How to Immediately Curb Sibling Bickering

Dear Kid Whisperer,

Today my 6-year old was fighting with his brother. I told him to go in his room, but he would not go. I have attended one of your conferences, so I knew to delay the consequence. I felt like I was losing control by delaying, since he kept fighting with his brother and he refused to go to his room (he’s too big to carry in there). What consequences would I use for this? -Tonia, Eau Claire, Wisconsin


First, great work delaying. Your feeling of a loss of control is totally normal, since most parents have been wrongly programmed to think they have to take care of everything right away.

Here’s a quick intervention to make you feel better next time. I will give you a consequence for him refusing to go to his room after I give you the intervention. It will require a quick conversation with your husband before the next time your kid is mean to his brother.

Kid Whisperer: Oh, dear. I will be doing something about this. Don’t let it ruin your day.

Kid: I hate you and I hate my brother and I am the king of the world which I own and you can’t stop me and I own this house and everything in it and you can’t stop me as I have already stated.

Kid Whisperer: Yikes. (to husband): It’s time. The thing we talked about has happened. Thanks. Have a good time.

Kid Whisperer: (to Kid) Oh dear. I don’t want to subject your brother to your meanness. Your dad and your brother are going to go take a break from you while they get ice cream. Maybe by the time they get back, you will be acting pleasant.


Kid Whisperer: Yikes

Kid Whisperer walks away, while husband and brother go get ice cream.

Later, probably at least a day later, when all is calm and good, you can give a consequence:

Kid Whisperer: Yikes. Honey, from time to time, I may require you to go to your room if and when you become unpleasant. It is very important to our family that you go when asked. You can always come back as long as you can be pleasant upon returning. You are presently struggling with going to your room when asked. Part of this may be my fault, in that I may have not made it clear that you could come back as soon as you could be pleasant. Still, you need to be an expert at going to your room when asked. How many times do you need to practice going to your room until you are an expert: 10 times or 15 times?

Kid: NO TIMES, PEASANT! Prepare the car for immediate transport to my playground of choice!

Kid Whisperer: 15 times it is. I will tell you to leave our family area and go to your room until you can be pleasant. You then will have to walk to your room, stay as long as you want–a half second is fine–and then come back. Once you have done this 14 more times while being pleasant, you will be telling me that you are an expert at this.

Kid: What if I decide not to do the bidding of a peasant like yourself?

Kid Whisperer: You don’t have to. This will be the only place you are allowed to be until you get 15 practices successfully done, or you turn 18 and move out of the house. I’ll love you no matter what.

Stay calm, stay firm, and train your kid to be someone you enjoy being around!