Siblings: they will fight. They will argue. They will disagree nearly every chance they get. Age permitting, there are times when the parent and/or caretaker must intervene. Though it is important to allow them to independently figure out what is right and wrong on their own and together, it can escalate quite quickly, and it’s important to guide them into a neutral and safe conclusion.
Read ahead as we’ve collected 10 tricks to calm young siblings in an argument. Trust us, these will not be rare, and it’s important to try multiple tactics.
10 ENCOURAGE LOVE
This may sound simple and silly, but intervening and reminding them to treat each other with respect and love is incredibly important. While young, siblings will argue and fight over nearly everything.
From toys to parent time, siblings know how to inconveniently intervene and make a mountain out of a molehill. It’s vital that they are reminded that they are siblings, that they do love each other and should respect one another, even in an argument—no matter their age.
9 PHYSICALLY STAND BETWEEN THEM
We’ve all had to do this: you see your two, young children fighting over who-knows-what only to see their eyes glare in anger. There’s only one thing to do: run in between them before some stuff hits the fan.
You jolt up, leaving your hot coffee behind, and stand. Just… stand. It’s important to stop whatever you know what is about to happen from, well, happening. Regain the moment as the parent and/or caretaker. Allow them to feel their big feelings without physically retaliating and reacting inappropriately. Do what you have to do.
8 DISTRACT THEM WITH AN ACTIVITY
We encourage you to involve your young children to regain their emotions and distract them with a separate activity. Often, we naturally separate the children. This too can be effective and good, but a different and positive approach is to encourage them to play a game or participate in another activity together.
This will allow them to refocus their energy on another game while playing together. This depends on how upset they are with each other. We warn you: it may not work if they’ve been arguing for a long period of time. But it could very well encourage them to regroup in a positive way.
7 ASK THEM FOR HELP
As the parent and/or caretaker, you are likely busy with another task of your own. Whether it is folding laundry, washing the dishes, or preparing a snack, it is simple to think of a home task or work task that you can have two little people assist in.
While the two children are in an argument, break them up by asking them to help you. You may have a happier response than expected; children love to help. It’s that simple. You may have to separate their tasks. But, if you can have them participate in the same activity, it may allow them to regain love and calmness towards one another.
6 ASK HOW THE OTHER FEELS
By allowing young children to live in the other’s shoes, this encourages them to sympathize with the other. Everyone reacts for different reasons and some triggers are larger than others. This is natural and okay.
Well into life, we are faced with the reality of dealing with personalities. Siblings can be a great lesson on how to sympathize with other’s reactions no matter how “bad” they may seem. Ask them to understand why the other is disagreeing, and consider another approach.
5 HAVE THEM WRITE EACH OTHER LETTERS
No matter the age, writing is incredibly therapeutic. It is also an incredible way to get feelings across without another individual cutting you off or swaying you to feel another way.
Age permitting, intervene in the sibling’s argument with a pen and paper for each. Have them sit in opposite rooms and write a respectful yet truthful letter to one another. They may write very similar letters or completely different. The opposing child will be able to understand the other without the screams and evil stares.
4 HAVE THEM STEP AWAY
It’s okay if this trick may seem like you’re “at a loss” of options. Simply put, you may just have to separate the children. You may have to do a few of these tricks for them to work in full, but sometimes separating the children from the situation allows them to regain their composure.
It is okay to remove them from a negative situation in order to calm their nerves and reflect on the situation. Ask them to separate before they regroup and discuss the situation. Always encourage them never to suppress feelings and “pretend like it never happened” because it did. And they’ve got to work through it.
3 THE WORD GAME
Here’s a golden trick during an argument between young children: the word game. This game should be played when you feel as though they’re arguing about nothing. They’re tiring themselves out and the screams and yells have just escalated to the point where they are not going anywhere.
The Word Game is a game in which they choose one word at a time to describe how they’re feeling. Whether that word is “mad” or “frustrated,” putting words to feelings can help alleviate tension within their own bodies. In return, they will be able to calm the situation down by expressing how they feel in the moment.
2 ENCOURAGE COMPLIMENTS
Now, this is not to encourage negative behavior. This is to calm down the situation and redirect their energies back into a more positive perspective. Ask them to stop what they are doing (whether that be yelling or pushing) and have them pick something out about the other person they love.
This will throw them off-guard. It will distract them from the moment and allow them to regain their appreciation for the other sibling. Even if this a simple compliment of their sibling’s shirt, any positive feedback will neutralize the situation. Have them go back and forth until they are left laughing or smiling; or, a combination of both.
1 MAKE UP A SPECIAL SENTENCE
Whether you choose a special sentence such as, “Please Stop!” or “Not Acceptable!”, this reference can be used when things get way out of line. If the sibling is doing something they’re notorious for, such as taking their sibling’s favorite toy or stepping on their crafts while they’re being made, a go-to line that they know is serious allows them to hold power in their words.
These sentences must be respected by their other sibling. This way when they are used, the other individual knows that the other must be respected and they’re serious about ending the fight/argument/action right away.