Oh Sibling Rivalry… Seriously, listening to my kids fight is like listening to nails on a chalkboard for me. Underneath the frustration and annoyance, I truly desire for my children to be friends and to value their relationship as brothers.
Here are 7 Creative Solutions that I use to help them work out their fights.
Sometimes it works to sit down and discuss the problem behind their disagreement and then brainstorm solutions. This allows both kids to feel heard. It also gives them ownership over the problem and over finding a solution.
If you want to use brainstorming, this solution works best to introduce the concept at a neutral time instead of during a fight. So, for example, if your children have been having a lot of fights over who gets to play the Xbox, then sit them down after dinner one night (when they are not currently fighting) and let them know that you are going to work on coming up with a solution to this common sibling rivalry issue.
Set ground rules such as:
- There is no such thing as a bad idea
- No making fun of or putting down others ideas
- Everyone has to suggest at least 3 ideas
#2: Timed Turns
Using a timer can be a great way to take some of the emotion out of sibling rivalry fights. Setting up a system where your kids are able to take timed turns works fairly well for simple disputes over belongings and/or resources.
#3: Use a Problem Solving Worksheet
Problem Solving Worksheets are great for providing some structure to an emotional fight. They generally ask your kids to:
- State the problem
- Come up with ideas to solve the problem
- Choose the solution you like best
- Decide how you will implement the solution
You can download a free Problem Solving Worksheet in the Parenting Resource Library. This is a great tool for Sibling Rivalry or any problem that your child is facing at school, with their friends, or at home.
#4: Arguing for the Opposite Side
This is a fun technique to put a stop to sibling rivalry that works well with slightly older kids. Have them switch roles and argue for the “other side”. So, for example, if your kids are fighting over who gets to choose the music in the car, have them layout an argument with 2-3 reasons of why they are right – but have them do this for their sibling’s position not theirs.
One of the best things about this option is that it helps kids learn to listen to each other. They really have to listen and reflect what their sibling is saying. If your kids tend to have a lot of issues around listening, make sure to check out the Be Heard Method parenting course.
#5: Write a Letter
Sometimes it can be very helpful to have your kids take a break from their dispute and spend some time writing a letter to their sibling. Make sure that the letter includes:
- How the fight is making them feel
- What solution they want to see happen
- What they think their sibling is thinking and feeling
#6: Write a Persuasive Essay
This is similar to the letter writing above but works really well for kids in 3rd grade through 5th grade or so as they are most likely learning about how to write persuasive essays in school. The main components that should be included in a persuasive essay are:
- Grab the reader’s attention
- State 3 Reasons to support your position
- Support each reason with an example
- End with your opinion or position
#7: Play A Game of Chance
Sometimes setting up a simple system where your kids know that every time they have an argument or disagreement, they can play rock paper scissors (or flip a coin) to determine who wins, helps to give your kids some structure.
Solving Sibling Rivalry
Try having a family meeting and discussing ways to solve disagreements. Agree on a way that you will solve disagreements as a family.
I hope these ideas are helpful for you and your kids. You can also check out this article for additional ideas on how to teach your kids conflict resolution skills. Or, this article on creating a Calm Down Kit which can also be a really invaluable tool to use when that sibling rivalry kicks in!