1. When I step back and approach the challenge thoughtfully, I remember the importance of managing external stressors (as much as possible) and encouraging everyone to get enough sleep, exercise, and healthy food. An individual’s wellbeing is often self-expressed as positive or negative behavior toward family members. When a child is being mean to another family member, it’s a invitation to ask: “I wonder what is going on in my child’s body and emotional world . . .”
2. Rather than just penalizing a disruptive child, I sometimes remember to give him/her some of my 1:1 time (either immediately or later that evening) and listen as she/he vents about the tough stuff going on. (Likewise important to give the kids who are negatively impacted by the disruptive child time to talk/vent with me.)
3. The old adage is often true: “When mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” My own negativity can influence the tone in the home, I feel. Rather than giving full attention to what is going wrong in my life, I hope to practice noticing what is going right–which feels much more hope-filling and peace-giving. Realizing that arguments among siblings is normal and happens in every family also helps to minimize my anger, worry, and judgment about my family life.
4. The normalcy of kids fighting doesn’t mean I become apathetic to it–however. It can drive me crazy at times! Rather than taking it personally and be driven crazy by it, would that I would step forward as a resource for the kids by asking questions like: “Did you know that many kids fight with their brothers and sisters? Why do you think that is?” “Is yelling at your brother/sister working? Are you successfully convincing them of whatever it is you want? Have you tried anything other than yelling? Would you like a few ideas?” (etc.)
5. This idea worked once (time to return to using it!): “I understand, [child’s name], that you want ____________________. Would it be all right if ___________________________?”
You have my love and sympathy, [name withheld]! I am, as you well know, not an expert at maintaining the peace in my home. Just a fellow explorer in the exciting journey called raising a family! Thanks for the invite to consider strategies for promoting sibling amicable-ness. Best wishes, my friend!
I’d love to hear your ideas, too! (Especially with regard to helping teen boys talk respectfully to one another.) What’s worked in your home?