1. Parenting

Eight Ideas To Stop Kid Fighting

Ignoring Kid Behavior An Option


Mother with daughters who are having an argument
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Kids fight. It's as simple as that and is a child behavior to be expected. Kids fight with each others for a multitude of reasons; parents and providers often have the difficult task of knowing when to let it run its course and when to intervene and take action. Kids can fight for the silliest reasons that seem utterly illogical--even humorous to adults--but it can become a friendship maker or breaker in the minds of young children. Siblings will also fight over the most mundane issues; where to sit, who is touching whom, whom daddy loves most, or which sucker is the better-tasting one (when they are exactly the same). Sound familiar? Of course, because kids fighting is a child behavior that is part of growing up. Having said that, there are things parents and providers can do to help minimize or keep kids from fighting at all.

    1. Ignore kid fights. Of course, this bit of advice comes with the caveat that there is no true harm (physical, emotional or mental) being inflicted. In that case, intervention is a must. But most kid fights are merely annoying squabbles and adult intervention delays the process of children working it out themselves. Fighting is often a way for kids to get attention--and for some kids, negative attention is better than none at all. If adults ignore the fighting and don't let it become a "center stage" in the home or location, it becomes less of a reason to do it. One parent has declared the extra bedroom in her home as "the fighting room." Whenever her kids or friends of her children fight, she simply tells them to take it to the "fight room" and not come out until it is worked out. Her only rule? She doesn't want to hear any noise or disruption. The result, she says, is that it is not much fun for anyone.

    2. Equality is a must when dealing with the child behavior of kid fighting. The quickest trap an adult can get into is trying to investigate who started the fight, and who said what and then what caused the escalating issue. Taking sides or doling out punishment differently sets the stage for labeling victims and bullies. In most cases, the punishment should be the same: no exceptions. Again, the goal is to take the challenge out of fighting and strip any initiative for "winning" or "losing" a fight.

    3. Teach kids ways to peacefully and cooperatively discuss solutions other than fighting. Even very young children can understand the basic issues of fairness and no fighting. Talk to youngsters about fighting and other ways that a problem can be resolved. Always set the ground rules of what can be done and what can't to resolve an issue (for example, yelling, crying, or hitting or definite problem-solving no-no's). Ask them to come up with ideas, and then let try them. You might be surprised at their solutions, and they may know what works best. One family's children always fought over movie night and which video to watch. The parents said they would not intervene; however, any movie that was not mutually agreed to by both kids was placed on the "no watch" list. If the kids rejected all the movie options (which was occurring as a power struggle), then the end result was no movie night at all. After this occurred once, the siblings were more inclined to reach a common decision.

    4. Provide positive strokes when kids get along. Praise, praise and then more praise works wonders in helping to build positive child behaviors. The key point is to ignore fighting and then to lavish attention when they're caught acting right. Children will quickly get that hint.

    5. Be a positive role model. You can't expect kids to not fight and bicker when they observe it regularly among adults. Parents must serve as role models as to how to cooperate and get along with others. Set the example of expected behavior at all times.

    See next page for more tips.
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