My Daughters Fight Constantly

Updated on November 09, 2010
M.F. asks from Groves, TX
16 answers

My daughters, ages 7 and 10 fight all the time. It almost always end up them hurting each other before I even know its happening. They constantly yell at each other and one will hit the other first and then the other hits back (usually harder than the first one) and it makes it hard to know how to discipline them. I've tried everything I can think of. Usually, the one is comes to me crying is the one who hit first and is crying because they got hit back. Tellling them if that if they get hit to come tell me instead of hit back (so I know who to punish)does not work for 2 reasons, they have been told not to "tattle" by their father, who seems to think that "tattle-tells" are UNACCEPTABLE. PERIOD. And, even if they did that at just at home (and not when they go to their dads)it doesn't work because they both have TERRIBLE (USUALLY QUICK) TEMPERS!! I was an only child so I know nothing about sibling rivalry, but everyone I've asked says it is normal. Normal or not, it is a constant source of stress for me. I end up trying to yell loud enough to be louder than their yelling at each other. And, being a single mom with a full time job,this constant stress from their fighting and arguing wears me out. It results in all three of us being unhappy alot of the time. That is not how I want them to grow up. Any suggestions, similar experiences, "light at the end of the tunnel" that anyone could offer would be greatly appreciated.

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answers from Little Rock on

I am one of 3 girls in my family. We all fought like cats and dogs. I look back and realize it was to get attention. I always thought my older sisters were getting all of the attention. Have you tried to set about seperate special time with each girl? That might help. My dad used to scream at us constantly and that just made up get louder. My sisters and I am really close now. It seems we hated each other when we were all in the same place. Something else that I did when I worked at a daycare was I would reward them for being good. You could always do some kind of chart or something and at the end of the week they get to do something special or get something special if they have behaved all week.

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answers from College Station on

It is normal and there will be times that you just have to let them work it out. But you can teach them how to get along better. For starters, regardless of "who starts it", they both get the same punishment or reprimanding. It takes two to fight, anyone involved is responsible. You have to figure out what that punishment will be, something like a privelidge taken away or making them do an extra chore or something. Whatever works. Maybe you should consider sitting them down together and having a good talk about what it means to be a family and how you expect them to treat each other. You can tell them that no longer will you tolerate them being ugly to one another. Be specific, give examples such as there will be no name-calling, no yelling, no door slamming. Solicit their input on the rules — as well as the consequences when they break them. This teaches kids that they're responsible for their own actions, regardless of the situation or how provoked they felt, and discourages any attempts to negotiate regarding who was "right" or "wrong."
Another thing you can try when they are in a heated arguement is to separate them until they both have calmed. Also, when your own fuse is getting short, consider handing the reins over to the other parent, whose patience may be greater at that moment.
Don't let kids make you think that everything always has to be "fair" and "equal" — sometimes one kid needs more than the other.
Be proactive in giving your kids one-on-one attention directed to their interests and needs. For example, if one likes to go outdoors, take a walk or go to the park. If another child likes to sit and read, make time for that too.
Make sure kids have their own space and time to do their own thing — to play with toys by themselves, to play with friends without a sibling tagging along, or to enjoy activities without having to share 50-50.
Have fun together as a family. Whether you're watching a movie, throwing a ball, or playing a board game, you're establishing a peaceful way for your kids to spend time together and relate to each other. This can help ease tensions between them and also keeps you involved. Since parental attention is something many kids fight over, fun family activities can help reduce conflict.
If your children frequently squabble over the same things (such as video games or dibs on the TV remote), post a schedule showing which child "owns" that item at what times during the week. (But if they keep fighting about it, take the "prize" away altogether.)
Consider establishing a program where the kids earn points toward a fun family-oriented activity when they work together to stop battling.
Good luck and I hope this helps. Another thing, my mom used to make us hug and tell each other we love each other.



answers from Beaumont on

Hi M., I am new to this site but feel your pain about the sibling rivalry. I have 2 boys but it is the same thing at times. The thing I had to do is separate them when I can so they have their own space. Since mine share a bedroom right now, I have them doing other things in the house almost constantly. When they are at their dad's house, they have a whole different way of dealing with my kids too.
U just need to take a deep breath and realize that it is going to be ok. With shared custody... it seems that the kids are always together. I realized a while back that ... they were in the same school. Rode the same bus. Shared a room at my house AND their dad's house. As our councelor said... "Mom, you are safe!" They know that mom will always love them even when they are doing something wrong. They will sometimes be more forth comming with outbursts in front of moms than dads because of this. They are most likely frustrated on some level by not being able to control anything in their lives and are ready to start to be more individual. I taught my kids how to do some cooking and now on Saturday morning... they wait till I am awake and they cook everyone breakfast. They know with this they have to work together and clean up as well. I couldnt believe how well it worked. I also have them doing different chores every nite that require them to be separated to some degree... Instead of both of them cleaning their room. One has to help with the kitchen and the other with the room, ect. I don't know if this helps or not... but would love to chat some more.



answers from Little Rock on

I can promise you, everything will be alright. Me and my sister did the exact same thing until she was a senior. And the age difference was the same also. The only difference is, she used to really hurt me... like bust my head open on the porcelain bathtub or throw me into mirrors and many other things. They will be fine. I will say this also, I don't know exactly how you should deal with it but as for me an my sister( who happens to be my best friend now) when one of us got in trouble, it only made us mad at the other person for telling and getting them back for it that much worse worse. They will get over it and in the mean time, try not to let it stress you out!



answers from Little Rock on

I had a similar problem with my 7 year old step son hitting my 6 year old daughter. He would hit, kick, punch, squeeze, or push her down several times a day. I was very worried about her because we have full custody of him due to his mother's own behavioral issues. I finally found a way to punish him that worked. I would give him one warning and any time he was aggressive after that he would take a bath and spend the rest of the night in his room. He could not watch tv or play video games he could only read or do art projects. A few weeks into this his reactions were changing. I taught him to count to ten if he was angry with her and then come find me to tell me what she did. If she ever was to hit back, they would both go to their room for time outs. If they argued I added time to the timeouts. They still fight all the time (my husband says that's just the way brothers and sisters are) but they deal with it a little better and it usually does not get physical. It was hard to make him eat dinner in his room and not get to be with the rest of the family for the night, but it worked.



answers from Texarkana on

Do they understand that because of the situation, there has to be two sets of rules---one for your home, and one for their father's? It's like when my kids would have friends over, and I would have to say, "Well, that might be acceptable at your house, but here, we do things differently." I agree with not raising a tattle-tale, BUT, when it comes down to physical violence or danger, and so on-----it's reaching out for help, not tattling. The girls have to know that it's safe to go to Mom to settle a problem. Yes, unfortunately, sibling rivalry is normal-but in this case, it sounds like it has gotten out of control. I had a brother, and we fought and argued quite often. Maybe it is because it draws more attention from the parent to the point that they have no choice but to pay attention, even if it is negative. My Mom kept her head in a book a lot, and even when we would try to talk to her, there were many times when she would respond and not even look up. We wanted "undivided" attention. I've had to fight this myself, it's sad to say, but thankfully it didn't cause a problem that made my own kids fight. Also, it only fuels their fire if they can draw you into the scene and get a reaction. I think you need somewhere to vent, some "alone" time for yourself to draw strength (even just a few minutes a day when you can say-this is my time, and I'll give you attention when it's over and not until then). I hope this has helped somewhat. Is it an option for you to check out a book at the local library on children of divorce or sibling rivalry? Maybe find some books that would be on their level about the same stuff?



answers from Fayetteville on

My children are boy and girl and are 8 and 5. They do not constantly physically fight although my son has some serious behavioural problems and sometimes will hit or pretend he's going to choke his sister and she will hit him while angry or push his buttons until he cannot control himself. One thing I would like to reccommend is a book called "1-2-3 Magic" by Dr. Thomas Phelan. When I started using his method it worked pretty well for my children although I got too comfortable and stopped using it. What it did was give them a chance to control themselves before hitting. Of course, if it starts with a hit with no warning, it may be harder but I did also make sure my son and daughter understood that violence, whether hitting or acting like they were going to was an automatic 10 minute time out. It does help when I am consistent. It is always hard work since there are two homes and two sets of rules but whatever you use, if you are consistant with yours, the girls will know what you expect when they are home and although they may push it for a few hours or even days when they get back from their Dad's, if you are consistent it will be a continual reminder for them. And as several others have suggested, try to have family time playing games, etc. This is good time in the beginning for practice using your new methods and once they work well, it's a wonderful time for building family ties for all of you. I also agree with spending a few minutes a day with each of your girls so they each get your attention daily as long as it's something they enjoy. My son & I used to lay on my bed together for 10 minutes and watch cartoons every afternoon and it was really good for both of us. We could talk when a commercial came on or he could point out things in the cartoon he thought was funny. Sometimes he wanted us to catch grasshoppers which mostly consisted of me following him around for 10 minutes and listening to him explain how he was going to catch a particular grasshopper. It's also a good way for us parents to learn a little more about our kids. Good Luck with all!



answers from Fort Myers on

Well Im the oldest of the three daughters, im 31 my younger sister is 28 and the youngest is 25. We faught all the time. We only did it to get attention, when one is not getting the attention they want, they pick a fight to get that attention. Sometimes our friend call us the kardashian sisters because we are so close but we dont see eye to eye all the time. So yes it is completely normal. I hate to say this but it gets worse with age. Hope that helped.



answers from Dallas on

I have read a few good ideas. Ask both of them to get something special of theirs. You tell them that they are to watch, protect, and take care of their sister's item for a week. After a week, if they have done this, they can have a treat. Make the treat something they like, but have to do together, like make chocolate sundays or something together. Also have them help each other. If one is good in math, privately tell her that her sister is needing some help with math. Tell her that you know how good she is at math, but that her sister might not want help. So ask her to see if she can find a way to help her sister where her sister doesn't really notice. This will get her looking for times to help her sister. Do the same for the other sister. Just find ways that they can appreciate the other. Make it worth their while to help their sister. Or anothr idea is to give each of them a sticker chart, jar of marbles, or what ever, and tell them to catch their sister doing something good. Everytime they do, they tell you and you reward them with a sticker/marble. After so many, they get a treat.
Hope this helps,



answers from Baton Rouge on

Well, my sister and I fought constantly!!!! And it was a HUGE stress for my Mom... my Dad would let us fight it out until one or both of us was bleeding. By the time we got into HS we were best of friends (and still are)... but still had knock down drag out (punching) fights even through college because: 1) Your supposed to kick your sister's @ss 2) We were together all of the time and got on each other's nerves and 3) You just know that eventually your sister will forgive you.... sounds peachy and normal right???!!
Well, I have three daughters(10,9 and 3)... the oldest two are 16 months apart.
So... the two oldest FIGHT CONSTANTLY AND I WANT TO KILL THEM! You can sit around all day saying stupid things like: Your sister was your first best friend and you should love each other.... blah, blah, blah!!!! It's pointless... they are sisters, they do love each other, BUT they most likely get on each other's nerves and unfortunately KNOW exactly what to say to the other one to tick them off and/or hurt them the most. Heck... mine do it to each other just because they are BORED!
The only time I have peace in the house is when I separate them. At first that was very hard because they shared a room.. now that they each have their own room... it is much better. I don't even ask questions anymore... I don't care who started it... I don't care who said what... or even who hit who (unless someone is bleeding)... I just tell them both to go to their rooms and I don't want to see or hear them until they can act like decent human beings!!!!
But you know what... and you probably see this with yours... if anyone at school or in the neighborhood picks on them... that is their @ss... the other one does not hesitate to defend them... after all that is what sister's are for!!!
Hope that helps.... Oh... one other thing... my Dad use to 'tie' us together (opposite of separating,haha) and make us do chores while we were together... we HAD to get along in order to get it done... if not... out came the belt. Can't do that anymore... someone might call CPS!!!
Good luck!!!



answers from Little Rock on

You and my best friend seem to have something in common. This too shall pass. I sat them down (they are my Goddaughters) and talked with them about how their hard their Mom works to provide for them and how hurtful it is for her to hear them being awful to each other because they are all she's got and about how someday hopefully a long time from now, they would be the only family each other had. It did give them some perspective for that weekend. God Bless you and your girls.



answers from Tyler on

I wish there was a chill pill for your daughters behavior.
My only advise is for all you three take a nice vacation or a weekend project or even play a game where you'll have to depend on each other to win a game or accomplish a task. Let'em see the importance of working or having fun as a team supporing and encouraging each other!
Both your daughters just need to realize that they are equally precious, sensitive and important, and you're only ONE mom.
Also, a rule of thumb, Do NOT allow name calling for any reason whatsoever. When if it gets too much, give each a time out. Make them put into writting their frustration. When they calm down make them right all the positives attibutes they think they pocessed and what attributes the other sister has, and then as a wise mother highlight the positive about each other........then tell them "that's why I don't understand your behavior at times and makes me sad, and the "fighting" wares me out." Tell them "what do you want me to do to stop the fighting" (make them write it!!). When they grow up and have their own children (give their advise back to them, so) they too can share motherhood experience with themselves and pat themselves on the back!
Most importantly, This too shall pass!



answers from Lafayette on


I feel your pain! My oldest son and middle son used to fight constantly; they literally seemed to hate each other. It didnt help that one is bipolar and the other was ADHD. It got to be even worse when I left my ex husband. I had to get between their fist fights and it wasn't fun. The psychiatrist told me not to do that agin to let them fight because I'd end up getting hurting, I couldnt just let it go on though. He also told me that once they turned 17-18 they'd be best friends, well what if I dont live that long! Like someone else said outside of that if another kid picked on one of them they'd run to each other defense. What I would do is..we would have family night and play games or even volleyball things in the yard, I'd make them be on the same team, that way they had to work together to win. I would make them sit in the living room together, TV off until they apologized to each other. It wasn't until my oldest son suffered a brain injury that they finally started to get along, so Im not much help as far as what really works getting them to become the best of friends. But maybe during family time or games or something getting them to work at something as a team might help some. If they have to work together to win or finish something it may actually be a step to getting along. Good Luck



answers from Houston on

My ex in laws had this same exact problem. And it was bad. I can tell you horror stories about the fights. Now maybe the only difference was that 1 of them was the one who always was meaner!! They would lock each other out of the house. lock each other in the garage. Hit yell cry scream. I seen some bad stuff. This is what finally got it to stop.
1. Set specific rules! when they fought no matter who started it. They took a specific time out. She usually had them sit in seperate room and went in and talked to each of them seperately.
2. Offer alot of praise when they are not fighting and getting along. Maybe say 2 times a month if they can get along maybe take them somewhere.
3. She sat and told each of them how to deal with being angry. Other avenues if you may of expressing anger.
4. She told me 1 time a week they had to do something as a team together, like a chore.
5. SHe printed some articles off the internet about sisters fighting and read them to both girls.
6 They both have ther own spaces. One in which is off limits to the other. So that way they have something that is THEIRS!!

I have seen a 100% turn around. Now they still argue but it is amazing to see 2 young ladies work this out and not hurt one another. And they respect each other fully.
I hope that if you try any of this, it will work.




answers from Beaumont on

I have two step-daughters who were 9 & 11 when I came into the picture. They are now 12 & 14 and they fight constantly! I've come up with some creative ways to punish them. I've made them hold hands for up to 30 minutes while in time out. I've made them run laps around the block to get out there aggression. I've taken computer and/or phone privledges away. I've threatened make them take a bubble bath together or to post horrible pics of them such as when they are sleeping or -gasp- have no make up on and post them on their my space pages (I have both their passwords...). Anything "stupid" that makes them mad at me usually bonds them together. We use a lot of time outs but I haven't found any miracle fix it yet.



answers from Alexandria on

Tell them that they can't do something that they absolutely really want to do the very next time that they argue and you have to stick to it. They have to know you are in control. Let them know how childish it is to continue to fight each other. Try to find out why they are doing this to each other and let them know that it won't be tolerated any longer. Best of luck and may God bless you...they must learn to be kind to one another and to have peace in their home and especially to respect their mother and let you have peace at home.

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