Ways to Settle a Fight
Kids fight. No matter how well-behaved or how adept at sharing they are, kids fight. Siblings fight even more, simply because they spend so much time with one another. And as much as it drives you up the wall as a parent, it is part of growing up and learning how to behave socially in the world. No, aggressive behavior isn't what they should learn from their squabbles. The fact that they don't always win and that other people are important are the values they develop through fighting. This is difficult because parents love to tell their children how special and important they are. So each child, regardless of how many you have feels entitled to win an argument against their siblings. Playing referee isn't fun, but it is important that your kids learn fair-mindedness towards one another, so it is something you must do.
Breaking My Heart
Most children love themselves best and then their parents next. Although there are exceptions, most children don't realise they love their siblings until later in life. They are bound to feel and express more compassion for a heartbroken mother than they are for their younger brother. So the next time your kids argue, try this method. You may find you don't even have to invoke the other ideas here.
When a fight reaches its breaking point, have a seat on the floor and gather all your children around you. It is important to get down on to their level and to wrap your arms around them if you can manage it. Tell them that you love them all, but when they fight like this, it is breaking your heart. Ask them if they want to make you cry, if they want to break your heart. They won't care about their siblings, but you hold all the power. They will do almost anything they can to make you feel good, they just normally don't know how to.
Wait For It to Come to You
You can hear them arguing in the other room or upstairs and it is driving you crazy. All the same you need to wait for them to bring it to you. If your children haven't brought the matter to you, they don't want your adjudication. As long as expensive vases or children are not being thrown against the wall, then see if they can solve it among themselves. It will be loud and it isn't an ideal situation, but you have a home with children, you didn't expect peace and quiet, did you? Unless you have a migraine or a real injury is imminent, then you shouldn't get involved. You want them to develop problem solving skills, don't you?
How Do You Want Me To Solve This?
When your kids are fighting, step in and ask them what you can do to fix it. By asking your kids what they see is a fair outcome to the fight, you will see how seriously they are taking a disagreement. The answer to "how should I solve this?" or "what do you think I can do about it?" make surprise you. You may find that it is no longer a matter of winning the battle, it's now just a matter of pride. By getting you to sort it out, they don't loose face. Or you may find that one child is taking it very seriously and feels that he has the most to lose. In either case, by gathering everyone involved together and asking them what you should do about it gets them focused on the solution, rather than the problem. Just be fair and your children will eventually catch on that they should probably just learn to compromise in the end.
Do You Really Want to Win This One?
This is more about a trade-off system, which somehow manages to teach children about compromise. Realistically, this only works with two children as it is a sort of back and forth method. Just ask each child if they want to win this fight - or would they prefer to win the next one. You can remind them that this fight is over who does the dishes, but the next one might be whether they see a movie or go to the arcade. It could be over the next video game you buy. Just explain that whoever wins this one will lose the next argument that comes to you. With any luck, everyone will concede that they don't want to win this one. In that case, the next argument remains the same. It does mean you may have to make some decisions on which channel they are going to watch now, but you will have probably stopped the fighting.
The Points System
If you are playing referee to multiple children, you can consider a points system. Set up a chart on the refrigerator and write everyone's names on it. When the next argument comes to you, say it is over who gets to watch their show, then give a point to each child that "gives in". Do this every time there is a spat over who gets what resources. When a fight comes to you, then you can give the child with the most points the option to win (and therefore subtract a point from his total) or he can choose to pass and gain a point. Oddly enough it will normally work. The child with more points will usually only spend them if they really feel seriously about it. You will find that not only will you be called in to referee on fewer occasions, but that these occasions will begin to occur further and further apart.
And if none of these tactics help when your children are fighting, you can always threaten to tie in their allowance to their behavior as well as the chores they do around the house. Money is a strong motivator for children, especially if they get used to having it. Above all, your patience is key; they will get the hang of it eventually and you may even find that you miss the noisy household and the desperate hugs of your little ones.