earn back their toys...1. If they do something the very first time I ask them to, they can earn one back 2. If I just catch them being nice or having a good day, I'll tell them how much I love those moments, give hugs and offer for them to pick a toy that they earned back. You'll have to explain these rules a few times, but they will catch on fast...I mean, it's their toys we are talking about here!...they pay attention. oh and don't worry when at first you have like ten toys spread out on top of your fridge or counter...
Good luck. I'm curious to hear how this works for you, if you try.



answers from Grand Rapids on

I agree with Terri. We hand out chores as well. We remove privileges and even make them "nap" or at least read on their bed for an hour. It grates on your nerves so quickly!! The quiet is time is good for the kids and great for mom too.


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