Dear “And You Will Have Kids”:
My children are constantly fighting and squabbling amongst each other. How do I stop this and get some peace and quiet in our house?
Dear Frazzled Mom:
Nothing can sap your energy like squabbling children can. There are some things that you can do to reduce the amount of squabbling. Keep in mind that old habits die hard though. It may take some time before you see a reduction in the amount of fighting and bickering amongst your children, even after you begin to make an effort to help reduce the conflict.
Keep Them Busy
One of the main reasons why children fight is boredom. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you need to structure every minute of your children’s day; children need to learn to manage themselves during down times.
Nowadays, it seems as if many families run non-stop from activity to activity. One of the downsides of this is that children don’t know what to do during quiet times. Sad to say, but fighting does fill up the time when kids are bored! Of course, you want to help your children find positive ways to deal with quite times. You can help them to do this by keeping a box full of craft materials and card games. When you notice that the kids are getting restless and fighting during quiet times, suggest that the find an activity in the box.
Praise the Positives
Children also squabble for attention. Think about it, what is the best way for your children to get your attention? Do they get more of your attention when they are quiet and behaving or when they are loud and fighting? If you are like most parents, you pay more attention to your children when they are loud and fighting. In this way, many parents actually “reward” fighting and bickering amongst their children.
One way to stop this trend is to make a concerted effort to actually praise your children for being good. This can be as simple as stopping your chores to tell the kids that you are proud of them for getting along so well. Or, you could reward their good behavior by taking them out for ice cream.
On the other hand, don’t be too quick to step in to end squabbles when they happen. If your children come to you asking you to “solve” their conflict, resist the urge to quickly solve the situation through punishment. Take the time to sit down with your children and figure out a solution to the problem and take the steps to reduce the likelihood that such a conflict will happen in the future. For example, “Johnny, when you take your brother’s toy, he will get mad. Why did you take your brother’s toy?”
It will take some time and effort to reduce the amount of conflict in your home, but it can be done. Trust me, the results are worth your efforts!