Tired of listening to your kids arguing all the time? Here are 11 effective and simple ways to stop sibling fighting and to encourage your kids to get along.
Sibling rivalry, bickering, squabbling, arguing… call it what you will, it’s frustrating, upsetting and mentally exhausting when your kids constantly fight with each other.
A certain amount of bickering between siblings is normal and even necessary for your kids’ social and emotional development.
As much as it drives us crazy, disagreements between siblings teach our kids how to deal with and resolve conflict at an early age, which will help them handle conflicts in relationships outside of their immediate family as they get older.
However, when your kids fight all the time, it disrupts the family dynamic and stress levels in the home can run high. It’s so draining to have to referee your kids ‘arguments all day long.
Imagine how much more peaceful your home could be if your kids would just get along!
Take this question from one of my Facebook followers:
Our 3 children fight CONSTANTLY & about EVERYTHING! It’s literally from the minute they wake up to the minute they fall asleep!! Any help on getting them to stop fighting all the time?
I turned to the parents in my Happy Hooligans Facebook Community for their best ways to deal with siblings who fight constantly, and as always they came through.
They shared a lot of effective ways to drastically reduce sibling rivalry and I was amazed by how simple their solutions were.
Many of the same tips were suggested time after time by parents from all over the world who swear by them.
I’ve compiled the tips that were shared most often to share with you.
Deep breath! You’re this close to ending the sibling squabbles in your home for good.
11 Effective Ways to Stop Sibling Fighting For Good
Hold Hands, (Or Sit Nose to Nose):
Believe it or not, many of my followers said this is a sure-fire solution to end the quarrelling. Here’s what one follower said:
I make my kids sit on the couch and hold hands. I did it twice with my kids, and now when an an argument is about to break out, I just calmly ask ‘Do you need to hold hands? ‘ They figure out how to solve the issue pretty quickly now.
I used to have my kids sit in the floor nose to nose when they wouldn’t stop fighting. It usually lasted about 20 seconds and then they’d be laughing so hard, they’d forget that they were even fighting.
2 Bodies 1 Tee-Shirt
Some call it the punishment shirt, while other families call it the I Love You Shirt. The idea is that you have an extra-large men’s T-shirt that the children have to wear together until they stop bickering. Older kids can even be made to do chores while crammed in the tee-shirt together. While the shirt is on, talk about how things work out better when they work together (trust me, if they want to do anything while wearing one shirt, they have to work together.)
One of my followers swears by her “job jar”. She says:
Think of about a dozen chores. Write them on small strips of paper. Laminate them or cover with tape so they can’t get mangled. Expain to your kids that each time a fight breaks out they all have to pick a job out if the job jar. They don’t get to choose; they just grab one. When the squabbling starts, just calmly say, ‘job jar’.
My friend just started a money jar. Basically everyone has their own jar (including mom) for fighting, hitting, talking back etc. Every time someone slips up, money gets transferred from their jar to mom’s jar. If they hurt someone else, the money goes into that person’s jar. For good things they do, money comes out of mom’s jar and back into their jar. At the end of the month, if they’ve earned a certain amount of money they get to buy a treat with it.
It’s amazing the difference it has made. The kids have gone from non stop fighting to occasional fighting to playing well together.
Several of our followers said to stay calm and let the siblings work it out themselves. They explained that they’ve taught their children conflict resolution skills, so when the fighting breaks out, they stay out of it, intervening only when absolutely necessary. As one follower said:
Resolving conflict is a life skill we all must learn along the way. Who better to learn it with than your siblings?
While some parents suggest putting the kids close together to diffuse an argument, many others are in favour of separating. It works for so many families:
Separate them for an entire day. They will cherish their time together again.
SEPARATION works for me… it is amazing how much they miss each other when I call for no communication or playing until they learn to treat the other one the way they would like to be treated.
Mine get separated and have to sit for 20 minutes with mine that works better than anything else.
Send them to different rooms and make them clean until they can play nice. It works well with my 3 girls.
Put them outside:
This was suggested a number of times. One follower makes her children sit on a bench outside the front door until they can agree to stop arguing.
Another follower said:
I put my girls outside and shut the door. I would tell them ‘I understand you’re upset with one another, however INSIDE this house we do not yell, scream or shout about our problems. We talk about them’. I only had to do it 2 more times. After that, I would just have to walk to the door and open it the minute they started.
One on One Time:
As much as you might not think this would make a big difference to siblings fighting, 3 parents said that their kids arguing decreased significantly when they started giving each child designated “one on one” time i.e. a game, cooking, watching a movie, a walk to the park etc. In one family, the Dad takes one of the kids out for a special breakfast on Sunday mornings.
Hug it Out
I made my girls hug, and they had to keep hugging until they stopped being mad at each other. They would end up laughing at their situation because they were physically locked together. Then the ‘I love you’s’ and ‘I’m sorries’ would follow.
Clean the House
So many parents said they make their kids clean the house when they’re bickering needlessly. Given the choice to clean the house or stop arguing, kids will stop arguing every time.
Give them a Problem to Solve Together
This one was a friend’s suggestion. She had three boys very close in age, and to stop their arguing she would have them do a puzzle together. When they finished that one, she would give them a harder one. Solving puzzles together encouraged them to get along, rely on each other, and help one another.
In closing, it may help to remember that a certain amount of bickering and fighting is normal and even healthy in your children’s relationships with each other. As one mother put it:
Honestly, my mom tried everything to get me and my sister to stop fighting. We hated each other until my sister moved out and then we became best friends.. It’s gonna happen, Momma. Just grin & bare it. They’ll realize one day that when it comes down to it, family is all you’ve got!
Try some of these ideas, and see if one works for you. With my own children and the hooligans, consistency is key. When you find a solution that works, stick with it, and I’m confident that you’ll see a marked improvement in how your children get along.
More solutions to common parenting challenges:
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Jackie is a mom, wife, home daycare provider, and the creative spirit behind Happy Hooligans. She specializes in kids’ crafts and activities, easy recipes, and parenting. She began blogging in 2011, and today, Happy Hooligans inspires more than 2 million parents, caregivers and Early Years Professionals all over the globe.