One of the most common questions we get from parents is how to stop siblings from fighting so much. The sibling relationship can be intense; children often spend more time, communicate more and fight more with their brothers and sisters than anyone else in their lives. But constant bickering, jealousy and conflict can pose a challenge for parents and the family unit as a whole.
So what can a parent do?
Earlier this month, SCAN engaged members of its Allies in Prevention Coalition for a discussion on the topic with Dr. Avidan Milevsky, a well-known psychotherapist, author and professor who focuses on family issues, parenting, and siblings.
“Sibling fighting is an opportunity,” insists Dr. Milevsky. An opportunity? Yes! It’s perfectly normal for siblings to fight, but how and when parents step in can determine whether it’s a learning opportunity or a spark for greater conflict. Dr. Milevsky shared three main suggestions:
Encourage each child’s unique talents and differences; this is called “deidentification” and means each child has his or her own individual personality and interests that are celebrated and encouraged.
- Be an example for your children in your own relationships, and provide a warm family environment that encourages empathy, communication and real-life conflict resolution
Establish limits for conflict between siblings and be clear that violence is unacceptable
Dr. Milevsky also shared the importance of deciding when to intervene during a conflict. Parents generally have three options:
Can you guess which one works? And when? He shares his thoughts on the power (and danger) of intervention in a recent Parenting Today radio show from SCAN and Clear Channel. You can listen here.