A friend of mine had kids who were constantly fighting. After years, he was finally fed up when his kids, who were now teenagers, were at it again. He said, “I’m so sick of all of this fighting!” Then he turned and punched the wall, and his fist went right through it. The creation of the hole was not intended, but he ended up leaving it there for an entire year to remind his kids of their constant bickering and what it does.
Listening to fighting kids is quite possibly the most annoying aspect of parenting. It rivals fingernails on a chalkboard. To protect your sanity and own temper, a plan is needed to deal with it. Nip it in the bud. The ideas below will get you started.
1. Let Them Work It Out
Sometimes it is best just to stay out of it. They are in the middle of learning how to deal with and settle disputes. Possibly they are fighting for your attention. Sibling rivalry is a mighty thing. You do not want to validate that behavior with your acknowledgement. If someone is being hurt or endangered, then you have to intervene. Otherwise, letting them go is a good idea.
2. Setting the ExampleConflict is an opportunity to show your kids what reconciliation looks like.
Do you fight with your spouse in front of your children? If so, what type of example are you setting in how you work through conflict? If you have a disagreement about your kids that should be done behind closed doors. There needs to be unity on dealings with the kids. However, when you fight in front of your kids, watch your words and demeanor carefully. Be respectful with your words and your tone. Above all, your kids need to see or be told that you and your wife have reconciled. Conflict is an opportunity to show your kids what reconciliation looks like.
3. Remove the Source
If you have more than one child, you are acutely aware that they will argue over anything. Seriously, anything. The remote control being one of them. Your son wants Nick and your daughter wants Disney. The tussle begins. In these cases, simply remove the source of the fight. It sends a message. If they fight over it, it’s gone. Next time they need to figure out a way to share.
4. Dangle the Carrot
Rewarding good behavior helps decrease poor behavior. “If you guys behave and play quietly, I will take you for ice cream.” Carrot dangling. It can be tremendously effective.
5. Everyone is Equal Under the Law
Do not play favorites. It will make things far worse. It will also draw you into a debate about who was right and who was wrong. Unless it’s a serious matter, you don’t want to know. Your headache will get much larger. Wield your judgment with a fair and just gavel. Split them up. Send them both to their rooms. Whatever the sentence may be. Equality for all.
6. Watch your Temper
Watch yourself. Count to ten if you need to. Walk outside. Scream into a pillow. Just avoid blowing up at the little ones. For one thing, it will scare them and possibly make them fear you. Not in a good way. Also, it could make them do it more often. You are acknowledging their bad behavior with a major reaction. Despite the fact that you are screaming at them, they still got your attention doing something negative.
7. When the Dust Settles
Praise is powerful and healing. If the kids fought and then found a solution on their own, step in with plenty of adulation. Only after the dust has settled. There could be another flare up on the way. When you are positive the fire is out, then lavish praise on the maturity shown solving the dispute. The next argument might be shorter in duration before it’s negotiated.
8. Man Got Jokes
Humor lightens moods. Turns screams into laughs. Humor is wonderful, so use it. Interject with a funny story about yourself getting in trouble as a kid. Explain in hilarious detail how embarrassed you were by how you acted. Kids love it when you make fun of yourself. It works every time.
9. Setting Boundaries
Children need boundaries. They need margins. Set them in advance and remind them often what lines not to cross. Imagine that you are installing a boxing ring around them and tying on the gloves. You know they are going to fight, so make it safe and fair to the participants. When somebody breaks the rules, such as hitting, then you know it’s time to ring the bell and penalize.
You tried everything and nothing worked. Time to dig into the discipline bag and deal out a healthy dose of consequences. The fabled time-out is a proven winner. You can take away favorite toys. You can stop them from watching a favorite show. Grounding is an option. Just make sure the punishment fits the crime. Then by all means, stick to it.
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “Why is it important to work out disagreements?”