Kids fight. It’s something we tell ourselves over and over again, as once again we are forced to reach a conclusion on an argument. We remind ourselves of our childhood, how our siblings switched from being our best friends to our enemies in the course of a single day. It’s natural for children who live in such proximity to one another to occasionally blow up and argue. Some would even suggest that it’s healthy, that they are learning coping mechanisms and how to respond to their emotions.
Nevertheless, while we massage our aching heads in the face of another row, it can be infuriating as a parent. Especially if we’re trying to juggle all of the other responsibilities of life; playing referee is unattractive.
So is there some way that you can nip the arguments away before they have even happened?
If you’re thinking there’s some brilliant solution to sibling spats – there isn’t. No matter what you try and do, kids are going to find a reason to argue. Frequently it will be for stupid reasons that we can’t fathom the meaning behind – which is, of course, the issue. No matter how good your prevention, your children are going to find some reason they disagree with one another.
So there is no magic waving of the wand with the key to a quiet household. Is it even worth trying in that case?
Well, we can’t 100% prevent car accidents either – but that doesn’t stop us from wearing a seat belt. There are measures you can put in place to reduce the frequency and reclaim a little time to dedicate to non-raised voices.
Argument Avoider: Toy Division
Teaching your children to share is an important part of their upbringing and something that will stay with them through their lives. There’s a lot to be said for communal toys which are not anyone’s specific property but to be used as and when desired.
However, children – like adults – do like to feel some things are “theirs.” From a photo frame to a full blown toy, it’s a good idea to keep a thing in the realm of one child only. This can be quite a difficult concept for a younger child to grasp, as they see something they want and have no bounds for social convention yet.
One way is to make it clear that there are some toys and items which are personal and to be used only by the holder. You can even separate them by personalizing them; if this appeals you can find them from Makaboo or similar. Keep it to five or fewer items that belong solely to one child.
Therefore if the boundaries are crossed, you don’t have to wonder if you should emphasize sharing. This is about respect for personal property, and the one crossing that pre-agreed line is in the wrong. If there’s a particular item one child is drawn to, make it clear they can request their own version for their next birthday.
Argument Avoider: What To Watch On TV
If you’re lucky, your kids will have a similar taste in TV shows, but this is not always possible. Different genders and ages don’t help matters. The solution might be to give each child their own device to watch their choice on, but that may be a budgetary or social concern.
If your kids learn to share the TV in harmony, Santa will be impressed
The answer is very simple. Every day, each child has one TV show that they can watch – the entire family agrees to it. This teaches your children how to prioritize the one that they want, rather than just wanting control for the sake of it.
Children tend to respond well to boundaries, and they will feel the division of one choice to one child to be fair. If their choices overlap one another, you have the option of online streaming or catch up services to keep everyone happy.
Argument Avoider: Lack of Attention
Children have a tendency to act out if they feel that they are not getting their fair share of their parents’ attention. This tends to be worsened if one child is particularly intelligent and celebrated, or on the flip side, has health matters.
Set aside an hour each week which is just for each child. The other could be watching their show, playing or doing their homework – anything that doesn’t require you. Being the sole focus for a set period introduces a structure of routine and helps every child feel appreciated.
Furthermore, try and celebrate achievements equally – even if they don’t compare. It can be tough being the less celebrated child, so instead praise their other virtues with the same fervor.
Argument Avoider: Food Fights
You buy a packet of cookies. Each child is allowed access to the cookies. Let’s say in this example, you have two kids and ten cookies to a packet.
Child 1 eats seven cookies. Child 2 only has three cookies. Child 2 is rightfully annoyed, especially if cookies are not often on offer.
The division needs to happen as soon as the cookies arrive in the house. You make it clear they get five each – no more, no less. Separate the cookies into different containers, preferably kept out of sight so you can monitor who is having them and when. If one child eats their cookies sooner and wants some of their sibling’s share, it’s a flat no – they have to learn to be patient.
Argument Avoider: Division of Chores
Let’s say you have two chores you need doing. One is sweeping up leaves, a task both children like. The other is unclogging drains, which they both hate.
In the face of contentious chores, they have to be revolved. Keep a chart of who has done what when, and keep it up-to-date. Do not use chores as punishment or swap them around for any reason; stick to a schedule that makes a clear division of tasks for each child. They might still moan about it, but you have done all you can to ensure things are at least fair.