Sibling fighting is common but not inevitable.
Sometimes we are parents get drawn into sibling disputes when they don't involve us. And we become part of the problem, and become involved in the conflict. Here are ten common ways (and behaviours to be wary of) children use to involve parents in their sibling disputes:
1. Beware the teller of tales because they can draw you into disputes you don't need to be in. "Tell Tale children" tend to involve parents in fights and disputes when they don't need to be. Tales also invite parents to take sides, which may mean a fight stops momentarily. However it will begin again at another time as there may be lingering resentment about you taking sides.
2. Beware the blame gamers for it is never, ever their fault! Some children will blame other siblings for wrong-doing but will rarely see their side in a dispute. It usually takes two or three to tango so make sure you point out their place in the dispute.
3. Beware the tantrum-throwers as they divert attention away from themselves. Kids who throw a wobbly when a sibling even looks at them in the wrong way have found a great way to keep mum or dad busy with them. We often back off when kids throw a wobbly.
4. Beware of children's tears as they can make us feel pity rather than look at the whole story. A child who comes to you with tears in her eyes and a tale of woe sure knows how to get their parents onside. Tears work really well to gain sympathy but sometimes the person who cries the loudest is the child who caused the dispute in the first place.
5. Beware of children who say that they couldn't help hitting, hurting or misbehaving. Children always have a choice. They just choose the easy way or a way that suits them a lot of the time.
6. Beware of the child who is always, always the victim. Sometimes they revel in this role. Some children, particularly youngest kids, love to play the victim in fights and arguments with their siblings. "He always picks on me" is their catchcry. Don't give these children too much attention and give them some options about how they can keep away from their siblings if things look likely to ‘cut up rough’.
7. Beware of the child who acts like the deputy sheriff, always giving orders and bossing others around. They can make life unpleasant at home. First born boys can sometimes act like your deputy and believe it is their job to keep peace on the ‘family range’. Only trouble is they use methods more akin to the ‘wild west’ than you would learn in any negotiation skills workshop. Violence and power is their preferred methodology. Keep a firm eye on these kids and don't put them in charge of the ‘family range’ too often.
8. Beware the donkey who whines and whinges about his siblings -"Hee Hawlways picks on me!" Give them some ideas about how to deal with their siblings and refuse to drawn by incessant whining. Mind you, like water torture , whining gets to you after a while.
9. Beware children who bring home poor attitudes and behaviours that they learned at school or pre school . You can tell sometimes what is happening in the schoolyard as children can bring home the same conflict resolution skills that they practise in the schoolyard and it is not always pretty. We treat each other well in this family is the message!
10. Beware of the home environment that uses power to resolve disputes and conflict. Children will often reflect the way that the significant adults in their family resolve conflict so make sure you use the same methods to sort out issues and disagreements with your partner that you want your children to adopt. Children tend to live what they see so make sure they see conciliation and compromise rather than bullying and power. Make sure they see assertiveness rather than aggression. And make sure they see you looking at both sides of the picture rather than your side all the time.
Michael Grose is Australia's NO. 1 parenting expert. He is the director of parentingideas, the author of seven books for parents and a popular presenter who speaks to audiences in Australia, Singapore and the USA. Get your FREE Chores and Responsibilities for Kids Guide when you visit http://www.parentingideas.com.au Get a hold of Michael's sensational new book Why First Borns Rule the World and Last Borns Want to Change It at http://www.michaelgrose.com You'll be astounded when you learn about your birth order personality and how the position in your family impacts on your life!