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Little Kids

5 ways to stop sibling fighting

Here's how to defuse sibling squabbles and less-than-brotherly battles.

By Shawna Cohen
5 ways to stop sibling fighting

5 ways to stop sibling fighting

Conflict is normal

Conflict is normal in any relationship — particularly among siblings. Here are five strategies for taming little tempers and making peace in your home.

Read more: Sibling fighting: How to keep the peace>



A version of this article appeared in our May 2013 issue with the headline "Conflict zone," pp. 45-8.

5 ways to stop sibling fightingPhoto: Catherine Yeulet/iStockphoto

Bite your tongue

When kids argue, it’s tempting to blurt out, “Really? Are we really fighting over who gets to press the off button on the remote — again?”

According to parent educator Beverley Cathcart-Ross, your best bet is to keep quiet. “If they’re fighting over a toy, you want to shout, ‘Just let your little brother have it!’ or ‘It’s not even your toy anymore.’ But this isn’t helpful; usually the older child will feel resentful.”

Read more: How to tame sibling rivalry>

5 ways to stop sibling fightingPhoto: vitapix/iStockphoto

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Avoid taking sides

“Don’t create victims and bullies in your family,” says Cathcart-Ross. “Seventy percent of fights are provoked by the younger child, yet our instinct is to protect the little one. Instead, help him see that fighting isn’t going to benefit either person.”

5 ways to stop sibling fightingPhoto: Lise Gagne/iStockphoto

Plan a family outing

Sandra Mendlowitz, a psychologist at The Hospital for Sick Children, recommends doing an activity that everyone can enjoy together (this can be both a preventative measure and something you plan as a reward). “The kids won’t fight if everyone’s having fun,” she says, stressing the importance of finding time in our hectic lives.

5 ways to stop sibling fightingPhoto: Catherine Yeulet/iStockphoto

Stay away from labels

Don’t pigeonhole your children or give them a defined role (for example, “This is my outgoing one and here’s my shy one”). Children deserve the freedom to change.

Watch: How to keep your kids from fighting>

5 ways to stop sibling fightingPhoto: Chris Bernard/iStockphoto

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Keep it simple

“Sometimes it’s best to say, ‘Your sister seems to be having a hard time this morning; let’s give her some quiet time,’” advises Cathcart-Ross.

5 ways to stop sibling fightingPhoto: Paige Falk/iStockphoto

More parenting tips

5 ways to stop sibling fightingPhoto: Glow Images
This article was originally published on Apr 13, 2013

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