When Siblings Fight: Parenting Advice
Kids Behavior Problems. We are not our parents
My favorite ironic parenting scene: Mom grabs her child and whacks him on the back of the head, stop that! How many times have I told you not to hit your brother? OK maybe this scene isn’t as common as it used to be but for my parent’s generation it was quite typical and very few people at the time saw the irony in it. Most parents just didn’t equate their punitive whacks to their child with the hitting behavior of their kids. Well guess what folks; monkey see, monkey do.
My brother and I had a few good knock down drag out battles when we were young. I think our parents were doing their very best. I really do. They just didn’t really know any other options other than separating us or spanking us. It appears that fighting is still one of the more common kids behavior problems. And it doesn't help that many cartoons and TV shows still have a lot of smacking and whacking going on in them and quite simply, kids emulate what they see.
There are also still many parents who believe in spanking. They don’t believe it hurt them and if it was good enough for their parents then it must be good enough for them. I understand having loyalty to ones parents but raising our kids a little differently isn’t a slap in the face to our parents. It’s just that we have found better ways to parent. Their is a lot of parenting advice available and parents should learn to discipline children without hitting.
Parenting tips for when kids hit each other.
The long and short of it is that we only intervene when they actually hit each other. Otherwise kids will argue as a normal part of sibling rivalry. It’s better to let them figure out how to problem solve on their own without parents stepping in and always playing referee. When we see them trying to reason and cooperate we definitely need to take notice. It’s always important to catch our kids when they do things we like and not just when we notice our 'kids behavior problem'.
When we do need to intervene we want to use time outs. We just need to quickly let them know they are in time out for arguing and that’s it. There is nothing further that needs to be said during the timeouts or after them. Try not to get in the habit of just timing out one child. It takes two to argue and when we start to play judge and jury it can allow our kids to try to manipulate us. Often the instigator is the one getting hit. Yes the hitting isn’t OK but our goal is to encourage cooperative play for both children as much as possible, and not end up seeming like we are engaging in favoritism. When arguing leads to someone getting hit, it is best to cool off both kids by using time outs.
Parenting advice: Being persitent
When the time out is finished its best to throw them back in the water and see if they can swim. Remind them they are more than capable of getting along and that our differences with each other shouldn’t lead to violence. Remember, it’s hard to make that statement if you spank your kids. For parents who use spanking I can only say good luck. You’re on a slippery slope when you start to justify one kind of hitting but not another.
One of the parenting tips parents need to hear is that for time outs to work a parent has to be very consistent and persistent. Some kids will keep testing and testing. It is easy for a parent to give up and just separate their children. But for some kids behavior problems it can take as many as 30 timeouts before they are able to really get the message. A parent has to be pretty dedicated to get this message across but if you really don’t want your kids fighting then plan to spend the better part of a day trying to reinforce the message that you want them to play peacefully and that you draw the line at hitting.
One last piece of parenting advice
Stay cool while setting limits. Remember for this approach to work the parent has to be firm
and confident when enforcing the timeouts. However, getting angry or upset may
undermine the whole process because your negative attention maybe more
important to your children than their need to avoid a timeout. Children will
seek out negative attention for a variety of reasons so as parents we need to
expend more effort reinforcing what they do right and calmly setting limits and
boundaries when problem behaviors do arise. Of all the parenting advice parents can hear regarding their kids problem behavior it's; be persistent, stay calm, and follow through when using timeouts.
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