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Sibling Fighting

by Robyn

I have a set of 10 year old boy/girl twins. I consider myself quite fortunate as, outside of this issue, things are pretty good. They do well in school, are liked by their peers and adults. They are both athletic and have received several character related awards.

I just have this one issue that I have yet to get a handle on. Although my daughter is not totally innocent, my son tends to be the one to instigate most of the fights.

A big one is his going into her room- when she is in there- without permission and refusing to leave. She does start out asking him to leave, but when he refuses to do so, she gets louder and begins to get physical. These are often her ways of trying to get out of the situations with him. He can also tease her, look at her funny, etc. and she will still respond the same way. Fortunately, no one has been hurt yet and although they do hit at each other, they have never been cruel.

I've tried putting them together (I've been using the bathroom) and telling them not to come out until the issue is resolved, but how do you handle it when one is consistently the instigator. It's not quite fair to the other one.

Thanks in advance for your help.

Comments for Sibling Fighting

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Fighting Siblings Part One
by: Annie Desantis

Hi Robyn,

Sibling conflict is something most parents find hard to deal with. And in the case of twins they have been jostling for "space" since in your womb. Hard though it is for you, their conflicts and power plays are actually a good learning
for them.

Now, how to manage it? Sorting things out at the time with kids in the heat of a conflict is not always productive. On the whole you would be better to opt out of the loop! You are adding energy to the whole dynamic by trying to fix it or make them get on. Your son gets your energy, probably in a negative way, and your daughter is getting a bit of victim mentality reinforced.

Put your energy into reinforcing the behavior you like. Hold a clear vision of what you want, and when you hear them arguing, use that as YOUR cue to stay centered and focus on holding your vision. Maybe YOU need time out! Take a walk or go out of hearing range if it is affecting your ability to stay calm and centered.

Putting them in the bathroom to sort it out is kind of on the right track in that it is letting them sort it, but it has still got you hooked into intervening, and probably you are angry or annoyed, not cool calm and collected!

Maybe your kids are providing a lesson for you! What happens to you when you hear your kids fighting? How was conflict dealt with in your family as a child? How do you feel when you hear yelling or arguing? It may be your kids are
playing out stuff so you can clean up your energy! It can be amazing sometimes when parents get clear and suddenly things that seemed to be issues with the kids, no longer happen!

Part Two Follows . . . .



Fighting Siblings - Part Two
by: Annie Desantis

Part Two . . . .

Kids need to flex their muscles, test out, push against to learn what works. And in this case when you intervene the pay off is certainly your attention and energy.

The more you all see this as a problem, then the more energy you are adding to it. I know it is really hard when kids are yelling and shoving each other not to get knocked off your own center! I hated when my kids squabbled, but I came to see often I made it worse, or turned it into something much more. Kids usually have a flare up and then it is over in a few minutes. If this is something ongoing, which this sounds like, then helping them to work out what they really need and finding better ways to get that is more productive.

Kids are providing each other (and us!) with learning opportunities. Maybe you daughter wants more privacy and her space respected. She needs
to learn to project herself as centered and in her own power, whereas she lets herself get pushed off that by his comments, or a look. So he may be teaching her, or giving her experiences to stay centered and strong.

Maybe your son wants more responsibility or power, maybe he wants more attention. Perhaps she is giving him the opportunities to take control or to take charge. Is there other ways he can get this in the household? Can he have responsibility or decision making over something? Is he competing for attention, is he the bad kid and she is the good kid? Maybe he needs more one on one from you?

Have a family meeting about what they want different in their relationship and focus on helping them get what they want. Kids sometimes wind each other up, to get parental attention, albeit negative. Some kids actually like the energy of conflict or testing against each other and when parents intervene they then join forces against you!

Is this your problem, disliking the conflict? Does your daughter really want to deal with it differently? What is he trying to get when he annoys her? He wants her energy and attention, maybe yours, maybe he likes the power he feels when he pushes her buttons?

Switch the focus towards getting what they want, rather than pushing against what they dislike. Help them to try different behaviors that bring them different responses. Ask them what would work better (assuming they want it to!)

Sounds like you have a couple of wonderful kids, doing well, achieving, lots of energy. Focus on what you love about them and you can't go wrong!

Have a Wonder-filled Christmas,
Annie Desantis

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