Sibling Rivalry: How to stop your housebound children from driving you mad this winter

When we think of winter, we often think of cold, long, rainy days. For some of us this also means “oh dear what will I do with the children to keep them busy and not fighting”. I would call this a very common winter problem.

Why are they always fighting?

Disagreement between siblings is a common problem that parents will often query me about. Why are they always fighting? Why can’t they just play together nicely? Is it ever going to end? All very normal questions when you have 2 or more children living under the same roof.

Siblings have disagreements for many reasons. They may view a situation as unfair or not right. They may be trying to express their own opinion which may be different from their brother or sister’s opinion. They may even be fighting to get your attention. Or sometimes they may even be fighting because they are just outright bored.

Another very important reason children fight is because they are still learning how to manage and control their own emotions!!

What can I do to reduce the fighting?

Firstly, being able to control your own emotions when your children are fighting is critical. If you can’t control your own anger, neither will your children. It is important to model good behaviour.

Teach your children how to negotiate. This is best done when they are not fighting. If the children can learn this important skill, they can use it with their own siblings. Negotiation is also a great tool to be used to problem-solve family issues as well.

Make sure that there are lots of activities to do at home. Children will fight if there is nothing to do. Winter time is a great time to get the lego box out, craft supplies, and maybe some board games to entertain the children during the cold winter months.

Remembering that: YES it is very normal and healthy that your children are fighting and YES one day the fighting will end.

France Slattery, Clinical Psychologist

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