Solving Sibling Clashes

Brothers bickering? Sisters squabbling? Help your children work toward peaceful resolutions, and watch the conflicts and rivalries diminish.
Mediation Advice

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Most parents are stumped when it comes to the best way to stop the sibling bickering. Here's a process for resolving disagreements. A mediator -- the parent, in this case -- helps children find a mutually acceptable resolution. Mediation takes the parent out of the role of problem solver and allows her instead to help children resolve their own conflicts.

Set Ground Rules

Establishing fair and reasonable rules of engagement is essential to controlling sibling skirmishes. Work together with your kids to establish guidelines. You may even want to write them down and post them somewhere prominent.

For example...

  • Rules could include no name calling, requiring everyone to remain seated during the discussion, and not allowing anyone to interrupt the speaker.
  • No one can listen effectively when he or she is too mad, so if tempers are still hot from the argument, you might include a rule that calls for a 5- or 10-minute break that lets the combatants separate.
  • Don't send kids to traditional time-out zones -- this isn't about punishment. Let them go where they want, as long it helps them cool down.
  • When you come back together, stick to the rules you've all established so each child can hear the other's concerns.

Define the Problem or Issue

Make sure each child has a chance to tell her version of what happened. During a cool-off break, you might talk to each child alone to help determine the problem. When you're back together, use that talk to help define the issue by rephrasing what they say, making sure everything is clear.

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