Help me out here, parents!

How do you stop the bickering and the fighting? Two of my kids seem to resent the other one even breathing the same air. One looks at the other and it’s “what are you looking at me for? Ima, he’s watching me. Ima, he’s breathing on me. Ima, make him stop!”

It just seems like they are oil and water sometimes. Separating them helps to a point, until they come back into shared space and it starts all over again, over nothing.

So those of you with more experience than me, can you give me some tips? Help me regain some of my sanity?

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30 Comments

  1. tikunolam says:

    Wldnt say I have more experience. But have an idea. In addition to separating them, have them be required to stay in the separate areas (their rooms if they don’t share one) and tell them when they are ready to treat the other with kindness, they can come out. Make it their responsibility. If they do it well, tell them, well done. If bickering starts over, say, clearly u weren’t ready, let’s try this again. And over and over. I like to say, “this is not acceptable” in the B family. Or “we don’t treat each other like this in the B family”. If you keep it consistent, they will know how to avoid the monotenous consequences. And they will take pride in the Sabo-Milner family being one where treating each other with kindness is the only way that it is acceptable to act.

    At work, I tell the kids who tend to rank on each other, use foul language etc, that my office is a place of peace where we treat each other kindly and if they can’t follow those rules, I kick them out and tell them they are welcome to come back if they are ready to treat my office as a place of peace and kindness. All the kids have heard this speech fro me.and now they give the speech to each other when someone acts up. “You have to follow Dr. B’s rules if u want to stay.” And they come back and sip tea together. Even rival gang members. It can be done.

    • HSaboMilner says:

      your idea has plenty of merit. However, what to do when time is of the essence, for example, breakfast time before school when there is no time to separate them?

    • SR says:

      Tikun olam thanks for your advice. would this work for a 4 and 5 year old as well? what would you suggest at this age. I have to nip this rivalry in the but as well!

  2. Rachel Ann says:

    Umm, run away?
    Honestly, this is just part of family life. You don’t want blood, but try and stay out of it as much as possible. You might give helpful advice whenever everyone is calm and collected again, and underscore when they’ve done it right “Hey I really liked how you handled that. “

  3. YC says:

    I am much closer to Rachel Ann on this than TO.

    Let them work it out on their own, stay out it it 100%

    Try it. It will get WORSE before it gets better.

    It is all about you and the attention you give it. Starve them, at first they will be even more hungry but then the hope is they will get used to their new diet. They may cheat on the diet, STAY OUT OF IT.

    Helpful phrase: I am confident you can work it out on your own (if they come to you)

  4. HSaboMilner says:

    Stay out of it – as a mom that is a really tough thing to do!! especially when the noise is impacting everyone else.

  5. Leah says:

    I have some of the same in my family.

    The best way to resolve it is for the parents to stay out of it. If we truly believe that our children can work out their differences, they will.

    However, as soon as parents start acting as referees or take sides they make the problem that much worse.

    It will take time, but they’ll find a way to live with each other WITHOUT our help

  6. I wish I could help. My issue is with the abba and the son. Same type of behavior. I actually cannot stand it…one pushes the others buttons and in a small house, well, everyone is constantly on edge and fighting.

  7. tikunolam says:

    Family like is a microsystem where children learn how to treat ppl in this world. Parents need to teach kids that the way to resolve problems is not thru bickering, name calling, hitting. Requiring them to talk to each other with patience and kindness is the lesson they take away into this world. They can’t simply learn social skills by duking it out on their own. In school they wld never allow kids to go at it. Adults rightfully call them on maladaptive behavior. Parents need to teach kids to resolve issues w/ adaptive means, and grow to tolerate when others irritate them. When they go into the world it is their home life that largely prepares them for it. Running away from the kids is not teaching them anything about how to resolve problems the appropriate way or how to treat others with respect. My opinion, it is a lazy copout. Its an opportunity to teach. We only have them for so long. The world is full of conflicts, teach them to handle them with grace, respect, and patience.

    • YC says:

      If it works, great. But try and teach during the fight. Good luck.

      Natural consequences teach, talking after a fight helps.

      • tikunolam says:

        LOL. You separate during the fight and have them come back when they are calm and ready to resolve like mentches. Been a parent for 12 yrs. Not new to this. And I have treated hundreds of kids and their families as a child psychologist for a decade. You can disagree, but I don’t need luck. I’ve had success with both my own (who treat each other extremely well and know what the drill is when they fight) plus teaching inner city teenage gang members to resolve issues my way. Feel free to disagree, but luck I don’t need.

        • YC says:

          re have them come back when they are calm and ready to resolve like mentches.

          So we are not disagreeing on when a teaching is and isnt- meaning dont try to reason and “teach” during a full blown fight.

  8. Lady Lock and Load says:

    How old are the boys that are fighting?

  9. Dov Kramer says:

    Seems like it would be abnormal if kids didn’t fight this way.

    Often times I call each of the bickering siblings into my study, one at a time, and listen to their version of the story. I then ask them questions until they understand what they could have done to avoid increasing the tension.

    One of the “normal” causes of bickering in our home is that the way one son eats annoys his sister. He knows he has to leave the table if he chews with his mouth open, and she knows that she has to leave the table if she reacts in a manner that is impolite. (They can return when they are confident they can chew with mouth closed/speak in a more appropriate tone. It has gotten much better as a result.)

    I don’t know if this helps your situation, and with your KoD away for such long stretches, it makes parenting that much more difficult, but hopefully sharing some of what goes on in our home is useful.

    • tikunolam says:

      Ok. This one I like. Works right into my teaching moment philosophy. Dov we find things to agree on?

    • HSaboMilner says:

      the eating thing is such an issue here too!!

      Am i seeing things? Do tik and Dov AGREE??

      • tikunolam says:

        I am as shocked as you are. Though he seems to like the work I do too.

      • Dov Kramer says:

        I guess siblings can outgrow their feuding! ;) (And yes I like/appreciate the work you do.)

      • tikunolam says:

        Kids do generally outgrow bickering. But there are many feuds that lead to some serious bullying, or physical fights that can be harmful. My husband was beat up by his older brother pretty regularly, he took it out by kicking his teacher and acting out in school. It is not all harmless and par for the course. There is also a lot to be said for having a peaceful home.

      • tikunolam says:

        Oh and eating is an issue by us too. It is just between me and my husb :) He comes home late, well after dinner time is over, I have trouble handling the sound of his chewing. So we separate until he is done. I know he isnt doing anything wrong, I know it is me, so no one takes it personally.

  10. Julie says:

    Hadassah- parenting expert Slovie Jungreis Wolf just posted a huge column this week on Metro Imma about Battling Sibling Rivalry, Check it out here :

    http://www.metroimma.com/forum/topics/battling-sibling-rivalry

  11. Lady Lock and Load says:

    I told my girls that if they want a sister when they grow up they should be nice NOW. It is sad when sisters are not close as adults. I think they really understood this, at least it worked for me.
    If the kids are fighting bickering etc.etc. LEAVE the room and let them resolve it themselves…unless you want to be the shoteres of the house. ( I frequently told the girls that I am not a policewoman, not my job, sorry!) If there is punching or hitting though, you should get involved.

  12. Ilana says:

    Siblings Without Rivalry by Faber and Mazlish. Great, great book. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

  13. yuyu says:

    “common enemy strategy” works in general…

    “Mommy, he is looking at me” “Never mind, dear, right, I forgot to tell you that right now both of you will…
    -empty the trash
    -wash the dishes
    -hoover the whole place
    -wash the laundry
    etc…

    Then they will suddenly agree that you are a bitch and the problem is solved…

  14. My sister and I fought so much she nearly knocked me unconscious. My mother told us we were not allowed to hit each other but because I was the oldest it turned out like my sister was allowed to hit me and I had to try to keep her at bay. We’re in our mid-to-late 20s now and we haven’t hit each other in 2-3 years. :)

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