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5 Things To Do When Your Kids Fight

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First off, let me say Happy Birthday to my sister! Quite appropriate that I'm talking about sibling rivalry during her birthday week. I have to say, we didn't fight all that much growing up, though when she was a little older, about 10, and I was only 7, I wasn't included as much when her friends popped over. And the middle school years were a bit rough -- but they were rough for everyone, right?

Siblings do fight. Some more than others, some in different ways, some more physical, others more of the yelling variety. Fighting. No mom wants to hear it. But what do you do when they lay into each other? Stop it before the blood starts to flow, sure, but there are some other really good ideas out there, ones that when I read them, I thought, "Oh, wow...that makes total sense!" 

-- Don't judge or place blame. Instead of asking "What did you do?" to either kiddo, even though you may very well know, that sets up and enforces "roles" for the kids, which can be hard to shake as they grow. Try to have everyone take deep breathes and get them calm first. Then ask them to "Tell me what happened. Help me understand." If you have a younger child that may not be able to really communicate, help him or her with words.

-- If you can avoid it, don't get involved. They will get used to you being referee and helping. If they are figuring out a toy situation or territory issues, let them do it themselves (though, obviously, if someone is going to get hurt, so what you have to do). If there is teasing or name-calling or other behaviors that go against your house rules, point that out and enforce that, but don't "rescue" a child or "fix" the specific situation. Have them handle it.

-- If you have to mediate, instead of telling them what to do, ask questions. Ask them to think of ways to get out of the situation (What do you two think is a good solution to this? What do you think is fair?).

-- Punishments don't work. Taking away toys, sending both kids to their rooms, and the like will only model that punishing works...and then, next time, the kids will "punish" each other. If you can, solve the situation with a respectful outcome, a win-win outcome, which will encourage them to choose that next time.

-- Praise them when they don't fight. When they have cooperated and figured out a way to play together despite a stumble or two, praise them together and individually. 

Do your kids fight? What do they fight over and what works in your home to ease the tension?


by on Apr. 11, 2012 at 12:00 AM
Replies (41-44):
by Stacie on Apr. 12, 2012 at 11:26 PM
When we were kids my momma would let us handle our business. If it got to bad she would make us hug eachother and say I love you and then we would have yo hold hands until we were over ourselves lol me and my brother once had to hold hands for 2 days straight. It seemed to get the job done tho we are best friends now lol
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by Member on Apr. 13, 2012 at 7:53 PM

My son was an only child. But I sure fought with my siblings.

by on Apr. 20, 2012 at 6:17 PM

This happens at our house too. It can be soo annoying & I have a hard time having patience with those types of arguments!

Quoting PoehlerBear1983:

My kids fight normally over space. His feet are on my cushion. He is looking out my window. I try to just ignore it

by on Apr. 20, 2012 at 6:19 PM

 When mine are driving me crazy with fighting, I have them stand nose to nose and repeatedly tell each other "I love my brother/sister".  After a few minutes it turns into a giggle fest.

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