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Children fighting: 5 steps to happier families

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Since the beginning of time siblings have had love/hate relationships. They can pick on each other but no one else can pick on their sibling. This can make parents go crazy with frustration. Here are five easy ways to help bring peace to the house.

Set Rules- Let your children know what you expect. Set down guidelines so that they know what is an acceptable behavior and what is not. Be consistent. When making the rules tell them what you want (not what you don’t want). For example: Instead of saying "no hitting" say "have nice touches". Children tend to only hold on to the end of what is said. So if you say “no hitting” they retain “hitting.” So they are more likely to hit. Keep this in mind any time you are giving a direction to your child.

Positive Behavior- Every child at some point does something right. Make sure to point out those times to them. Praise them for the good things they do. Watch your child’s face light up when you tell them how proud you are of that behavior. Behaviors are all about attention. You will get more of the behavior you focus on, whether the behavior is good or bad.

Talk it out- Conflict resolution is a learned skill. Small children don’t have the knowledge or understanding of how to resolve things if they are not taught how. Once they have the skills to resolve the issue they can start practicing it on their own. Remember it is a skill like any other: it takes practice to do it right. Praise them for trying to resolve issues.

Feelings- Let the children know that having the feelings of anger, sad, hurt, and mad are ok. Make sure you help them understand what each feeling feels like and how they can express it in a proper way. Each family or child can have different ways of expressing their feelings. Find what best works for you and your child.

Special time- Take a couple of minutes for each child to have hugs and loves everyday. Let them know that you love them for who they are. Show them they are important to you. Give them special attention just because they are who they are and not for something they have done.

Understanding the other person’s point of view is hard even for adults. Keep that in mind when trying to help your children understand where their sibling is coming from. Small children only think of what they want so helping them learn that everyone has feelings and what they do can affect the other child is an important and hard lesson. Be consistent and understanding. Your anger will not help your children understand how to work things out in a calm and productive manner. The Mayo Clinic has even more helpful ideas on sibling rivalry.

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