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Help! My Kids Are Fighting!

"My kids are fighting so often I just want to pull my hair out!"

"They are supposed to love each other. I just don't get it."

"I feel like I could be replaced by a recording yelling, STOP FIGHTING! (Not that it would do any good!)

These are some comments I hear from the frustrated parents I coach sharing their feelings about their kidos fighting this summer.

Speaking from experience, I know dealing with kid's fighting can be gut wrenching and exhausting. However, try reframing their fighting.

Instead of looking at your kid's fights as an excruciating experience to be stopped, try to view it as an opportunity to teach them the essential life skill of conflict resolution... that may take awhile.

Here are "9 Ways to Effectively Manage Kid's Fighting":

9 Ways To Effectively Manage Kid's Fighting

1. Don't take sides.

When we rescue one child from the other, we have made one special for being the victim and one for being the bully. Try not taking sides. Children need to learn how to deal with bullies and practice on how not to be the victim. (Unless physical abuse is occurring.)

2. Put them in the same boat.

For example if two children are fighting over a toy, take the toy away and tell them they can have it back when they have come to an agreement. If they are fighting over which book they want you read, leave the room and tell them to come and get you as soon as they agree on which book you will read. If they are fighting in the car, pull over and tell them that as soon as they stop fighting, you will drive again. This method teaches them to cooperate and that they are their "brother's keeper."

3. Make an agreement with the family about fighting.

Example, one family decided that if there was fighting, anyone could turn on loud music and they would all have to dance (including mom and dad!). This broke up the tension and they would all end up laughing.

4. Schedule activities.

Children get bored easily. Make a plan for the day with your children the night before to avoid boredom blues. Make sure you schedule in some "down time" for both you and your kids.

5. Avoid excess screen time.

Have you noticed that your children get crankier after being on the screens to long? It's true and they get bored faster if they get lost in the "screen vortex." Teach them how to manage their screen time.

6. Teach repair.

Threats, punishment and separation may get the fighting to stop immediately but they don't teach your child anything in the long run.Teaching your child how to repair a relationship that has been hurt is an essential life skill.

7. Ask, "How do you think what you just did affects your sister/brother?"

Young children often don't understand the affect that their behavior has on others. This question starts children thinking about consequences of their actions and empathy.

8. Teach win/win negotiation.

Parents often tell their kids to stop fighting but they frequently don't teach them "how." Take time to teach them the valuable life skill of win/win negotiation. This will take time but, it is well worth the effort.

9. Teach them how to get each other's attention appropriately.

Children often fight to get each other's attention because they don't have the skill to get it appropriately . Give them tools to get the attention they are wanting. For example, teach them how to say things like, "Can I play with you?" instead of kicking their sibling's blocks over.

Parenting Practice :

This week, when your kids start fighting, ask yourself, "What life skill could I teach them right now that would be an investment into their life skills toolbox?"

Kathryn Kvols

Author, Lecturer, Parenting Coach

(352) 494-1581

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