As an only child, I always knew that siblings would squabble but never experienced it first-hand. I saw brothers and sisters squabbling in movies and on TV shows, but my own family life was pretty peaceful since it was just me and my parents. I used to ask my mom for an older sister (so I didn't really get how it worked, of course...) so I did think that being part of a big family would be cool.
Moms who have more than one child definitely love having a big family, but they also know that siblings tend to bicker with one another... and pretty much about anything and everything under the sun. They argue over who gets to eat the last pancake at breakfast, who gets the bigger bedroom, and who gets more toys at Christmas (although moms do their best to make everything totally equal).
Although it can be frustrating for moms to see their little ones not getting along, there are some ways to fix this. Here are 10 sneaky ways that moms can deal with conflict, and 10 tips to get siblings to get along. (Ahhh, that's the sound of silence and siblings who are playing quietly together.)
Here are 10 sneaky ways to deal with conflict...
20 Make Them Wrestle You For A Precious Object
Children love playing games, and Hand in Hand Parenting suggests an absolutely awesome one.
They write, "This game is perfect to play when two siblings are [arguing] over a toy. Pick up a book, cushion, or any object that isn’t really too precious. Tell your children it’s your precious object that you never want to let go of. Hold it really tight then let them wrestle you for it. Repeat with a different object so each child gets a turn grabbing something out of your hands."
This is so sneaky that kids will have no idea that you're helping get rid of any conflict and tension.
19 Challenge Them To Get Along With Everyone In The Family
Lifestyle.howstuffworks suggests, "Challenge your child instead of issuing orders. For example, say, "I bet I can finish my vegetables before you finish yours."
It seems like this would work on siblings who are quarreling. Moms could say something like "I bet I can get along with everyone in this family" or "I bet I can share really well." This is a kind of reverse psychology for sure and it's a sneaky thing that will work. It appeals to the competitive nature of kids who have siblings because they really want to do well and impress their parents. (It totally works on us, too, because if someone tells us that we can't do something or they can do it better, we want to prove them wrong.)
18 Talk In An Over-The-Top Whiny Voice
As this mom wrote on Hand In Hand Parenting "I will talk in an exaggerated whiny voice and be really over the top – aiming for laughter . “No it’s myyyyyy turn on the swing you went first last time . It’s not faiiiiir !!!”
Making kids laugh is another great tactic and it's something that many moms would absolutely love to do. After all, getting your kids to smile and giggle is a nice way to deal with conflict. It would not only diffuse the tension and make the mood and vibe positive once again, but it just feels good to make your kids laugh. They won't know that you're stopping them from arguing with their sister or brother, they'll just be laughing way too hard.
17 Pretend To Be A Reporter
Hand In Hand Parenting also suggests that moms pretend to be a reporter when there is some sibling conflict: "When your children are [arguing], roleplay that you a reporter coming to interview them. Say something along the lines of, ‘’Hello there. I see two children are [quarreling]. Do you need my help? What’s been happening?’"
Could we love this idea any more?! It's funny, adorable, and definitely sneaky. Chances are, your kids would start laughing right away, or would realize that they're not really arguing about anything too important. And you'll breathe a huge sigh of relief that everyone is (finally, hallelujah) getting along.
16 'Who Can Hold A Funny Face The Longest Without Laughing?'
What Do We Do All Day suggests this truly fun game: "Who can hold their funny face the longest without laughing?"
This sounds like a hilarious way to stop the arguing, and it would definitely work. Every mom can probably imagine their little ones totally cracking up during this game and forgetting what the problem was or what they were even upset about. This game would work well since it's a sneaky way to distract the kids, but it seems better than giving kids a cookie or candy bar. Moms know that while that might be effective, it's good to have a healthier (and non-food related) way to deal with sibling conflict.
15 Distract Them With Fun Projects Or Activities
Since distracting kids works so well, why not take things one step further and distract them with a fun activity
Living Well Spending Less writes, "Kids can often become whiny or argumentative simply because they’re bored. In situations where kids are forced to sit still, wear uncomfortable clothing, or be confined for long periods of time–such as a long car trip or rainy day–sooner or later, their patience wears thin and tears and complaints can follow."
If you remember that your children might be arguing because they're not having a fun time, think of a fun activity, and all should be well.
14 Make Them Hold Hands
Happy Hooligans does this: "I make my kids sit on the couch and hold hands. I did it twice with my kids, and now when an an argument is about to break out, I just calmly ask ‘Do you need to hold hands?' They figure out how to solve the issue pretty quickly now."
Having your kids hold hands is super sweet but also sounds so practical and smart. Sometimes, getting your children to actually get along and stop bickering all the time will involve some out-of-the-box thinking. The holding hands trick is one of the best ideas for sure, and you might find that it works really well.
13 Give Them A Choice: Stop Arguing Or Start Cleaning
Happy Hooligans also says that having kids clean can work really well when moms want to stop the arguing. This is honestly such a hilarious (and brilliant) idea. If we were told that we had to clean or stop arguing with our own sibling, we can imagine that we would stop pretty much immediately.
As this blogger says, "So many parents said they make their kids clean the house when they’re bickering needlessly. Given the choice to clean the house or stop arguing, kids will stop arguing every time." It's worth a shot, right? (And even if you have a kid who actually loves to clean, which some kids do, you could give them a not-so-fun cleaning job, and it will still work.)
12 If They Squabble, They Have To Pick A Chore
Happy Hooligans is full of amazing ideas for sibling rivalry and conflict, and they have another trick that moms will want to pay attention to. This one is about chores: "Think of about a dozen chores. Write them on small strips of paper. Laminate them or cover with tape so they can’t get mangled. Explain to your kids that each time an argument breaks out they all have to pick a job out if the job jar. They don’t get to choose; they just grab one. When the squabbling starts, just calmly say, ‘job jar’."
Of all the sneaky ways to deal with arguing siblings, this seems super effective. We can imagine that it would even work on us grown-ups because no one wants to do chores, no matter what age they are.
11 Be A Calm Mom Because They Won't Expect It
Being calm when kids are arguing with one another is kind of reverse psychology that will work so well, you'll wonder why you didn't try it before. (But it's all good because now you've figured out how to get your kids to get along and that is awesome.)
Lifestyle.howstuffworks says, "Stay calm and avoid reacting emotionally when your kids misbehave or are stubborn. Losing your cool sets the stage for a no-win situation." Moms know that staying calm is the best idea in pretty much any situation, but it's especially smart with squabbling siblings who just can't seem to get along at all.
And now for 10 ways to get siblings to bond...
10 Sign Them Up For Something Together
You know that you want your children to get along better, but it can be hard to know what the best thing to do is. Why not sign them up for something together?
As imom says, "When you stumble upon a shared interest between two or more of your kids, maximize the potential. If two of your girls love to dance, let them take some classes or workshops together."
This is a truly sweet idea. It's a subtle way to get them to bond, too, which is always nice and effective. It's great when you're helping your kids get along but not being super obvious about it.
9 Encourage Them To Say 'I Love You' To Each Other
Do your kids tell each other that they love each other? Of course you know that they do feel this way, but if they argue more than they say those words to each other, it could be time to try this strategy.
Psychology Today says, "Include in your bedtime routine a chance for your children to always say "goodnight" and "I love you" to each other. Some families also have the older child read to the younger one before bed, which is a lovely opportunity for bonding."
This will also totally bring a tear to every mom's eye and will be a heartwarming moment.
8 Create Memories On A Trip
Creating memories on a family trip is another way to get siblings to bond and stop arguing. It's a smart idea since you'll be in a new environment, so your kids can have fun exploring together, and they might just forget that back home, they weren't getting along super well. You'll forget too, which will be a nice break from the bickering, and it'll be a great family time.
imom suggests, "Shared experiences create a connection between people. Maybe that’s why family vacations are so important: For the rest of their lives, your kids will have special memories they share with their brothers and sisters and no one else."
7 Mind Your Manners
It's always important for moms to teach their kids how to say "please" and "thank you" and be polite to other people. That's why it can be so tough to watch your children arguing with each other and not being so polite to each other. You've definitely wished that your kids could treat each other the way that they treat their friends and peers.
But all hope is not lost. Even if siblings aren't getting along, keep telling them that manners and being nice are important, as Parents.com suggests. Your kids will learn this and start being nicer to each other.
6 Don't Compare Them
There is something else that could make it tough for your kids to get along, and that includes comparing them. When you say that your kid has done a great job, it's best not to make it about how they did in comparison to their sibling. The Mayo Clinic says, "Comparing your children's abilities can make them feel hurt and insecure. Avoid discussing the differences between children in front of them."
It's inevitable that sometimes you will compare your children, but if you can stop doing it in front of them or making it obvious to them, then it definitely sounds like they will start getting along.
5 Have Them Share A Room
Babble has a great idea for sibling bonding: They can share a room.
If this is possible, it might be a good idea to consider this, even if it's just for a short period of time. Kids love sharing a room because they can have fun and it feels like more of a sleepover than just going to bed on a regular night. Even if your children complain at first, they might end up loving it and maybe they will never even want to go back to having separate rooms (at least not until they're teenagers and definitely want a lot more privacy).
4 All's Fair In Love And Siblings
When you have more than one child, you know that you're often going to hear these words from them: "Mom, it's not fair." Kids will say this about anything, from toys to food to bedtime rules, and sometimes you don't even blame them because sometimes, things just aren't fair.
But making things fair could be the key to helping your children become friendlier toward each other.
As Great Schools says, "Treat them fairly — and understand that to them, that may mean being treated equally. If you’re not going to treat them equally because of, say, their age difference, explain the distinction between equal and fair."
3 Have Your Kid Be Involved In Your Pregnancy
The S. Mommy site suggests that when you're pregnant with your second or third child, you can have your kid be involved so they think of it as a more positive thing.
The website says, "During pregnancy, read aloud weekly emails that provide the update of your baby’s development. Make it a special time when your older child can learn about the process and growth of your developing baby. When older siblings feel that they are an important part of the team that is raising the new baby, they will naturally be protective and take pride in their responsibility in this role."
An awesome idea, right?
2 Have Them Believe They Are BFFs
Great Schools said about mommy blogger Amanda White, "When her children were young (and it was easy), she made them give each other hugs and say, “I love you!” before bed. On a regular basis she says she tells them, “She’s your best friend!” and “You will be best friends forever!” “And you know what?” she writes. “They believe it!”
This is not only a sweet idea but pretty easy to do, too. If you've ever wanted your kids to be best friends and not siblings who argue all the time, this sounds like something that could work really well. Hey, whatever works to get that sibling bonding happening.
1 Family Fun
Understood.org says that family traditions are the key to helping siblings get along better.
The website says watching movies with pizza is a good idea and suggests some other activities: "Or maybe every summer your family hosts its own Olympic games, complete with special made-up events. (Who will be the bottle-top-flicking champion this year?) Or organize an annual yard sale where everyone pitches in—and use the proceeds to do something fun together. These kinds of activities create memories and a shared history that help create lasting bonds."
It's not easy when your kids don't get along, but with these helpful tips, hopefully there will be peace (and sibling love) in your home.