Cathi Cohen, LCSW
As frustrating as it is to be around quarreling siblings, do know that this is not only normal, but desirable. There is no such thing as a conflict-free household. Instead, the goal is for a family to work through issues in a healthy way. Children learn tremendously how their behavior impacts other people from feedback from their siblings. I have a few ideas for you:
- Special time with each of your children individually is probably the most useful way to reduce conflict at home. Even 15 minutes of regularly scheduled time once a week doing an activity of your child’s choice is enough time to help your child feel he/she is a priority to you and lessen the conflict between siblings.
- Establish a family meeting one time weekly to resolve conflicts creatively as a family.
- Create clear family ground rules and consequences for breaking the ground rules.
- Encourage cooperation by doing family projects i.e. plant a garden, build a tree house, etc.
- Develop rituals to build family identity i.e. weekly family movie night, breakfast for dinner night.
- Get involved in sibling conflicts as little as possible; communicate trust that they can work it out together.
- Remember these Dont’s: don’t compare your children; don’t take sides; don’t reward tattlers; don’t let yourself get too emotional.