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My kids are always fighting with each other

Q.My two sons (seven and five) are constantly arguing and fighting. I feel like I spend my whole day just being a referee between the two of them. Sometimes, I lose my own temper and all three of us get upset. Their fights are dragging the atmosphere of the whole family down. I just wish they could learn to share and get on.

A. Though fights and arguments between brothers and sisters are part and parcel of growing up, excessive fighting is a problem and it is important to take steps to solve it and to teach your children how to get on with one another in the long term.Try and work out if there is anything at the bottom of the squabbling. Does one of your children feel inadequate and jealous of the other who might be getting on better at school? Or are you inadvertently favouring one of the children, (e.g. it is easier to let a younger child away with things and ‘expect more’ from the older child). Once you have a sense of what is causing the fighting then you can do something positive about it. For example, you can resolve to spend special time with the child who feels inadequate, doing an activity with them that he is good at, thus building his confidence, or you can resolve to be fairer with an older child, giving both children equal attention. Some other ideas are as follows:

1)     Set up shared activities with you and the two children, when you can help and guide your children in playing well together. When you see any moments of sharing, be sure to notice this saying for example, ‘you gave your brother some of your cars, it is good to see you sharing’. You could also establish a reward system, for example they each get a sticker any time you see them sharing or being kind to one another.
2)    Help the children solve their own problems. Rather than jumping in the minute they have a row, give them time to sort it out themselves (unless they are harming one another). If you do get involved instead of being a referee and imposing a solution, step back and help the children come up with their own ideas saying for example ‘OK both of you want to play with the play station, what can we do?’ If you take time to listen, often the kids will come up with their own solutions.
3)    Arrange a family meeting when you can sit down (away form the original conflict) with your sons and help them sort out their disagreements. Rather than being be a ‘judge’, it is important to be positive saying what you want to happen:  ‘I want to help the two of you learn to get on and share more, this will make things happier in the home. How can we make this happen’ The most important thing to do then is to listen to your children and help them think through how to solve things.