Dear Kid Whisperer,
What skills do you have to help with the issue of sibling arguing ?!? I have this issue and all the parents I know have this issue, but no advice is given! So I am looking for your advice! Thanks!
Thanks for the question, Kelley! First off, I want to begin by rearranging your thinking a little bit in such a way that will help you to reboot your brain in order to more effectively deal with this problem. YOU do not have an issue with sibling arguing, your children have an issue with sibling arguing. YOUR only issue is with two kids being annoying in your presence! Their arguing is their problem, not yours! As soon as you make it your problem, you have made your life worse and made this negative behavior more likely to intensify and repeat.
Have you noticed that the closer we are to our kids, the worse the arguing gets? The main reason for this is that kids know that if the arguing escalates, an adult is there to “take care of it”.
We cannot control whether kids argue with each other. Therefore, we don’t try to control it! Trying to control the uncontrollable leads to stress and to kids seeing us as weak. What we can control is the location of the arguing. Where should arguing take place? Away from you! Doesn’t that sound pleasant? You don’t want to be around it, your presence is exacerbating the arguing anyway, so why put yourself through it?
Here’s how a Love and Logic (R) parent might handle it:
When your kids start to argue, give them this choice:
“Feel free to be pleasant inside the house or argue in the yard.”
Hope with all of your might that they continue with their argument indoors so that you can escort them outside with calmness and empathy and with this question:
“Where does arguing happen around here?”
The key, as always, is to do this with smiling, calm empathy. This communicates to your kids that their argument is their problem.
Let them argue in the yard for as long as they want. Be glad that they are learning real-world lessons about what arguing gets you and how effective being nasty isn’t! And all of this can happen by you doing nothing. Again, if they come back inside and continue to argue, just go back to the same question: “Where does arguing happen around here?” and escort them outside if necessary.
By the way, hope that your kids argue when it is very hot, very cold or when it is raining. Your conversation could go like this:
You: Where does arguing happen around here?
Kid: Wha- but, it’s… raining!
You: Oh, man. I don’t know what to tell you.
Walk away… and scene.
By the way, it’s a good idea to be able to put yourself in a position to monitor your kids while they argue if you think they might either leave your property or seriously injure each other. I recommend sitting by a window with a book or otherwise positioning yourself in a monitoring position, while not giving them attention. Safety first. Feel free to “spy”, try not to let them know that you are monitoring them.
Remember, their arguing is their problem. When great parents get handed a problem by their kids, we hand it back to them in a calm and loving way!
Have fun trying this out! Let me know how it went!
-The Kid Whisperer