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Managing Sibling Fights (Without Being the Ref)

Your kids start fighting and you get pulled into it to diffuse the situation. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you didn’t have to be the ref? 

​​​​Let’s face it. Siblings fight. Plain and simple!

Whether it’s over if a square has four corners or four sides,

Who pushed who into fake lava, or

Who gets to use the yellow cup (Seriously. Why is there so much shade being thrown to other colored cups in our house?).

Fights are inevitable! What also feels inevitable is how you get pulled into every single one. So much so that your kids start referring to you as “Ref” instead of mom! 

READ: Is it Normal for Siblings to Fight all the Time?

Want to know how to get out of that referee rut? Here’s how!

1. Cool Down

Each kid will need their space and time to cool down and calm down. This is different for everyone. In my house, my son needs time alone to listen to music. My daughter prefers to just go to her room.

There’s no right or wrong way here and it can take some trial and error to find the right “cool down” techniques for each child. 

READ: 4 Steps to NOT Lose Your Cool as a Mom

2. Check In

After your kids have had a chance to cool down, it’s a good idea to check in with both your kids. You aren’t there to offer advice or speak for the other child, but simply to offer a hug and to be there to listen. It’s amazing how much better we feel when someone truly listens to us!

3. Let’s Talk

Using “I statements” like “I feel _______ when you __________ and I would like us to do _______________”.  Encourage your kids to talk to one another, state how they felt about the situation, and what they wish would have happened, or what they feel they need to have happen to move forward. It may be just a simple, sincere apology.

READ: Why I let my kids fight it out (and why you should too)

4. Offer Amends

This is up to the kids on how this happens. Your only role here is to facilitate it, not get involved. In some cases it might be one child asking the other for an apology. In some cases it will be asking if things can be handled or done differently in the future. You don’t have to agree with their plan or think it’s even the best solution out there, you just have to help facilitate them talking until they get to a solution that works for everyone. 

I know what you are thinking, and JoAnn, nothing is that easy. But it can be! I have taught my kids these problem solving steps and communication skills for years, and they get better and better at them everyday! 

Are they never going to fight again? No! Of course not! As a matter of fact, they will probably fight again this week, but I don’t have to get involved, take sides or punish anyone. They have the skills to work it out!  

READ: Get Siblings to Bond: 3 Steps to Get Kids to Stop Fighting (without getting in the middle)

Resources we shared:

The Sibling Adventure Missions

Download the Transcript HERE

The best mom is a happy mom.  To better take care of you, download our No Guilt Mom mindset here .  These reminders will help you second guess less, and feel more confidence every day in your parenting.

Brie Tucker

COO/ Podcast Producer at No Guilt Mom
Brie Tucker has over 20 years of experience coaching parents with a background in early childhood and special needs. She holds a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Central Missouri and is certified in Positive Discipline as well as a Happiest Baby Educator.

She’s a divorced mom to two teenagers.

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