Disagreements between siblings can be intense and wear a parent down. It’s not uncommon for children to argue about situations that, in their eyes, are unfair. Children can fight over a toy, a turn on the trampoline or for a parent’s attention. When siblings are close in age, there is an increased likelihood of fighting. Young children struggle to take turns and verbalise their feelings, however, children over 3 years old begin to cooperate and are learning to follow rules. As children develop, their social skills increase and conflict can lessen. The crux here is that children learn how to get along with others from their main carers. Children observe how adults negotiate and respect others’ viewpoints, even though the adult may disagree with another person.
Sometimes allowing siblings to disagree without parental involvement helps them to sort out their issues. But listen out for any escalation in the disagreement. Parents will need to step in and break up the fight when it escalates or when there are hurtful remarks or it gets physical. Parents need to act calm, even though you may not feel calm inside, so as not to intensify the fighting. Separate the children and when things have calmed down, then a discussion can take place. Talk about the issue, not about one child blaming the other, otherwise, the argument will start all over again.
Implement rules around disagreements. Rules are also necessary in the home to help guide family members on acceptable conduct. Examples may be … No Hitting, No Name Calling, No Hurtful Remarks. It is helpful if the child is informed of the consequences if rules are broken. Have a family meeting before the new rules are implemented so everyone is aware of expectations. For many children, though, they will understand the new rules once they see it in action. For small disagreements, help the children develop ideas around solving the issue.
Consider also a quiet space for your child. If children share a bedroom, have a special drawer or box that each child can put their individual toys and things in which they don’t have to share.
Have individual time with each child, this attention will pay dividends in the long term. Have dinner together as a family at least twice a week, your children will learn the social aspects of conversation and community through shared meals.
Parents, you must look after yourselves. There will be good days, not so good days, and in-between days. Parenting is a journey. Talk to friends and other trusted people, but if you are concerned about your children’s behaviour, contact The Northern Centre for an appointment to speak with a professional and caring family worker.
The Northern Centre offers a range of parenting programs that provide parents with the extra skills needed to help with raising their families. Government funding means many of the programs are delivered at no cost. They can also offer childcare for the duration of the program (booking essential). For more information on the courses offered by The Northern Centre you can contact them at:
Phone: 9334 0111
Hours: Mon, Tue, Wed and Fri 8.30am – 4.30pm, Thu 8.30am – 7.30pm