By Rachel H, TSP
“Get Offa Me!”
“She’s touching me!”
“He’s bothering me!”
If you are familiar with these phrases, thank goodness because that means I am not alone. If you are not familiar with these phrases, then it means your kids don’t fight and I need you to please offer me some suggestions today!
My children fight like cats and dogs. I have one boy, almost seven, and one girl, almost five. They have fought like this from the moment my daughter could reach out and take things from my son. It is pretty much all day, every day when they are together. Spring Break gave me a reminder of what the summer would entail – long hot days with sweaty, whiny kids, who are hanging on me and fighting with each other. Doesn’t that sound like fun?
I don’t want my summer to be like that! I want us to enjoy each other and have fun-filled days at the beach and swimming pool where my children actually get along. I would love to ride in the car without hearing arguments about why someone is looking at someone else. I would love to sit down to dinner without kids kicking each other under the table. I would love to play a game of Sorry without my children arguing over whether they really moved two spaces or three. Is that too much to ask?
So I am admitting that I have tried and I have failed in the “children not fighting” department. I have tried to intervene. I have tried to ignore. I have tried to stay in the same room in which they are playing in hopes of the fighting not happening as much. I have tried to go in a different room and ignore it. I have tried structured games. I have tried free play and letting them work it out alone. No light at the end of the tunnel quite yet.
The good news is that my children really do love each other so much. They are sad when the other is not around. They stand up for each other around other kids. They give each other hugs and kisses every night. Sometimes I will find my son reading books to his sister as she sits in his lap. They cheer for each other when playing games. So it is definitely not a hatred type of fighting. It is a normal sibling thing where they bicker and taunt daily. I actually think it is Karma for the way my sister and I fought as we were growing up.
I discussed this problem with a friend of mine who also has a boy and a girl, two years apart, who are now 26 and 28. Guess what she told me? They still fight. She told me they just took a family trip to the beach and the two of them taunted each other in the car the whole way, even with their spouses along on the ride!
So do I have any hope? Please say yes. I am so blessed to have these children and I want to do the best I can in raising them to get along. I know there is someone out there who has done a marvelous job of this and I would love to hear suggestions! And of course if your kids are like mine, I’d love to hear about that, too!
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Right there with ya … wish I had some inspiring words of wisdom, but I am in the same boat with my three children. If two are not fighting, it is usually because they are in separate rooms. It is tough and I want to see this problem diminish as well. I would love advice!
Glad to hear I am not alone! I am always amazed that they can be fighting one minute and then being so sweet to each other the next. My normal routine is to send them to their rooms when they are not getting along, gives all 3 of us a moment of quiet to calm down, and then depending on how much fighting has been happening will depend on how long I leave them in there. I have a neighbor that does it in a 3 stage manner, the first time they are fighting they go to their rooms for 15 minutes, the next time they fight she increases it to 30-45 minutes and then on strike 3 it is the rest of the afternoon. She it it only took one time of them both having to spend the afternoon in their rooms for them to figure out that it is better to get along than to fight. Now all she has to do is the first trip to their rooms and then a warning that if they continue that it will be all afternoon and they figure it out. Even if they just separate themselves at least she is not having to do it and the fighting stops. Have another friend that made her boys sit down and write out what they were going to do to stop the fighting between the two and made them sign it like a contract so when one of them started doing something to irritate the other she would pull out the contract and show them that they signed that they would not do that. would love to hear what others do
Wow, could have written this myself. I have two girls who think their job in life is to argue with one another about anything from hair accessories to who is sitting on what side of the table. I like the suggestions above and might try the three chances for time outs!
I had success with the book called 1,2,3 Magic. My kids still argue now and then (two girls) but overall, I think the strategies in this book have helped.
We have taken a system straight out of my classroom days that works wonders in our house. I sat down with my kids, ages 3,6 and 9 and identified 3 undesirable behaviors for each child. I hung up 3 removable hooks and punched a hole in a piece of cardstock printed with child's name at the top and their three issues (in positive wording) on the bottom of the paper. I cut out a square and using double sided tape, I made an old timey library pocket kind of thing to hold slips of paper. Our items tend to cover broad behaviors so that I can handle many issues. But, if they are having issues they loose one of their tickets. Depending on your kids, I would pair this with a punishment that varies and hits them where it hurts (I'm not talking spankings, but what they love most!) My kids think loosing a ticket is BAD and punishment enough to usually get them back on track. If they loose all of their tickets, they are done for the day. The amount of tickets varies for the age of the child and the amount of time they are at home. It works well too away from home because I can take a random piece of paper, tear it into a ticket per child and give them to each kid. I don't even have to say a word and they understand. This system takes the anger away from me and makes it very black and white. Always use wild card type punishment so they don't know if they are going to miss out on a birthday party, spend 20 minutes in their room, clean the baseboards or just loose a ticket. This way everyone is being punished for the poor choices of one person. We also have scriptures posted near our hangers so that we can back up our expectations with God's word. You can choose to do popsicle sticks in cups or whatever is easiest. Hope this helps someone!
I love the suggestion above. Question – if you end up having to take a ticket away from them while in public, do they freak out? I think my daughter would fall apart. Would you just wait until you are back in the car? THanks for the idea!Janice
I think whatever works for you or your family. If a warning gets her back on track, that's the bottom line. Of course you want them to remain with dignity, so if waiting for the car is what works for you, do it. Some kids will care less about the tickets and you'll have to match them and raise them 20!
Enjoyed this post! Helped me realize I am not alone! 🙂