When parents are raising children, one of the most important things they need to do is help their kids learn how to get along with others. Playing together is a great way for children to learn how to socialise and cooperate. Unfortunately, sometimes siblings just don’t get along. If your kids can’t seem to play together without fighting, here are a few tips that might help.
Tips to reduce sibling conflict
Teach them assertiveness communication
Teaching both children the different communication styles (passive, aggressive and assertive) is an excellent place to start.Encourage them to use “I” messages to express what they want from each other without being disrespectful.
I feel [state the feeling]…
when you [describe the action]…
because I [say why].
I want/need or would like you to [say what would make things better].
I feel sad when you scream at me because it makes me think you don’t like to play with me. I would like you to use your kind voice when we are playing.
Establish rules and expectations for how your children should behave when playing together.
Sit down with them and explain that they need to share toys, take turns, keep their hands to themselves, and not call each other names. By establishing rules beforehand, you can make sure everyone is on the same page from the start.
Explain the consequences for not following the rules.
If your children share one toy, but not the other, they need to know that there will be consequences.
Encourage positive interaction by praising your children when they follow the rules and play nicely together.
Praise them for being patient when sharing a toy, helping each other when they need it, and respecting each other’s boundaries. When they see the positive results that come from playing nice, they might be more willing to do it again in the future.
Model good behavior yourself
Play alongside them until they start playing well together on their own. By watching your play they might realise that sibling relationships are supposed to be more give and take than all for one and one for all.
Intervene if there is a conflict and help your children resolve it peacefully.
Give your kids time to resolve the issue by themselves, but if the argument is getting heated you need to intervene to make sure everyone is safe. Brainstorm ideas on how to solve the problems and try to help your children find a way to compromise.
If you are struggling with sibling conflict, we have a free printable that can help. Our printable includes tips for parents and children on how to using “I” message and communicate effectively. Click the link below to download your free copy. We hope it helps!
If you are interested in working on your child’s communication and boundaries, you may want to consider our ASSERTIVENESS Value Guide.