AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — It is summer and siblings are together more often than when in school. All of this time together can lead to sibling conflicts.
The sibling relationship is where kids learn about disagreement and conflict which will occur in adulthood with friends/ co-workers/ roommates. Learning how to deal with this productively will help them navigate success as an adult.
Kids bicker for these reasons:
- Together a lot
- In competition with each other
- Wanting what they want when they want it
- Easier to have a conflict with those we love/trust—a safe place to “unload” from the days stressors
- Ability to regulate feelings that have not completely matured
How to help kids problem-solve:
- Discuss the process with them: layout ground rules (no shouting, no name-calling) You become a guide for this process and remind them of the rules often
- Taking turns verbalizing feelings/ perceptions. Each child gets time to get their say without interrupting from the other. One cannot “fix” what one cannot see; especially understanding how the other feels
- Consider perspective. Once versions of events shared then ask how they felt during the conflict. Helping kids to really listen and at times repeat how their sibling feels builds the ability to hear an opposite version while reporting accurately
- Assist in coming up with solutions. How they resolve a resolution and/or compromise to the situation. When a solution is brought up ask how they think this could work out
- Have a healthy back-up plan to present if a realistic solution cannot be agreed upon
Be sure and practice these 3 steps when coaching kids during conflict:
- Encourage sharing
- showing empathy
Remember the importance of patience. Learning these skills is not a quick process and takes a lot so practice and coaching from the parent.
This will not make battles completely disappear however creating a framework to talk and collaborate will create more tolerance in the end.
Challenge: Remember to be a mediator rather than a referee. With the mediator comes teaching, referee comes quick fixes with no real understanding.