David Frost said, "When you have one child you are a parent. When you have two, you're a referee."
Do you ever feel like a referee in your home?
Here on the blog I've shared how to teach siblings to be kind and how to encourage turn taking, but now I am really excited to have a comprehensive parenting guide to tell you about! The topic we're discussing today is sibling fighting and I am introducing the awesome new book by Dr. Laura Markham from Aha! Parenting called Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings. We also have a giveaway of her new book so make sure to scroll to the bottom.
Today I'm going to share one of my favorite tips to stop sibling fighting from Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings.
Fighting happens at our house for a number of reasons. Some of the following things get argued about quite often between my 4 & 7 year-old... and even the 2 year old joins in sometimes...
who gets to use the bathroom first
who opens the car first
who can say the prayer
who gets put to bed first
who said an inappropriate word
who gets to sit by mom or dad at dinner
who gets to set the table
who gets to pick the TV show, etc.
Fighting also happens when kids are having a hard time taking turns or when one of the kids is feeling big emotions and hits or kicks or throws something at someone else.
When fighting starts in our house my brain typically feels like it has turned off and I can't think clearly at all. My heart starts to race and I get a rush of adrenaline and feel really angry and frustrated. I hate fighting... especially over toys! Fighting also sometimes gets paired with running around the house which drives me bonkers! I feel like the world is spinning out of control.
My response to sibling fighting often involves raising my voice and sending kids off into their own little areas of the house by themselves so that they won't bother one another any more. I usually wind up feeling frustrated and sad that I didn't help the kids communicate or resolve anything better... and then the moment passes... and we cycle through the same process again later in the day.
In Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings Dr. Markham explains that re-centering ourselves and making sure we are calm BEFORE we intervene in any sibling fighting is essential.
When we are calm and manage even really strong emotions appropriately, children learn more productive ways of managing their own emotions when when they're upset.
When we are upset and respond to a sibling conflict like it is a big emergency it just makes the kids more worried and stressed out which makes them unable to think clearly or learn anything. This also causes the kids to get upset more quickly because they feel threatened... which then causes them to fight with one another more often. It is a vicious cycle... that starts with us!
In fact, Dr. Markham indicated that "The more we 'fly off the handle' the more our children get the message that life is often an emergency. They build a brain that is geared for self-protection, which makes the child more aggressive."
Based on this information, my favorite tip to stop sibling fighting is to regulate myself as a parent! I need to be less reactive and more peaceful!
This is easier said than done! Although I already knew that self- regulation was important for me as a parent, the information on brain development and how my negative emotions can impact how my kids manage their own emotions and interact with one another was new to me.
Once parents have their own emotions under control then it is time to do some connecting with the kids followed by coaching to help each child learn how to foster successful relationships.
After reading about self-regulation I have been trying out some of the tips in the book like meeting my basic needs better (which is hard as a parent) and training myself to notice when I am starting to slip into a negative unproductive stage. I love getting outside, getting some exercise, taking some deep breaths, turning on music, dancing. and even just finding a quiet spot to sit for a minute all by myself before I get involved with conflict or overly emotional kids.
Sometimes it is tough to regulate myself when my kids won't leave me alone, but I am trying hard! I love having a book to reference and use as a resource when I need help.
Dr. Markham's book is a guide to help transform the relationships in families. It isn't possible to make big emotions go away or make conflict completely disappear but it is possible to give kids healthy tools to work through any disagreements or challenges.
Here are some of the sections in the Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings book that I have enjoyed reading so far...
- Why Punishment and Permissiveness Cause More Sibling Fighting
- How to Help Each Child with Big Emotions When You Have More Than One Upset Child
- What Causes Sibling Rivalry- And How Parents Can Make It Better
- Factors That Can Exacerbate Rivalry
- Coaching Essential Emotional Intelligence Skills
- Coaching Kids to Listen to Each Other
- Coaching Kids to Problem-Solve
- Basic Negotiation Tools to Teach Kids
- Teaching Conflict Resolution
- Ten Reasons Children Bicker and How to Resolve Them
- When Your Child Says He Hates His Sibling
- Intervening in a Sibling Fight: The Basics
- When Your Toddler Is The Aggressor Against Your Older Child
- Coaching Kids to Handle Aggression From Younger Siblings
- Why Kids Fight Over Possessions
- Coaching Kids As They wait for Their Turn
- Family Routines That Foster Sibling Bonding
- When Kids Share a Room
- When One Child Has a Friend Over
- What To Do About Toy Grabbing
There are tons and tons of other sections that I haven't even had a second to look at yet.
One of the things I gleaned from Dr. Markham's book is that creating a family culture of kindness and sibling closeness takes a lot of work! Teaching kids to negotiate and resolve conflict in a way that will help them have successful relationships throughout their lives is not easy, but it will be so rewarding!!
I LOVE LOVE LOVE the strategies she shares for creating a family culture that values a close sibling relationship. The examples of traditions, routines, rules, mottos and team building activities that foster sibling bonding were great!
How do you stop sibling fighting in your house? Do you have any family traditions or routines that help foster sibling bonding?
Here's another key reminder that I loved from the book...
"The truth is we can't make another human being do what we want. We can only help them want to."
It is all well and good for my kids to act appropriate when I am around, but I want them to become the sort of kids that want to be good even when I am not there! I think Dr. Markham's guide will be a great addition in our home to help us on this path!
Dr. Laura Markham's new book Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings is available NOW for pre-order! It won't be on bookstore shelves (or in your mailbox) until May 5, but the advantage of pre-ordering is that you also get immediate access to her audio course, Peaceful Parenting.
You can get the details and pre-order here:
We are partnering with Dr. Laura Markham to give away a free copy of Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings to one Toddler Approved reader!
Giveaway Entry Requirements:
- Make sure to fill in the rafflecopter giveaway entry below and complete the mandatory email entry.
- You can get up to four entries by completing all tasks mentioned in the rafflecopter form below.
- This giveaway is open for entry from Thursday, April 16th to Thursday, April 23rd at 12:00am (PST)
- The winning entry will be drawn on Thursday, April 23rd. I will notify the winner via email.
- The winner will need to reply to me within 72 hours of my email. If there is no response, a new winner will be drawn.
- See our Official Giveaway Rules for complete guidelines. US Residents only.
Disclaimer: Dr. Laura Markham provided me with a free copy of Peaceful Parents, Happy Siblings to review and share with you.