Tips to help with sibling bickering

By Kay Luna

Are you sick of hearing the kids fight in the back seat on long road trips? And at the dinner table … and just about everywhere else???

For those of you who wish Calgon really would take you away when the kids start in, parenting expert Michelle Borba – author of “The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries” – offers these house rules to ease the problem.

* No yelling. When tempers flare and feelings are hurt, the volume decibel tends to rise, causing arguments to quickly escalate and get out of hand. Just remember: the “no yelling” rule isn’t only for the kids. Set a good example and cut out the yelling, too (as hard as that might sound).

* No taking without asking. Property ownership can be a BIG deal. Insist that siblings get permission from the owner before borrowing, using or taking any property.

* No hurtful behaviors. Set a strict policy: name-calling and hitting will not be tolerated, under any circumstances and they will result in a consequence.

* No involvement without evidence. If you are the parent of siblings, you’ve probably spent a good deal of time playing referee. Kids are quick to run to a parent’s aid to help settle their disagreements and if you weren’t a witness to the incident itself, then it can be hard to know exactly what to do. Borba says you should get involved in the conflict only if you actually saw or heard it occur. This will help to keep you neutral and will encourage your kids to adopt strategies to help them work things out for themselves.

* No tattling. Not only is tattling an unattractive quality in kids, it can also breed resentment amongst siblings and can be the central to continuing conflict in a household.

Since my kids are 15 years apart in age, I don’t deal with sibling bickering at home. But I think these are excellent house rules, anyway, even in a daycare setting.

Do you have rules like this in place? What do you do to get the kids to stop bickering with each other?