How to Handle Fights between Siblings: A Parent's Guide
Updated: Apr 4
It is common to see fights between children when one of them is angry or upset. In this article, I will be sharing on possible fights between children and some suggestions to handle fights between children.
Possible fights between children.
Fight over ride on toy car, toy, book, pacifier, screen or food.
Hit another child’s head.
Kick or bite another child.
Shout at another child.
Cry when it is another child’s turn.
Throw items at another child.
Keep knocking at another child’s door when was asked to stop.
Push another child
- into a swimming pool.
- down the slide.
- onto the floor or cupboard.
Suggestions to handle fights between children.
Lead by example.
If the parent hits the child to discipline him, the child is going to think that it is ok or normal to hit another child to get his way or solve a problem.
Do not let the child see TV or movies which has a lot of violence particularly if his temperament makes it harder for him to control anger or upset.
Identify the cause of fighting.
For example, the child hit or push another child to get the toy or book.
The child might hit or push because he sees other children hitting or pushing each other and has no idea that physically attacking another child can cause pain and damage.
Told the older child to play with his special toys when the younger child is napping.
Ensure the children have their own space with toys and books at different corners.
Stay close when the children are playing. Step in before or when the fighting starts.
If the parent doesn’t, the child might learn that fighting is the most effective way to get what he wants.
Break up sibling fights.
When two children are fighting over some toy or book, keep the children apart till they cool down. This prevents the child to vent their frustration physically on objects or the younger child.
After they cool down, let the younger child play with the toy or read the book and let another child play with another toy or read another book.
Warn the children if they fight again, I will keep the toy or book away.
When the children fight again, apply fair consequences for fighting to them.
For example, neither child gets the toy or book after the fight.
Click here to read about using "Consequences" to manage behaviours.
Teach the child to find words to express how he feels and control his feelings instead of fighting.
For example, when the younger child cried loudly, the older child cried and said don’t like the younger child because he is so noisy and wants to throw the younger child away.
When the younger child wants to play with the older child’s toys, teach the older child to let the younger child know how he feels in words and doesn’t hit. Hitting can hurt people physically and emotionally until he understands and has stopped hitting.
Click here to read about "Toddler Development" and "How can Parents help".
Praise and Reward Good Behaviour.
Praise and Reward
- children when they are playing nicely, reading a book together or sharing a snack.
- the older child when he did not hit or shout at the younger child who takes his toy or book or initiated to share.
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