Wednesday, October 19, 2016

How to Stop Siblings from Fighting

Life just keeps getting better and better as our boys get older (I am definitely not an infant/toddler person). 

During our last trip as an immediate family (during Spring Break to Flagstaff) before our Fall Break trip to Los Angeles, I had to start reading Siblings Without Rivalry because the bickering was so bad. Since that time, we have been working hard to teach our children not to fight with each other. Instead, we try to teach them to use their words to find solutions with each other. And it has helped so much! 

We flat out told them, "If you can't learn to stop fighting with each other, we won't be able to go on family vacations. It's not fun for us to go on vacation when you guys are fighting with each other, and if it's not fun, we won't want to do it." I have no idea if this was the right approach or not, but it seemed like a very logical and natural consequence. 

Every car trip since Spring Break has been a chance to practice how to talk through problems (versus whine, scream, hit, etc.). In the beginning, we had to pull over frequently. We tell them that it's not safe for us to drive if they are fighting and that we need to pull over to help them figure out how to find a solution in a better way. Once we even missed a movie because we had to pull over, which got us there late, and the IMAX theater wouldn't let us in. Now we can reference that event, and it helps the boy figure out how to find a solution before we have to pull over.

We try to teach them to use their words to say things like, "Please stop" or "I don't like it when...", as well as to come up with strategies, "How about if I take this and you take that?" or "What if we set a timer to take turns?"

This strategy works for us because the boys love vacation so much. Even Tate (3 years-old) will say, "Henry, stop fighting with me so we can go on vacation."

I have no idea if this is the best strategy or not. Parenting still feels like one big science experiment with no control group. But it's making our trips together more fun and it does seem like the boys are learning transferrable life skills. Fingers crossed! 

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Erin Curran said...

I have found that having an accurate understanding of how brain development impacts the capacity to regulate emotions has saved my sanity and prevented me from resorting to blame, shame, guilt and judgment -- all of which will undermine the parent-child relationship. (Btw, I'm not saying you are doing those things, I just know it's a common place to go!) At any rate, developing emotional regulation is a long process that is certainly nurtured but is also developmentally-based -- a consequence will not cause development to happen faster though of course it is useful for them to experience the natural impacts of their behaviors. I highly recommend all of Lori Petro's materials at TEACH Through Love, as well as Dr. Daniel Siegel, author of "The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind".

Emily Rittenberg said...

Hi Sara. I loved that book. I also wholly recommend The Awakened Family by Dr. Shefali Tsabary. Her work has totally revolutionized my approach. I write a blog about parenting issues (my boys are 5 and 3.5).

Sara E. Cotner said...

Thanks for the thoughtful comment, Erin! We use Conscious Discipline at our school and I love it.

Emily, I'll look into it! Thank you for the recommendations! I'll be sure to checkout your blog.

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