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When the going gets tough between siblings



From my fortnightly column published in The Coffs Coast Independent (5/7/2012)


Every so often I hear myself say something that I can’t believe I am saying such as: “You two! Stop fighting over a peg!” Ah yes, good old sibling rivalry. That is one thing about motherhood that definitely will never change.

Becoming a parent I was fully prepared for the fact that kids/siblings fight. I remember clearly fighting with my sister. A lot. My Mother always used to say “you wait and see, you’ll be best friends when you grow up.” I think at the time she was saying it more to herself and to save her sanity because it meant nothing to us as kids and only irritated us more whenever she said it.

I think it is the silly things kids fight over that bothers parents. My boys (at the age of 6 and 3) fight about the most ridiculous things: a clothes peg, a piece of ripped cardboard box, or whose turn it is to pull out the plug in the bath. But I have to resign myself to the fact that now my youngest is getting older they are going to fight a lot more  – quite possibly for the rest of their lives. Just the things they fight about will change.

I guess as a parent I need to find that fine line of when to intervene and when to let them try and figure it out for themselves.

On one hand I have read that leaving them to sort it out helps to build problem solving skills such as negotiating and learning and respecting the other person’s point of view. I just can’t see my 3 year old (or even my 6 year old) really caring about that at this point in their lives – in fact if I said to them “now just wait a minute, look at this from your brother’s point of view” they would both respond with “What?”

On the other hand more often than not the times I don’t intervene the fighting escalates and they start hitting each other at which point it always ends up in tears.

According to a parenting website, “Fighting will decrease as your children grow and develop better social skills.” When I first read this I have to admit I scoffed at it. But thinking about it more I realised that this can be true but only if we as parents teach kids how to negotiate and compromise ideally without yelling and screaming at each other!

Another way sibling fighting will decrease is when the kids move out of home and then my Mum’s theory may come true – not living under the same roof my kids might just become the best of friends.

Guess I’ll just have to wait and see.


Categories : Alison's Blog

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