Everyday Parenting

“Tips to Handle Sibling Squabbles”

As difficult as it is as a parent to listen to your kids squabble, it is a necessary learning tool.  When kids interact with parents and other adults, they learn about authority and respect. When they interact with their siblings they are honing skills that will help them resolve conflicts, deal with differing opinions, compromise and negotiate as well as learning how to empathize.  This stage will pass and they will eventually become better friends and help protect each other.

Resolving an argument is an essential life skill that kids need to master.  If possible, avoid stepping in to provide a solution.  Coach them through the process by suggesting they look at their sibling’s perspective surrounding the situation.  Offer ways to help clarify the point of contention so keep them focused on the real issue.  Help them find creative ways to compromise and come to a win/win solution.  When these instances arise, it might help to focus on these 6 steps to problem solving:

Identify the problem. It is essential to be able to verbalize the problem clearly before it can be solved.  For instance:  “You use my things without asking.”

Why is it a problem? Have your child identify why it is upsetting. For instance: “When you wear my sweater without asking, when I want to wear it I can’t find it.”

Brainstorm possible solutions. Make a list of potential solutions, allow the list to include sensible as well as non-sensible options. Don’t judge their ideas, leave that for later discussion.  Gather a list of at least ways to resolve the issue.

Evaluate the possible solutions. Discuss the positive and negative outcomes of each of the potential ways to resolve the problem.  Make a list of the pros and cons of each idea to see which idea has the most merit. Rank the results on a scale of 1 to 10 to help them identify the best scenario for finding compromise.

Put the solution into action. The first attempt to resolve the issue might not always work out.  Give it some time to work and make adjustments as needed to keep the peace.

Evaluate the outcome. Evaluate what is working well and what needs to be adjusted to prevent the problem from being a regular occurrence.

As kids grow into their teen years privacy and independence become key issues that set them off.  Creating healthy boundaries can help keep the fighting at bay.  Most preteens and teens squabbles can be boiled down to two distinct categories:  personal domain infractions and fairness issues.  This could include borrowing things without permission; copy catting with the older sibling does, controlling what to watch on television or who gets to sit in the front seat of the car.

Good luck and happy parenting!


Daddy Nickell

Parenting Expert and father of 7, Robert Nickell (aka Daddy Nickell) offers his “5 cents” worth of advice to expectant and new parents.  Daddy Nickell is the founder of Daddy & Co., delivery room duds and daddy gifts and apparel for every stage of fatherhood, and the Daily Daddy Blog.  He is also the creator and producer of “My Life as a Dad,” the groundbreaking new web series that showcases celebrity fathers offering their personal experiences and parenting tips.


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