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.
Related: What to Do When Your Child Can’t Make Friends at School
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:
How to Get Teens to Hang Up Their Towels: 10 Fail-Proof Solutions
My Kid Wants to Quit an Extracurricular Activity. What Should I do?
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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.
My girls don’t get physical but the bickering gets to be too much over little stuff. They are very close in age and when I have had enough I ask them… do you see mommy and daddy fight, yell, bickering, (whatever the situation is)? When daddy comes home I’m going to yell, fight, hit, etc. Him and then you can see what and hear what we sound like! Immediately they both start to cry and say, please mommy don’t fight with daddy! This settles the arguing instantly! I do explain that this is how some families live….cursing, hitting, yelling at each other. Do you want to live like that? I liked all of the suggestions in this article! Very helpful…thanks for sharing!
I have a 13 year old on the Autism Spectrum, so he gets stuck on his point and has a hard time seeing others. His older brother though typically wired likes to always be right and this leads to no resolution. I think a I am going to have them sign off on presenting their own sides for 2 minutes each, myself or husband as ref and basically turn it into a debate scenario. I guess we will see how that goes. Often they are not even on opposite sides of issues, but viewing them slightly different. So frustrating!
This is great! My brother and I fought constantly when we were kids…according to my sister-in-law we were still fighting when they were engage! LOL! And I have experienced much the same with my own kids, although with an 8-year difference in ages, it rarely came to blows. These are some awesome tips and I will be sharing your article with my readers. Thanks!
My 2year old has gotten physical with my 4 year old before. I find that he does it when he doesn’t know what else to do to make her stop antagonizing him. It’s really the only thing he CAN do!
So, I process the situation separately with both of them and monitor their play from a distance to look for opportunities to help them through these situations.
This is great! A small tip for you too – I have been hearing wonderful things about The Danish Way of Parenting. After a long day, it can be easy to get sucked into the negativity that goes along with sibling squabbles and rivalry… We have been trying to focus on the positive interactions between our boys and it really helps. They just light up when they get caught being kind or helpful to each other. You must try this Danish style of Parenting too!!
I’ll certainly try some of these suggestions. Two days ago my 8 year old and 3 year old sons were arguing, as they constantly do, and my 8 year old slammed his brother into a wall. When I went into the room my 3 year old was screaming and had blood running down his head and face, on his arms and on the floor, My 8 year old calmly sat there and said, “well, he wouldn’t share his toy with me.” He had no remorse. I’m thinking about sending him to boarding school. If he can’t get along normally with his brother in a healthy manner, he doesn’t need to be in the house with him. I will try your suggestions though. Thank you.
I don’t know all the details, of course and it’s not my business. Just pointing out that if you haven’t looked at familial issues first, boarding school won’t do HIM any good and you’ll really only benefit bc you won’t have to deal with him. Which is fine. I mean, you do you. But they won’t parent him in your place, either. If he acts up there, they’ll kick him out.
I am only 11 years old but me and my brother always fight with each other and I just don’t feel like I can get along with my brother. When we fight, I don’t even realize. I try not to fight but when we start my body just takes control of me. Usually when I start the fight it is only because I am being nosey and butting into my brothers business, and when my brother starts the fight he takes things from me or calls me names. My mom is so unhappy with this and I just wish we could stop fighting because sometimes I see how stressful it is to take care of two children fighting. I don’t like fighting since sometimes my brother tends to get really mad at me and punch me, but then I am always the one who ends up getting in trouble. But we both still get in trouble I just don’t understand why I get in trouble and I feel like sometimes that is making it worse. I just really need help and hopefully I can find someone that can help me so if anyone knows what I can do to help stop this please let me know.
I have four girls, they are all different which will always create arguments and fighting
Punishing each other and hair pulling
I say to them did that help win whatever you where fighting for in the first place and they look like they really have to think
I say the answer is no
Honestly if where all the same wouldnt it it be a boring place
Life is to short for crap as their is more important things you could be doing then this.
I have 2 girls. My oldest is 16. She is high functioning autistic and has ADHD. My other daughter is 7. They bicker constantly. I’ve tried everything. Nothing works. They refuse to compromise. They both want everything their way and they antagonize each other. I can’t stand it. I’ve had anxiety since I was a child. My family was constantly yelling at each other, hitting each other. My Dad and brother who can’t hear or speak were constantly getting into physical fights. I guess that’s why this just sets me off every time they start. I’ve cried and cried n thought about what a terrible Mom I am. I have even thought they would be better off without me. They don’t act like that with their Dad. They don’t listen to me. It’s like they think I’m their maid/slave. I love them so much. It just breaks my heart. I remember they used to get along and were so sweet to each other. Guess that’s over now. I always wanted a sister but I had 3 brothers. Maybe it’s better that I didn’t have a sister. My brothers were like 15 and 16 when I was born so I’m not used to all of this arguing. My husband said it’s normal n I believe it is sometimes but constantly, NO. We are Christians. I’ve prayed and prayed that they get along and love each other. I guess because of the environment I grew up in I have no confidence or self esteem. I feel depressed. I feel like I just don’t care anymore. I’ve tried and tried n Nothing changes. You would think with the age gap it wouldn’t be so bad but with the autism n ADHD my 16 year old has the maturity of an 11 year old. It’s so hard to parent a special needs child and then a child with no problems. The child with no problems always thinks the child with special needs is getting special treatment. My oldest always blames everything on her sister. She’s not innocent. It irritates me that she’s always so quick to point out what her sister did wrong without admitting she’s just as guilty. Thanks for listening. I just needed to get that off my chest.
Tori, I am sorry to hear all the pain and hopelessness you feel. Your situation is so difficult with two kids that fight and a special needs child. My children are age 7 and 3 and fight constantly and I hope it will get better. I too feel like this is my fault somehow and it’s interesting to see you blame yourself too as I do. Being a mom is the hardest job we will ever have. Good luck to the both of us. Let’s try and be kind to ourselves too along the way.
Tori, I know how you feel with two boys of my own that are 16 and 9. I too feel like I have just given up on them getting along and find myself being depressed too. It is so hard being a mama!