"Honey the kids are fighting again!! I've had it... it's your turn to take care of it!"
Sibling rivalry, the kids are fighting again - after several years of it... you get real tired of it. And what happened to the dream of having a happy, functioning family! It's literally not what we signed up for! Well, in terms of that rivalry, fortunately there are a few things that we can do to make it better.
First of all, it's normal and part of healthy functioning. Although one of the best books on the subject calls it,Siblings Without Rivalry, (by Faber & Mazlish), there's really no such thing in my opinion! It's the stuff of what forms a family, forms personality (first child, middle child, last child), and obviously, does help in the ole social skills learning department. (Although only children are not at a super, great disadvantage either, and there's many advantages that only children have too.) It's rough and tumble, but research shows us that although rivalry can be very intense in the growing up years - siblings can still be fast and strong friends, though out life. And that friendship, for many of us, is one of our goals for our kids.
Here are a couple of tips to utilize in helping with the situation. First, when aggression has occurred, give your attention to the wounded party first, and then to the aggressor. Our instinct is to take on the aggressor first, but they need to see that the attention will go to the wounded party first. Our 'sense of justice' gets kicked in and we want to deal with that aggressor. Don't. Try to minimize your attention to the aggressor. Attention from the parent is powerful. Don't forget that one tool you come equipped with! Your attention is powerful in forming behavior and personality. Be sure and use that tool judiciously! Second, when two kids are fighting, use the technique I did with my two. Send them both to their rooms for cooling off for five minutes. Then have the two of them get back together and come up with a solution - without you! Nothing else will happen or get done until they solve the problem. This is important because much fighting is to GET the parent involved. Stay out of it, but guide. After they've solved the problem, they must come to the parent, and explain how they've solved it. This is to ensure that it is a just solution, and gives you the opportunity to give attention to that process - solving the problem. Use your tool - your attention - to encourage this process of solving problems, instead of the fight. And here's a secret, once you employ this method, they'll want to quit the fight. Doing this is a hassle, and keeps them from doing what they want! They'll start working out the problem fast - this process is just simply too tedious to kids!! They'd rather stop the fight, instead of going through this again and again. Problem solved for you!