When Siblings Are Arguing, Must Parents Interfere ?
Should parents intervene when siblings argue? Rescuing children from conflict does not prepare them well for life, but there can also be situations where you need to intervene.
In general, depending on the tone of voice and the duration of the vowel sound, I can predict what kind of comment or concern is directed at me. It is “Mama” with two syllables, often spoken in a plaintive voice, who draws my attention to the inevitable: a quarrel between siblings.
Whether it’s the little sibling arguments involved or the open fights that we as parents are ashamed of, we all agree that dealing with disagreements and fighting is one of our greatest challenges. That is the question.
Since toddlers and preschoolers are less communicative, helping them find good ways to share their feelings is inherently important. With seven children under the age of 12, I know that it can be exhausting. At a recent meeting I was in a conversation with a group of friends when my 3-year-old son started crying because his brother sprayed him with a spray gun without permission.Not only did he yell at his brother, he yelled at me too. I knelt next to him and first reminded him to say “Sorry mom”.
After listening to both sides and modeling positive communication, our 5 year old apologized and understood that his younger brother did not want to get wet and was happy to turn the water on his already drenched older sibling. Didn’t I take the time to address the behavior and help? Children use the right words calmly, I’m sure the cycle would have continued. However, there can be a negative outcome when rescuing a child from any compromising situation. Some research suggests that such helicopter upbringing increases social anxiety and depression and makes conflict management difficult.
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We want our children to be able to deal with conflict because it is an inevitable part of life. So, no matter how hard it is to see our kids upset, we should let them get through it sometimes and face the consequences it was the end of the Paw Patrol world. Screeching with jealousy, I was tempted to give them an ice cream to make up for it (and selfish to stop the crying).
Recently, when his younger brother refused to share his lawful food, our 7 year old son told him that he would no longer play cuddly toys with him. He had to understand that coercion for his own good is not beneficial and can be harmful to health. My other rule for any older child is that if they get physical, there will be consequences. Our children learned that hitting is the safest way to get a bucket of water and a scouring pad.
When Parents Should Step In When Siblings Are Fighting
Let’s face it, our kids don’t have a “good moral behavior” button, and neither do we adults, if I remember correctly. Lewis justifies this with mere Christianity. So the next time I get frustrated with myself children’s bad choices and have to ask the big question, “intervene or not intervene,” I must remember Lewis’ declaration that God gave us free will to let us know can choose to love him forever. We couldn’t quite love doing good in the car. And this is where we come into play as parents.