Lately we’ve been super busy and out of our normal routine, so we’ve noticed that our kids have been at each others throat about–every. single. thing. Here are 3 Simple Steps to Help Your Kids with Sibling Rivalry.
One morning after I had enough, I was determined to nip this in the bud before it got out of hand. So we had a family meeting to discuss this behavior. Our boys overall are great playmates but they go through periods where they are constantly unkind to each other.
In our family meeting, they all agreed that our home was becoming a “war zone” instead of a safe zone for each other.
Remember that family mission statement we came up with? Well here’s where it came into play in our daily life. One of the statements is, “Our home is a safe place…” so I mentioned that in our family meeting but right now the unkind words are making our home a “war zone”.
With this they also get life skills…
I want my children to feel confident about changing their own behavior but also to learn to communicate with one another.
Most importantly, through the 3 simple steps below, our boys are learning valuable life skills — apologies, talking things through and finding resolutions on their own.
I recently came across an article by Richard and Linda Eyre who are authors of many great parenting books. In the article they shared this idea of the “Repentance Bench” which I thought I need to try this. Inspired by their idea I came up with–“Talk It Out Time”. This is what they say about their “Repentance Bench”–
It didn’t work perfectly at first. Kids would insist, “I did nothing wrong — it’s all his fault.” But after a few talks about how it “takes two to tangle” and discussions about teasing and “provoking” they started realizing that they would be on the bench forever if they couldn’t think what they had done in the conflict. ~Richard and Linda Eyre
How to Do “Talk It Out Time!”
One of the things I share with my boys regularly is that being angry, upset or frustrated with someone is okay. But it’s what we do with that anger that can get us in trouble. This is how “Talk It Out Time!” looks like in our home.
Download and print off this FREE PRINTABLE and then tape it to the wall near where your children will talk it out.
What usually happens in our home is they agitate each other over silly stuff like he’s looking at me funny. He’s making silly noises at me. He’s farting on me. I’m not joking about that last one. So now I send them to talk it out time and it has worked wonders.
Regardless, of how silly it may seem, they are upset because the other child won’t stop. Well, they get so angry they burst and either yell or hit their brother. So, that’s when I get the tears and the loud—MOOOMMMMYYYY!
Here’s where Talk It Out Time! comes in. When the upset child calls for me and tells me that his brother is making fun of him, I simply say, “Sounds like you need to talk it out at the stairs.”
In the past, I would play the referee, but not anymore!
So they walk over to the stairs. I usually have the oldest start the process. The first couple of times, I walked them through the 3 steps and then when I they got the hang of it I had them do it themselves. If they forgot what to do, I just have them read the printable as a guide.
3 Simple Steps to Help Your Kids with Sibling Rivalry
Step 1. Each child will say what they did by using “I” statements. It’s not a time to accuse.
Child A–I got upset and hit you after you took my car.
Child B–I kept knocking your toys over and taking them.
If the child doesn’t know what they did then they can ask their sibling for details, “I don’t know what I did. Can you tell me?”
Step 2. Here they will share how it made them feel.
Child A–It made me mad that you knocked my cars over because I worked hard at setting them up.
Child B–I was feeling jealous because you looked like you were having fun and I couldn’t play.
Step 3. Apology! Here it’s important that they go through the 3 step apology process. It’s–I apologize for…, Next time, I will… and Will you forgive me?
It looks like this:
Child B–I apologize for knocking your toys over and taking them.
Next time, I will just ask you if I can play with you.
Will you forgive me for knocking your cars over and taking them?
Child A– I apologize for hitting you. Next time, I will just ask you to stop. Will you forgive me for hitting you?
It may take a while for them to get used to this because of course having you as the referee is so much better, but keep at it.
Each time they have a squabble or argue have them practice this process.
Has “Talk it Out Time!” worked?
As I mentioned to you, we have only been doing this for a little over 3 months but my kids have the 3 step process down. I’ve even used it when we are out and about and they know exactly what to do.
It has worked wonderfully but not without any quirks and adjusting. This has curbed the sibling rivalry but this hasn’t kept our kids from fighting. It HAS helped them communicate in the midst of the frustration and anger. And I am no longer a “referree” which just for that reason alone I am excited!
Remember, your goal as a parent is to teach and guide them.
Did you know that the word”discipline” comes from the root word “disciple” which means to teach. Here we are not only teaching them and guiding them on conflict resolution but we are helping them learn how to communicate with each other when they are upset or have wronged someone.
It works for adults too!
I give workshops to adults on conflict resolution in the workplace, and more adults need to learn how to “talk it out!” in a healthy way.
One day my husband and I were not agreeing on something silly and my son came over and said, “It sounds like you need to go to Talk It Out Time!” So, I guess we can also learn a thing or two along the way.