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How to Settle Arguments Between Siblings

As close as brothers and sisters can be, they can also be fierce rivals. It is common for sibs to be playing peacefully one moment and arguing or fighting the next. Sibs learn to interact and get along with others by first learning how to live peacefully with a brother or sister. A youngster who has sibs is taught from firsthand experience how to see another person’s point of view, how to settle disputes, how to compromise, and how to show affection and not hold a grudge.

Some situations require a parent’s intervention. You’ll know it’s time to mediate when:

1. You know the argument has gone too far when your youngster is already bawling, screaming, or throwing a fit. He can neither reason nor be reasoned with fairly in this frustrated condition.

2. You’ll easily recognize when an argument is going nowhere (e.g. “Did, too!” “Did not!” “Did, too!” “Did not!”). Don’t let it reach boiling point, and don’t bother asking who started it. Since children have short attention spans, at this point, they’ve probably even forgotten how the fight started.

3. Since they can’t express themselves clearly, children sometimes resort to hitting to release their frustration. Whether it’s a “harmless nudge” or an “innocent push,” moms and dads should intervene. Otherwise, children might conclude that physical aggression is a valid way to solve problems.

4. When the dialogue has veered from the issue and has become an exchange of cruel and disrespectful remarks (e.g. “You’re retarded!”) and maybe even bad words, it’s time to draw the line.

5. If one youngster is bigger or older than the other and is getting physical, it’s time to intervene. Intervening between two siblings is one way of teaching older children to practice tolerance toward their younger siblings.

The “Kid-of-the-Week” Method for Mediating Sibling Arguments--

1. Line up your children and, one by one, take their individual pictures.

2. Make a little frame that will hold the picture and add a magnetic strip to the back so that it will stick to the refrigerator.

3. On the frame in easy-to-read letters write these words: “Kid of the Week.”

4. Put the pictures in a hat, randomly select one and slip it in the frame. This youngster will be the first Kid of the Week. Select a second one and this will be the next kid of the week. Keep doing this until you run out of kids.

5. Now the problem is solved. Whoever is Kid of the Week gets first option on whatever is up for debate. If there is ever an argument over who gets to sit where, who gets to go first, or who gets to use the TV remote, just ask the question: Who is Kid of the Week? They will know and the problem is solved.

6. If you have more than two kids the next choice goes to the next Kid of the Week and on down the line. Just make sure you keep the pictures in order and rotate them at the beginning of the week. Trust me – your children will make sure you do this.

7. You may want to do more than just settle arguments. Whoever is Kid of the Week also has additional responsibilities. For example, Kid of the Week has to empty the garbage cans, help clean up the kitchen, and be the first to carry out other chores when needed. Use Kid of the Week to teach that “with privileges come responsibilities.”

8. Implement Kid of the Week and have fun with it. It's a great teaching tool and it settles a multitude of arguments. The only other thing you will need to do is figure out a way to keep them from gloating: "Ha, ha, I'm kid of the week!"

It may be impossible for moms and dads to be around all the time to mediate, but proper conflict resolution needs to be modeled as much as possible. This means that in the end, all parties involved must be willing to compromise and to give in to the other’s needs and wants.

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