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Help siblings resolve disputes themselves

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US funny man Bill Cosby once said that parents aren’t interested in justice when their children fight; they just want peace.

I’ve got to agree. So often we go to the child who will most likely listen and enlist their help to make peace.

“Just give it back. I know he shouldn’t have taken it but I just can’t stand the fighting!” Anything for some quiet!

However I think smart parents continuously coach their children in the art of resolving sibling conflict peacefully, or at least with a minimum of noise and disruption.

Here are some conflict resolution tricks to teach your kids:

1.Encourage them to read their siblings so they can avoid negative situations. This is all about avoidance and stopping fights before they start.

2. Teach children how to set boundaries. “You can come into my room but you have to stay out of my toy cupboard. Ok?”

3. Praise problem-solving. Make a fuss when they work things out peacefully whether it’s compromising, taking turns or one child just giving way.

4. Help children identify the triggers for getting upset themselves and also when their sibling is likely to lose their cool. We all have hot buttons that when pressed will trigger and over-reaction. Help kids work out their hot buttons.

5. Teach respect. Respectful treatment is at the heart of civil relationships. Keep reminding kids to treat each other with respect; stick to dignified behaviours and also to stay within the rules of fair play.

6. Ensure restitution. Perhaps the biggest lesson kids can learn is to restore a relationship after conflict. “How can you fix this?” is question many kids need to hear.

Parenting should reflect real life as much as possible. In the world outside families, people don’t always like each other but they do need to get on with each other. These lessons about getting on are best learned in your family as a child.

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