With all the extra time my kids (6 and 8) are spending together, with no school or outside friends, they are fighting like crazy. Do you have any tips for how to help them get along?
You are not alone and there is a lot you can do to help them get along better.
First, make sure they take breaks from each other. The conflicts might be happening partly because they’re tired of each other. Have some time every day where they play on their own. You can have a name for it, like Quiet Time, and each child plays in his or her room or in a different space. Sometimes one child wants to play together more than the other, so make sure that if one sibling says, “I don’t want to play,” you support that child at least some of the time. It could be that one of your children is more introverted and not getting enough time alone.
Have established property and sharing rules. I recommend that parents do not force their children to share property that belongs only to one child, such as a birthday gift or something bought with the child’s own money. It’s up to that child whether to share it – or not. If it’s a toy that belongs to the whole family, each child should be able to play with it until he or she is done. Imagine if another adult demanded to use your phone or your car. Or imagine if you were in the middle of using a piece of equipment at the gym and someone told you your turn had been long enough. Forced sharing does not make kids more generous and it contributes to sibling resentment.
It can be difficult, but with some strategies, clear boundaries and some time and effort, you can help them stop fighting and be best buddies as they grow up.
Have a question? Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sarah Rosensweet is a peaceful parenting coach and parenting advice columnist for Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper. She lives in Toronto with her husband and three big kids (ages 13, 16, and 19). Sarah teaches parents a non-punitive, connection-based approach that uses firm limits with lots of empathy. Enjoy your kids again! Find her at sarahrosensweet.com