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5 simple things you can do NOW to stop sibling bickering

Our relationship with our siblings is unique. As children, we play more with our brothers and sisters than anyone else. This constant closeness, paired with an immature emotional regulation system, mean siblings both intensely love and hate each other, often within the same five minutes!

Of course, the day to day is most usually less dramatic, with ambivalence, relaxed friendship, and low level irritation, annoyance and anger characterising many sibling interactions. It’s these last emotions that parents can find difficult to deal with. This is particularly the case over the summer holidays, when bickering is
often at its peak. While there’s no magic cure, and managing disagreements is part and parcel of growing up, research suggests a few things, which may help to increase the peace.

5 simple things you can do NOW to stop sibling bickering

Get it written down.

Trying making a “grievance book” where each child can write down things the other child has done which have been upsetting. This can allow small gripes to be vented without always having to come to an adult. From
your child’s perspective, the issue can often feel resolved just by getting it down on paper.

Leave other siblings out of it.

When one child is acting out, avoid comparing behaviour, which can increase resentment and antagonism. So, rather than – ‘George always hangs his coat up neatly, why can’t you?’ -describe the problem and explain what needs to be done – ‘Your coat is on the floor and it should be hung up.’

Don’t give attention to unwanted behaviour.

When one child is misbehaving, avoid rewarding and reinforcing the misbehaviour by giving it your attention. If your littlest child has hit your eldest, lavish your attention on the child that has been hurt, giving kisses and cuddles or an ice pack as appropriate.

Create shared goals.

Suggest games where siblings can work together as a team and benefit from a shared outcome. For example, encourage each child to bring his/her Lego together to create a Lego fantasy world, in which everyone can play.

Discourage direct comparisons.

A family environment where siblings constantly compare everything, and demand it to be equal, will be ripe for bickering. Instead, encourage natural differences. For example, when providing food for dinner ask, ‘How hungry are you? Would you like a lot or a little?’

From chartered psychologist Dr Sarah Kuppen

Author of Little Kids, Big Dilemmas: Your parenting problems solved by science

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Helen is a mum to two, social media consultant, and website editor; and this site is (we think) the only Social Enterprise parenting magazine! Since giving up being a business analyst when juggling travel, work and kids proved too complicated, she founded KiddyCharts so she could be with her kids, and use those grey cells at the same time. KiddyCharts has reach of over 1.1million across social and the site. The blog works with big family brands (including travel) to help promote their services, as well as offering free resources to parents of kids under 10. It gives 51%+ profits to Reverence for Life, who fund a number of important initiatives in Africa, including bringing running water and basic equipment to a school in Tanzania. Helen has worked as a digital marketing consultant (IDM qualified) with various organisations, including Channel Mum, Truprint, Talk to Mums, and Micro Scooters. She loves to be creative in the brand campaigns she works on. Get in touch TODAY!

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