Friday, 21 March 2014

Squabbling siblings

If you have two or more children, chances are they spend their time together either getting along famously or at each other's throats! It's wonderful when they get along, either playing together or contentedly playing alongside one another. When they snatch, fight, scream at each other and one or both ends in tears, it can be stressful for the whole family.

My two children are aged two and five. It's a tricky stage. The five year old is pretty good at sharing and taking turns. He is for the most part patient and giving. The two year old is at the age where sharing is not yet really understood so if she wants something, she will take it and not give it back without a struggle. You can therefore imagine the kinds of scenes that unfold in our household!

Then there is the physical aspect to their squabbling. My daughter regularly tackles her big brother down to the floor in a fun, playful way so when she is not being playful, she is not afraid to push or worse! Until quite recently, our son would never push her back or inflict any physical actions towards her. He would probably just come and tell my husband and I what his sister had done to him. However, of late that has changed and he now will push her back or be a little too rough with her for my liking. Who can blame him on the one hand? On the other hand, he is a big five year old, she is still a little two year old.

I think back to my own childhood and remember quite regular physical fights with one of my brothers, even though there was a big age gap and I was the youngest! He was the same brother I was closest to growing up though, so I also remember many fond times together. Our physical fights were soon diffused and forgotten and never had any lasting impact.

So then I think, I should not worry too much about my own children getting into little fights. It's all part of growing up, asserting oneself in one's own individual way, learning how to manage one's behaviour in frustrating situations and essentially, learning how to deal with conflict. As much as I can, I try to stay out of my children's squabbles and if my son comes to complain about something that his sister has done, I try to encourage him to come up with a way to deal with it, rather than getting involved too much myself.

Currently, that does not work very well and the situation rarely gets resolved without tears or shouting but I am hoping that with some perseverance, over time, both children will find their own ways of handling their differences and disagreements.

What is your experience of squabbling siblings? Do you intervene much and try to manage their behaviour and reactions or do you step back and let them get on with it? Do your children go through phases of getting on better or worse with one another? I would be very interested to hear your experiences in the comments!
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  1. My daughter is the eldest so the dynamics of fights were a bit different from having a stronger and older brother. I did like you and stayed out of their way as much as possible. In case of trouble I would do this: 1) separate them. 2) listen to what each had to say (even the little one) and show them you understand by repeating those words back to them ("I see, you really want to do this, blablabla") 3) ask them if they can come up with a solution themselves, if not, offer a solution and state again and again that they have a right to be angry but that we don't hurt or not respect the other child 4) when all fails, give them time alone, each in their room until they're ready to play again. More than anything, I think, it's showing them that this is ok, it happens, adults fight too sometimes. What matters is getting calm again and always handling things kindly. Now you may have to repeat this 200,000 times, of course. :):)

    1. Thanks for sharing for worked for you as your children were growing up. You also make a great point about showing them that it is ok to fight and like you say, the important thing is getting calm again and being kind as you deal with the situation. I completely believe you about having to repeat that many times ;-)

  2. Oh dear... I guess that's the downside of having more than one! I only have the one (as you know) so won't ever have these issues, but I do remember my sister and I growing up. Good lord, we fought like cat and dog. Real physical fights. We both got hurt on more than one occasion!!! I think my mum just kind of yelled at us both once it got too much ;) Hehe. I would go with Maryse's technique though. It sounds highly sensible! :) x x

    1. Interesting to hear what things were like for you and your sister growing up - I can imagine two girls might fight even more than a brother and a sister (maybe I'm wrong!). Hopefully you were pretty evenly matched ;-). xx


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