Family conflict is normal. It can be healthy for parents to argue in front of children. Kids can learn from parents how to argue effectively, with purpose, and how to apologize and move forward.
Sibling conflict is expected. Parents, avoid moralizing. You can’t make your kids love or respect their siblings. The kids are not “bad” if they are jealous of or mean toward each other. Instead of lecturing why “you should be a model big sister for your brother,” or “you should defend your sister when other kids say mean things to her.” Focus on your children’s behavior, instead. Behavior methods increase sibling peace.
There are many desired social behaviors: patience, willingness, adaptability, generosity, cheerfulness, compliance, and so on. “Teach” your child one skill a day, and assign her to show that skill three times with her sibling. Consider enacting a token economy for this. She can get a token when she shows the desired behaviors. When she gets X number of tokens, then she is
provided a pre-determined reward. The reward doesn’t have to cost anything. It could be permission to stay up 10 minutes late, the opportunity for a second dessert, or more individual time with a parent.
When parents feel overwhelmed with family conflict, family-parent therapy can help. Family conflict can be difficult to manage, but it presents an opportunity to develop communication and relationship skills. If you need a roadmap to navigate conflict in your family, we can help. Make an appointment request for family-parent therapy to navigate family conflict.