Q&A: Bickering Children

PROBLEM: Bickering Children!

Hi, I’m Heather.  I have 2 kids, ages 3 1/2 and 6.  My issues with discipline are self-induced. I don’t follow through, and I need some help staying the course.  I don’t want to feel helpless anymore!  My kids have reached a point where almost all they do is fight with each other. Adam is 6 and Katherine is 3 1/2. Katherine is really good at antagonizing her brother, and Adam has a really hard time ignoring her or letting things roll off his back.  I want to nurture their brother/sister bond, but am at a total loss as far as where to start.  Help?

ANSWER:

Hi Heather. Here are some tips for bickering children that you may or may not have already tried:

Find ways to put Adam into a role of “teacher” for Katherine.  Make it fun for him and praise him when he does a good job.  He could teach her age-appropriate topics such as letters, feelings, manners, etc. 

Purchase a toy or activity that they could do together and only allow them to use it when they are playing together nicely.  Supervise them as they play and intervene as necessary.  If problems persist, then take the toy/activity away and try again another day. 

Find ways to get them to work together to accomplish a task.  For instance, you could
have them work together to make cookies then let them each have one if they work well together well. 

Teach positive social skills. Many times, children don’t get along because they don’t know how to or they don’t have the necessary skills to do so.  Practice role-playing various situations and use that activity as a way to reinforce positive social skills. 

Make them feel good about their actions each time they do something nice for the other.  Point it out when possible then give praise.

When both of my daughters antagonize each other or end up bickeringbickering children, I send them both to their rooms and tell them that whoever goes to their room the quickest and the quietest will get out first.  I also tell them that if they both go straight to their rooms and both remain in there quietly, then they both get to come out sooner and at the same time.  This works almost every time.  By the time they get out they forget what they were arguing about in the first place!

I hope that you can use at least a couple of these tips to alleviate the bickering.  Good luck!