5 practical tips for teaching your kids to get along

October 13, 2015

Any parent of more than one child is likely familiar with these phrases: "Quit it!" "I'm telling mom!" and "I hate you!" These are common expressions of sibling rivalry. And while any psychologist or behavioural scientist will likely explain this behaviour as "normal," it's not easy to take when you're navigating a minivan through rush hour traffic.

Thankfully, here are five tips to help you encourage your kids to stop fighting and learn to get along.

5 practical tips for teaching your kids to get along

1. Just walk away

The quickest way to prevent an argument before it escalates into a full-on war? Just walk away.

Teaching kids to identify and avoid bad situations is a valuable lesson. From watching for warning signs to redirecting negative energy into more positive channels, knowing when to check out is a lifelong skill that you can get your kids started on when they're young.

2. Give credit

When one of your children behaves in an admirable way during a time of conflict, offer plenty of praise.

For example, walking away from an argument or attempting to negotiate a disagreement shows maturity. And, if you acknowledge this sort of behaviour, you might just inspire your child to try it again in the future.

3. Boundaries matter

We all have limits, and we all know what it feels like when these limits are disrespected or disregarded. As such, if a child has followed the prescribed course of behaviour and walked away from a verbal or physical altercation, that space should be sacred.

Unfortunately, in some cases another sibling will not respect this attempt at drawing the line. If your child's boundaries aren't being respected, parental back up is necessary.

4. Consequences count

Imagine going through life alongside someone who constantly wronged you but never faced any consequences. This is what it feel like for many kids — particularly those with "spirited" or oppositional siblings.

While siblings might alternate being on the giving and receiving end of opposition it's essential to make sure that there's a consequence for every wrong.

So don't allow the easy path to interfere with the right path: restitution is a necessary part of keeping the peace.

5. Teach self-awareness

Kids who understand themselves and their triggers are more likely to avoid negative situations. They can also cope better should a stressful conflict arise.

Just remember that kids are able to manage their own emotions better if they feel some control or ownership over the situation.

To help foster this sense of control in your kids, have a discussion with them about how to identify their own triggers in order to proactively avoid them.

Siblings will fight

The truth is that siblings are going to fight. Why? Because that's what siblings do. But these five tips can help your kids fight less and maybe reach a mutual understanding that can help them get along. What more can you ask?

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