What can I do?
18m+ Feed other needs.
Think about their ages and stages.
It can be frustrating for older kids when younger siblings disrupt their play. Have toys/activities for different ages and abilities. Sort out some special toys that they don’t have to share.
Think about their different personalities.
Differences in your children’s personalities can increase fighting. Exploring their individual temperaments might help you understand their behaviour better and find ways you can help to work out their differences. Read more about temperament.
Try not to compare your kids.
Be even with praise and attention and try not to compare your kids - especially in front of them. This will only increase resentment and make them more likely to fight. Look for opportunities to praise and encourage their co-operative play.
Have one on one time doing something you both enjoy.
- Try and have some focused time most days with each child individually - even if it’s only 10 or 15 minutes, it will make a big difference to their behavior.
- Schedule a set time for each child so it becomes part of the routine and something for them to look forward to. You could mark it on the calendar or even set a 7 day challenge! <link>
- Take turns picking the activity from a list you make up together. Or if you’re stuck for fun fast cheap ideas try out the SKIP Tiny Adventures app.
Arrange for them to have time apart.
- Do they get a chance to have time away from each other? Do they have friends of their own to play with?
- Siblings are together a lot of the time each developing different skills at different times. Maybe work out some ‘swaps’ with friends or family to give them a break from one another.
- Arrange some visits to their friends’ or cousins’ homes to play and have them come to your house too sometimes. Watch and see how a ‘visitor’ might affect the sibling behaviour patterns
Feed other needs.
Time for some kai? Hungry kids can be aggro kids.
Are they tired? Younger kids may need a nap. Older kids might need downtime, read them a story.
Are they bored? Have they had one-on-one time with you today? What have you played together?
Invite some other same aged kids to come over to play.
Make sure there is enough to play with.
You don’t need heaps of things but have enough activities/toys to cater for their individual developmental needs. Activities like play dough, water-play, sand pits helps them play alongside each other. Chalk, crayons, and craft activities can cater for individual creativity and skills within the same activity.
Don't leap in straight away.
When kids argue, it’s best to give them a chance to sort it out themselves. So wait a few minutes and listen to see if the problem is resolving itself. Listen and watch discretely to see what is going on. If they do sort it out themselves, tell them they did well. Praise older siblings for making allowances for younger ones – try and give them extra attention when you can in recognition.
Ask for their ideas to solve the problem.
If they keep fighting, don’t try and find out who started it. Ask them for their ideas for how to solve the problem. Help them decide – eg choose three crayons each. Set a timer to help them with taking turns.
Separate without punishment.
If the fighting keeps happening, give them a warning that they’ll need to play separately if it happens again. If it does act quickly. Calmly and firmly ask them what they each want to do next -as long as it’s not together. Acting on your warnings shows them you will always follow through.
Play alongside them so you can keep an eye.
You don’t have to always be part of their play, but sometimes investing 15 minutes at the start of an activity can encourage them to play together better without you. Time playing together with them allows you to model skills like negotiation and turn taking.
And what about you?
Over it? Use your phone timer to set a time limit for a play activity – your full attention for five minutes is better than half pai for longer.
Had enough? You may feel like you need alcohol or drugs to relax – but they often make the situation worse, especially when you have to deal with kids. Who could help you cut down or cut it out?