Updated: Oct 24, 2020
With multiple siblings especially the ones closer in age, there will always be opportunities for sibling conflict and rivalry. Whether there is a fight for a toy, or sharing the same space, you can expect a challenge with behavioral issues that may arise as a result. What can we do as parents however, to lessen the effect or the possibility of aggression that can result from it? I have provided some tips that I have used on my 2 and 3 year olds that can help you to understand and better manage sibling conflicts. Feel free to express your own views or ideas in the forum section as well.
Sibling conflict can happen for many reasons. One of the major reasons can be because of frustration or anger when things don't go the way that a child wants it to. Many times children may fight if they do not know ways to handle conflict or in some cases expressing their emotions.
“Getting your childs attention is the way we give instructions.”
Here are 7 steps that you can follow to manage sibling conflict. Remember it will take a little time and much needed effort on your part as a parent to implement. However after implementing these steps, the journey will become much easier.
1. GET YOUR CHILDS ATTENTION
This is important to first and foremost get their attention. They have to be aware that you are present and will be helping them to correct the unpleasant behavior. Remain calm when you do this and try not to stand over your child but remain at eye level as much as possible so that they can understand and acknowledge your presence.
2. BRIEFLY AND CALMLY SAY WHAT THE PROBLEM IS
Remember to keep as calm as possible. Yelling can sometimes reinforce negative behavior. Speak to them in a calm tone of voice about what the problem is. For example, if John hit Sarah with a toy, then as the parent your respond would be: "John we do not hit others with our toys when we are upset that Sarah doesn't want to give her toy to you."
3. SAY WHY IT IS A PROBLEM
Saying why it is a problem is explaining to your child the reason they are being spoken to. When we don't let them know why hitting for example is a problem it does not offer an opportunity for them to learn other ways to solve conflict. They have to be aware of what the issue is so that they can help to choose another appropriate behavior response. For example: "John when we hit Sarah with the toy it can cause harm to her and it does not solve anything."
4. ASK THEM WHAT THEY SHOULD DO INSTEAD
Asking your child the next step in resolving their conflict gives you as a parent the opportunity to help them state the rules about how they should behave. If they can't remember, then reinforce the rules at this point. For example: "John and Sarah what is the right thing to do here in this situation?" "Yes John, you can ask Sarah for the toy nicely instead of throwing it at her." (You can also use picture cards that has several examples of sharing toys etc. that you can use as a visual aid as well for them to point out the correct behavior.)
5. HAVE YOUR CHILD PRACTICE IT
Practicing what you should have done instead further teaches and reinforces the positive behavior. This is a crucial part because not only do they get to role play the expected behavior, but it also helps them to fully understand the situation. For example: "John and Sarah, lets practice now on your own what you should do instead."
6. PRAISE YOUR CHILD FOR DOING THE RIGHT THING
In addition, after practicing the correct behavior, praise them for asking nicely and responding politely. You can also implement a rewards system which is optional if they have cooperated with the process for solving the conflict themselves. For Example: "Good job John and Sarah, you have done a terrific job of showing mom how you asked Sarah politely for the toy. Also because you asked Sarah for the toy nicely, you can both get to play together for an additional 10 minutes."