How to stop kids from fighting


It’s the bane of every parent or child minder — daily routines disrupted, children spending more time together which triggers an increase in squabble and arguments.

After months of social distancing, frustrated parents are seeking help from online parenting blogs for the answer to an age-old question — How do I get my kids to stop fighting?

While listening to children bicker isn’t fun, experts say the school holidays provide the perfect environment for siblings to build better relationships with some guidance from parents.

Parenting expert Dr Justin Coulson said it’s important for parents to remind themselves that conflict among siblings is normal.

Dr Justin Coulson with wife Kylie and daughters Emilie, 5, Annie, 12, and Ella 16 (striped skirt) and Abbie, 17, Chanel, 20 (white shirt), amd Lilli, 9. Picture: Mark Cranitch.
media_cameraDr Justin Coulson with wife Kylie and daughters Emilie, 5, Annie, 12, and Ella 16 (striped skirt) and Abbie, 17, Chanel, 20 (white shirt), amd Lilli, 9. Picture: Mark Cranitch.

If they begin fighting, stay calm and supportive. Use the experience as an opportunity to help them see each other’s perspective and choose a more mindful response in the face of conflict, he tells SMARTdaily.

“In the heat of the moment, don’t ask questions because they’ll either lie or blame each other,” he said. “Instead, state what you see and try to understand why the kids are upset.

“It’s important to help your kids understand each other’s emotions and perspective. If they can’t be in the same room together, have a separate conversation with each child and find a solution.”

Conflict also presents an opportunity for parents to articulate family rules and moral values. For example, you might explain that name-calling and physical violence are never good solutions to an argument.

Children are spending more time together which triggers an increase in squabble and arguments.
media_cameraChildren are spending more time together which triggers an increase in squabble and arguments.

“Parents need to take time to teach their kids how to express their feelings to another person without it resorting to fighting,” child psychologist Michael Hawton said.

“If kids are developing the habit of meltdowns, anger and hitting, then parents must reset the expectation of behaviour by teaching their children a new way of behaving.

“This will build their emotional maturity, improve your confidence as a parent and strengthen your bond with your children.”

Human behaviour specialist Mark Carter agrees, adding that teaching kids to stay calm when faced with a difficult situation will hold them in good stead later in life.

“All healthy relationships require consideration, collaboration or even compromise,” he said. “Every sibling tussle is an opportunity to teach a powerful learning tool that we can de-escalate a dispute and prevent arguments by asking better and more strategic questions.

Racquel Bechara with her kids, Nahla, 8, Amelia, 6, and Dorian, 3. Picture: David Swift.
media_cameraRacquel Bechara with her kids, Nahla, 8, Amelia, 6, and Dorian, 3. Picture: David Swift.

“Lead the kids’ learning minds to the trough of different perspectives, the importance of the feelings of others and principles of kindness, empathy and adaptability — skills that will serve them well in their future relationships and careers.”

Racquel Bechara’s children are sweet as pie but hellraisers when provoked. They clutch each other lovingly one minute and fight each other the next.

“They fight over which TV show to watch or who’s sitting in what chair,” said Ms Bechara, a mother of four kids aged between 3-8 years old.

“It’s important to stay calm, treat each sibling equally and help them hear each other, as opposed to deciding how it’s going to end,” she said.

“Encouraging them to discuss their feelings and laying down ground rules can prevent further fighting and find a solution to move forward.”

Originally published as How to stop kids from fighting



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