Kids Fighting? Don't Send Them to Their Rooms - Teach Them to Get Along
It's standard operating procedure for a parent with fighting kids: If you're feeling particularly energetic, you stop to figure out who did what and maybe even who started it (or not), and then you send your kids to their room.
Turns out, it's time to throw away that parenting manual.
A researcher from the University of Illinois says that approach is not the best one for raising siblings who can get along. By focusing on the conflicts between kids, parents are preventing them from learning how to work things out, Laurie Kramer, professor of applied family studies, writes in the journal Child Development Perspectives.
"Even if you're successful at reducing conflict and antagonism, research suggests that you'll probably be left with little positive interaction between siblings," Kramer says in a statement. "Do you really want your kids to head for their rooms and spend time mainly on their own interests and with their own friends?"
A better approach, Kramer writes, is to think about what kind of relationship parents would like their kids to have with one another, and then give them the tools to develop it. That means, among other things, showing them how to consider things from one another's perspective, helping them identify and manage their emotions, teaching them not to assume the worst about their siblings' intentions and that conflict is a problem that can be solved.
In doing so, it's important to meet each of your children's individual needs without playing favorites and encourage play and mutual interests. Also, show them they can use their unique understanding of each other to strengthen their relationship and praise them when they cooperate with one another.
"If you love the idea of your kids just having fun together, schedule more family activities and help to make that happen," Kramer says. "If you do have big problems with fighting among your kids, help them learn and practice strategies for solving problems and managing conflicts."
Kramer is the creator of the More Fun With Sisters and Brothers program, which teaches children how to interact with their siblings in a positive manner.
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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.