Mom + Husband + 3 boys

Siblings Fighting: Dealing with Boys Who Always Pick on Each Other

It was a weekend. My kids and husband got up early. And while my husband prepared breakfast, I stayed in bed, cuddled up and enjoyed a moment for myself, but not for long. My second boy was crying over his monster truck snatched by his older brother. At breakfast, my eldest yelled at the top of his voice because the younger one kept copying what he says. The day went on with yelling, crying and fighting over something that I couldn’t even remember anymore.

Growing up in a family of 8, chaos is our middle name. I can still remember some of our sibling fights over toys, food, and attention among others. But despite our differences, I remember the happy memories we shared together as a family.

Having my own kids and witnessing my sons fighting, I fear that these rivalries might escalate into physical altercation. Meddling with kids fighting over and over again, I fear that they might grow estranged from each other. Siblings fighting is probably inevitable no matter how you try to prevent it.

Some Causes of Siblings Fighting

1. Siblings fighting for attention

2. Siblings fighting for things and space

3. Siblings have different interest and needs

4. Siblings have different personalities and temperaments

5. Siblings competing for who goes first or who is better at something

7. Just annoying each other

As parents, we want to encourage our  kids to resolve the conflict on their own. But when the fighting becomes brutal to the ears or someone gets hurt, it gives us the green light to interfere. Here are some ways we manage our boys when the fight gets out of their hands.

How to Manage Siblings Fighting

Keep your calm.

With the boys’ heightened emotions, we should keep our calm. We can’t just jump right in without a clear mind. The calmer we deal with the situation, the less likely it will escalate. 

Separate them.

It is better to separate the kids even before the fighting starts. But if the fight had started, we ask them to go to separate rooms or opposite corners. We would talk about when they feel calmer.

Let the kids talk.

This technique works better between my 3rd grader and almost 4-year old because they can both use words to express their emotions, although the younger one may do it less skillfully. Giving them the chance to reason out helps them manage their feelings and probably resolve the conflict on their own as they grow older. 

Age-appropriate conversation and consequences

It takes two to tango. No matter who the victim or the offender is, they still fight and it is not acceptable. We teach our oldest son to be understanding to the whims of his younger siblings. On the other hand, we teach the young ones to respect their “kuya” (oldest brother). We talk to them using words they can fully understand and hoping somehow, the little ones can take in a word or two.

Find a solution.

“Complaining about a problem without posing a solution is called whining.”, Theodore Roosevelt says. And true, kids will reason out whatever they believe is right. So instead of doing the blame game, let them identify how to resolve a conflict, and I stand witness to the pact each one makes. We ask our oldest to write it on a paper and put it somewhere he can easily read.

How to prevent Siblings Fighting Even Before It Starts

Prevention is better than cure. Most of the articles and blogs we read online talk about managing sibling rivalries as they occur. But I think it would be better if we can minimize and prevent siblings fighting with these strategies.

  1. Avoid 3 C’s (Comparison, Competition and Name-Calling)

Each child has his own distinct strengths and weaknesses. I always tell my kids how special and unique they are. There are certain things that one can do while others can not. They don’t need to compete for my attention because I love them equally.

  1. Taking turns instead of sharing.

Heather Shumaker, author of the book It’s OK NOT to Share, proposes that teaching kids to take turns is better than sharing. Why? We often tell our kids that sharing is caring. But what if sharing is forced. Let the kid exercise control over his toys while the other waits for his turn. Sharing should be genuine and should be exercised without pressure.

  1. Set the rules.

Setting the rules ahead of time lets the kids know each other’s expectations and limits. It might need a little push and some reminder, but somehow, it prevents any future disagreements.

  1. Do things together.

Set activities that all kids can have fun together. You can take them on a vacation. Let them build tracks. Draw and play together. Watch movies. Building memories are gift we can offer our kids throughout their lives.

  1. 3 DO’s (Time, Praise, Positive Behavior)

Parents should fill kids’ love baskets everyday. And when we give each of them equal love and attention, they refrain from competing for our presence. Give them praises if they’re getting along well such as, “I am happy you are playing soccer together.” or ”You build an awesome track together, good team work.”. Lastly, let us encourage mutual respect, love and peace at home. 

Before you go, please check out my other related posts:

You probably think I have it all sorted out. But nope. Just like you, I am just a mom who endeavors for peace at home, a mom who will try everything to maintain solidarity among my kids. I still flare up and lose my temper. And somehow wish that one of these techniques may always work for my kids.

We are on the same boat. Siblings fighting can drive us crazy. And let us accept it, it stays here, no matter how we avoid it. 

What about you, how do you handle siblings fighting? Share your experience in the comment section and let us learn from each other.

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3 thoughts on “Siblings Fighting: Dealing with Boys Who Always Pick on Each Other

  1. Great suggestions. My 6 year old and 2 year old have their share of fights but right now it’s mostly because my oldest playfully gets in my youngest’s space when she wants her alone time. My youngest can’t communicate well yet so she goes straight to hitting her brother. I tell her no hitting and gentle touch, and then I have to explain to her brother he needs to give her space or give her back the toy she was playing with…and explain that her reaction is because she’s frustrated, not because she doesn’t love him.

    Siblings are fun. 😂😂

  2. It is so important to teach our kids to have each other’s back. We always tell our kids there are plenty of people who will be unkind, but the family should be a safe haven.

  3. Thanks for sharing this. My kids are that phase now where they fight over almost every toy, so I could use some of these tips. I’ll have to try out a new strategy this week – instead of sharing, take turns. This is so timely!

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