8 Skills to help Children manage conflict with siblings - Calm Kid Central

Helping Kids Get Along With Others - Parents and Carers

8 Skills to help Children manage conflict with siblings

Siblings all over Australia spent the weekend playing happily together, then fighting, then playing again. Some research shows that younger siblings fight on average every 17 minutes. How did your kids go? It’s challenging to help kids play well with their siblings. But if we can spend a few minutes every now and then, coaching and talking them through starting play, maintaining play, managing conflict and ending play kindly – then the rewards are great – for them and us.

Have a think for a moment about what skills are involved in siblings playing well together.  Here are at least 8 skills kids need to play with siblings/peers:

  • Start the play – i.e make a suggestion about what to do and how, and invite their sibling to join in

  • Maintain the game/play – come up with new ideas about what to do next when things get boring

  • Compromise and be flexible when their ideas don’t work or are rejected

  • Help out a sibling when they get stuck, hurt or frustrated

  • Calm themselves down when they get angry

  • Adjust rules or expectations when other siblings can’t cope with the current play

  • Be able to follow directions or suggestions made by siblings

  • End the play gently when they have had enough without hurting people’s feelings

How skilled are your children at doing each of these things?

More importantly, what is one skill you can pick to work on with them this week?

Helping children work on these skills means having a conversation with them (when they are not already fighting or upset – ie before they are playing), asking them questions, asking them to role play with you and asking about their plans. Working on coaching skills like this – even just a few minutes at a time – can sometimes save parents/caregivers hours of time in dealing with conflict.

If you’d like to read more about this issue:  I’ve been following the work of Dr. Laurie Kramer on this topic – really interesting read for those interested. Click here to read more: http://www.mom-psych.com/Interviews/Kramer-GS1005.html

Click here to watch the Parent video which links to this article.

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