Resolving Sibling Conflicts

Fights with siblings are different from fights with friends. After a fight with a friend, the people involved can take time away from each other to cool off before coming back to rationally discuss the argument. This becomes much more difficult when the people involved live under the same roof (especially if your children are younger and don’t have the necessary positive conflict-resolution skills).

Get both sides of the story—ask each of your children what the conflict was about. Find out how the argument started and how it escalated. Listen to each of your children and try to get facts, not opinions. It may be helpful to talk with your children one-on-one for this step.

Encourage your children to try resolving the conflict again after they’ve cooled off a bit. It can be tough for kids to take this step, so suggest that they spend some time alone and then have a calm, peaceful discussion about the issue.

Only offer advice if it’s asked for or if you think it’s warranted. If you jump in and solve the conflict, your children won’t learn any positive resolution skills, and the arguments will continue. If your children ask you for help in resolving the conflict, explain to them the reasons for giving the advice that you did.

Congratulate your children when they resolve a conflict on their own. Tell them how proud you are of the skills they are developing.

It takes time, practice, and guidance for kids to develop conflict-resolution skills—be patient, and remember that it’s not always easy to live with a sibling. You can help, but eventually your kids will have to work out their relationship—and their arguments—on their own.