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Sibling fighting is a learning experience

22 July
Posted by:
Michael Grose

If your kids fight with each like the proverbial cat and dog, then don't despair. All that emotional energy isn't going to waste.

According to a recent study sibling fights teach kids important conflict resolution skills. In fact, parents who stop their children from arguing may well be depriving them of important learning opportunities.

Researcher Laurie Kramer from the University of Illinois in the US found that kids who learned how to argue with their siblings had more advanced emotional development.

My own research found that sibling fighting was the biggest impediment for parents enjoying family life. Stop the fighting and my life as a parent will improve dramatically was the attitude of many parents, whom I interviewed.

Fighting and siblings tend to go together like ham and eggs, bread and butter and beer and chips. They are natural bedfellows. 
 
In my book One Step Ahead I introduced the BEAR it, BEAT it or BOOT them out strategy when children fight. That is, parents just put up with fighting, move to another part of the house or ask them to fight outside when they arguing becomes too intense. This 'leave them to it' strategy is just one approach.  

You do need to model good conflict resolution skills and give kids opportunities to solve their problems themselves.
Many teens fight physically because they've never been shown how to argue of use words.Some kids have no idea how to resolve fights verbally.

Healthy families know how to fight well.  Parents can help their children best by suggesting how they resolve their fights. 
Suggestions could include taking turns,giving way, bargaining and swapping.

Children without siblings could learn conflict resolution skills by spending time with other peers and friends, and having parents who are willing to argue with them without coming on to strong or laying down the law.

For ideas to help you teach your kids to fight well visit www.parentingideas.com.au .

Tags:
  • arguing
  • children
  • children's
  • conflict
  • fighting
  • fights
  • resolution
  • sibling
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