Sibling conflict
Preschool,  School Age

Steps For Managing Sibling Conflict

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With multiple siblings especially the ones closer in age, there will always be opportunities for sibling conflict and rivalry. Whether there is a fight for a toy, or sharing the same space, you can expect a challenge with behavioral issues that may arise as a result.

Sibling conflict can happen for many reasons. One of the major reasons can be because of frustration or anger when things don’t go the way that a child wants them to. Many times children may fight if they do not know ways to handle conflict or in some cases express their emotions.

What can we do as parents, however, to lessen the effect or the possibility of aggression that can result from it?

I have provided some tips that I have used on my kids that can help you to understand and better manage sibling conflicts.

Are you currently struggling with sibling conflict or have some suggestions to add? Please feel free to add to my list, or ask your questions or concerns below. I would be happy to help you!

Getting your childs attention is the way we give instructions.”

Here are 7 steps that you can follow to manage sibling conflict. Remember it will take a little time and much-needed effort on your part as a parent to implement. However, after implementing these steps, the journey will become much easier.

1. Get your child’s attention

This is important to first and foremost get their attention. They have to be aware that you are present and will be helping them to correct the unpleasant behavior.

Remain calm when you do this and try not to stand over your child but remain at eye level as much as possible so that they can understand and acknowledge your presence.

2. Briefly and calmly say what the problem is

Remember to keep as calm as possible. Yelling can sometimes reinforce negative behavior. Speak to them in a calm tone of voice about what the problem is.

For example, if John hits Sarah with a toy, then as the parent your response would be: “John we do not hit others with our toys when we are upset that Sarah doesn’t want to give her toy to you.”

3. Say why it is a problem

Saying why it is a problem is explaining to your child the reason they are being spoken to. When we don’t let them know why hitting for example is a problem it does not offer an opportunity for them to learn other ways to solve conflict.

They have to be aware of what the issue is so that they can help to choose another appropriate behavior response.

For example: “John when we hit Sarah with the toy it can cause harm to her and it does not solve anything.”

4. ask them what they should do instead

Asking your child the next step in resolving their conflict gives you as a parent the opportunity to help them state the rules about how they should behave. If they can’t remember, then reinforce the rules at this point.

For example: “John and Sarah what is the right thing to do here in this situation?” “Yes John, you can ask Sarah for the toy nicely instead of throwing it at her.” (You can also use picture cards that have several examples of sharing toys, that you can use as a visual aid as well for them to point out the correct behavior.)

5. have your child practice it

Practicing what you should have done instead further teaches and reinforces positive behavior. This is a crucial part because not only do they get to role-play the expected behavior, but it also helps them to fully understand the situation.

For example: “John and Sarah, let’s practice now on your own what you should do instead.”

6. Praise your child for doing the right thing

In addition, after practicing the correct behavior, praise them for asking nicely and responding politely. You can also implement a rewards system which is optional if they have cooperated with the process of solving the conflict themselves.

For Example: “Good job John and Sarah, you have done a terrific job of showing mom how you asked Sarah politely for the toy. Also because you asked Sarah for the toy nicely, you can both get to play together for an additional 10 minutes.”

7. If the problem continues…

If the problem continues, repeat the consequence for a longer time or use quiet time to ensure not only that your rules are being implemented, but that they are being taken seriously.

Tips for the two and under age groups

For younger children under the age of two, since they are limited in their approach to understanding the situation, it is ok to demonstrate to them by using your hands to direct/lead them in the correct way to respond. The earlier you start with this age group, the better they will become anyway later in the journey.

Overall these tips and tricks can help you to screen and change certain behaviors that are unpleasant by implementing new ways to remove such behaviors from occurring in the future.

Rather than always being the referee in every conflict, helping them solve their own problems will not only help them to follow your rule now, but long term will prepare them for every stage of life from childhood to the teenage years to adulthood.

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Did you find the strategies listed in this article helpful? What were some of your favorite tips? How have they worked for you? Leave a comment below, I’d love to know what you think.

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I am Donae! A wife and a mom of 2 kids, ALL boys! I would love to share with you my experience with motherhood. Let my life Inspire, Encourage and Motivate you on your journey through motherhood.

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