Resolve Sibling Fights

Siblings are prone to bickering and fighting. Sometimes, however, the fighting gets out of hand and becomes excessively physical. When this occurs, it’s common for each sibling to have a very different version of how the incident started, making disciplining either of them very difficult and unfair.

As a parent, how can you stop sibling fighting, and how can you get the children to respect each other (and you) again? How can you get them to act responsibly without the threat of imposed discipline? The stress of daily fights isn’t good for anyone, so here is one effective approach.

Next time a fight occurs, have each sibling write down his/her version of how the fight started and then come up with a solution to prevent it from occurring again. After handing you their little assignment, have the siblings read the other’s paper out loud. This will help each understand the other sibling’s feelings.

The children are not “released” until they come to an agreement on how to prevent a future incident. However, each child can only say what he or she alone will do (or refrain from doing) in the future.

Regarding respect, inform the youth that they lose respect for themselves when they do not respect you. Then, stop telling them what to do or not do, and stop imposing discipline when they misbehave. Instead, elicit behavior from them by asking reflective questions, e.g., “What would a responsible person do in this situation?”