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Sibling fights

My kids are nasty to each other. Arguing, fighting.

I constantly have to play referee.

Are you unhappy with how your children are always arguing, fighting, antagonizing each other and calling names?

You tell them over and over to knock it off, but a minute later they’re at it again. You’re frustrated that the battles never seem to end. You hate how they treat each other. You might even worry that they’ll hurt each other one day?

Maybe you’ve tried things before:

Talking to them calmly about it. Finding out who started it and punishing the “instigator.” Threatening: “Stop arguing or no screens today.” Setting rules: “Now it’s your turn and then your brother’s.” Cajoling: “You have to love each other; you’re brother and sister!”

You wish they would be kinder to each other and have a good relationship. And you keep trying to explain that to them, but it doesn’t seem to work?

How the Unparenting course can help:

Week 4

We dedicate an entire week of the course to sibling relationships. You will learn about four common parenting mistakes that make children fight more, not less. You will feel what children feel when their parents rush in and start trying to set things straight, and you will realize why that can never work. You will learn how to handle their squabbles and fights so that they’ll figure out how to work things out on their own and stop hurting each other.   These are quite simple steps that you won’t find in traditional parenting methods. As soon as you start using them, however, your children will start being kinder to each other. At the same time, they’ll begin to be more responsible and independent.

You won’t have to weigh in on their struggles constantly. They’ll work out between themselves whose turn it is to play on the iPad instead of coming to you in tears: “Mooom, make him give it to me!” Or maybe they’ll come up with an idea for how to take turns on the swing without having to fight over it. They’ll start sticking together more. And when they do argue, they’ll be able to make up without your forcing them to.

This will grow with them. They won’t have trouble getting along when they’re older and the stakes are higher than a swing or LEGO set. And they won’t treat each other like strangers who can’t stand each other.

What parents have to say about sibling relationships after doing the course:

Our biggest success story is definitely in sibling rivalry. In the past, when any minor conflict came up (“Mom, he bit me / pinched me / stole my toy / sat in my spot.”), we spent lots of time talking about WHY and HOW and what to do about it. Pure Teachering and Policing. Now I just ask the “injured party” what would help, they answer me, and it’s back to normal within a minute. And I ask the “guilty party” why they did what they did, because I’d like to understand, and they tell me. I usually find it surprising and instructive. We briefly talk about how to handle it better next time, and it’s over. (He pinched his brother for interrupting him, and no one noticed because everybody’s always talking around here.)

Today’s success story: I was ironing, and the boys (8 and 3) were playing together in the other room. Suddenly I heard a crash, and my older one started getting wound up. This would usually signal the beginning of a major situation. I was about to run over, when I heard the younger one say: “Sowwy, it was an accident.” My older one: “I know, but it still hurts, you know?” A few minutes later they were happily running around the apartment again. Thank you, Unparenting, for teaching me to stop and listen first.❤️

My children surprised me today with how they were able to work things out together. 🙂 My 3-year-old twins were tussling over a toy, and I refused to get involved, because I trusted they could handle it themselves. It started with, “I want it; it’s mine,” on both sides and ended with my daughter asking my son for an apology. He said sorry, and she immediately surrendered the toy of her own free will. How simple. Just ask for empathy and you get it. Sometimes this is how working things out can look. 😉

Eight in the morning, and I’m working at the kitchen table. My older boy (3 ½) gets a chair and opens the fridge, little sister (21 months) close behind. He gets a yogurt and hands another to his sister. He opens his own and his sister’s. They sit down together and eat. I’m so touched I could cry. What a change! Just a month ago they would have fought over who got to the fridge first and who would get what snack. It would have ended with a fight and an angry mom.

All morning they’ve been driving an imaginary car. I keep hearing: “Can you hand me that? Thanks! Come here!” and so on. No hitting, yelling, or calling for my help. They’re real team players who can get along on their own! And me? It’s unbelievable — I’m working; I actually have time to work — which would have been impossible and unimaginable before! I don’t have to deal with scratched faces or fights over toys, and I don’t even have to play with them all the time.

I keep asking myself, “Good grief, what just happened? Were the toothbrushes we bought after your webinar magical?” No, no … I got my son more involved in taking care of his sister — “Could you hand this to her? Could you help her please?” He feels like a big boy when he can help her with something. And you know what else I gave my children? Freedom and love, love, love. … I love my children, but maybe they only feel it now that I’ve started showing it more. Especially my boy. We spend more time cuddling and talking. We spend the afternoon together sometimes.

He was just 22 months when his little sister was born, and it wasn’t easy for him. Now I feel like we are WITH each other again. My son felt like he lost his mother when his sister was born, but now he has her back again. I think that was the key: I’m there for him again, and he’s started seeing his sister as a team member and not as a competitor for Mommy’s love! I’m a happy mother of two, and I’m almost sorry that I have to go back to work.

Hi everybody, I’d like to share our first experience of our children working things out between themselves. The girls (5 and 4) told me they wanted to play LEGO Duplo on the computer. I said, “Right now the computer is free, and you can have it. It’s up to you how you decide to play so you’ll both be happy.” I went to put something away in my office and heard my younger one saying, “I’m going to play first and then you.” The older one didn’t like that and said, “I want to play first too!” Ordinarily I would have stepped in, but I remembered a sentence from your audio, “They have the responsibility!” So how to keep it from ending up in an argument?

I stepped in not as referee but as guide. I described the situation: “There’s one computer and two of you, and each of you wants to play first. How can you manage it so you’re both happy?” It got quiet for a few minutes (while I rejoiced inside, because at least the girls were thinking and looking for solutions in their heads). Then my older one said, “I have an idea. First I’ll go build something out of LEGO bricks, and you play the game. When you’re done, I’ll come and play. Agreed?” Younger daughter: “Okay.” They looked at me, expecting praise: What now? I mustered up one question “All set?” Both nodded their heads. And that was that! Fantastic, we managed to solve the first problem.

My older son is incredibly active, impatient and intelligent, so he can be quite a handful (takes after me I suppose …). Ever since we started Unparenting, the difference around here has been like night and day. The temper tantrums he’d been having at least twice a day at that point? Gone. They disappeared, just like that.

The boys play together beautifully. They’ve stopped arguing and have started working things out together, and they don’t need me to step in. We had 10 days off of school and work, and I was almost bored. After five years I managed to read not one but two books, and we all had a great time. No tantrums, no arguments, good moods all around.

I’m very glad my husband and I are doing this course. It’s wonderful time spent together, and it’s wonderful that we are both changing our approach, supporting each other, and giving each other feedback on situations that go well and on those that do not (although the second kind are less frequent now).

I have a great story from this morning. 🙂 My daughter Klara has an ear infection, so I’m keeping her home from preschool, and her sister Zuzana doesn’t want to go without her. This morning I talked with the girls about what time we would need to leave, fixed them breakfast, and went into the bathroom. As soon as I shut the door, I heard them talking. Zuzana: “I don’t want to go without you.” Klara: “I can’t go today, but if you want I can go drop you off so you don’t cry.” Zuzana: “No, I can go.” Klara: “Do you want to take my teddy bear?” Zuzana: “Okay, thank you.” Klara: “Let’s go eat breakfast so we aren’t late.” It’s just incredible. 🙂 Thank you, Unparenting.

Hello, everybody! We got over the worst sibling phase, and now we’re living the good life! My older boy impressed me yesterday at the playground: Some younger boys we don’t know were there (15 months old, apparently). Our boy (19 months) had a ride-on toy and was playing in the gravel. Then abruptly he decided to ride again, but one of the younger boys got there first. His heart was broken, so I acknowledged his feelings and tried to encourage him to resolve the situation — ideally on his own. 🙂 In the meantime the other boy’s mom ran up and was trying to reason with her son, at which point my older son (3 ½) came up and said, “That’s my brother’s. Can you give it back to him, please?” He stood up for his brother! We’re on the right track.

Yay, I’ve got a story today that I think is a pretty great success! Tom (4 years old) got a gift today. Our toddler (1 year old) immediately came up and started tugging on the plastic wrapping. I expected the older one to erupt into hysterical shouting like usual. But Tom surprised me. He calmly pulled Karolina’s hand from it, saying, “No, no, no. I can’t let you have it. I’m afraid you’ll swallow it.” The little one started wailing, so Tom patted her and said, “I know you want it, but I love you and I’m worried for you, okay?” And he began to sing her a song. The little one looked at him and started smiling at his song. Thank you, Unparenting!

What now?

Look at other topics you’re interested in and keep on exploring the course.