Sometimes I feel like all my kids do is fight. And I think that’s because all my kids do is fight. I know they love each other and it’s not malicious, but if I don’t hear someone screaming “No” or “that’s mine” or “he’s gonna hit me” in over 3 minutes, I have to run and check that the roof didn’t cave in.
Even if I try to keep the peace, these fights are largely unavoidable since they’re often absolutely ridiculous. For example, recent fights have included: which of 4 identical foam fingers from a sporting event belonged to which child, who gets to hold a picture first or longest when looking at said picture, whose side of the car the moon is on, whether a child on one side of the car can look out another child’s window and, perhaps the mother of all fights, who gets to press the elevator button.
And I’m sure my strategy for settling these constant arguments is flawed. I start by being calm, but within seconds I default to bellowing “HEY” and giving an evil look. Then I yell “Stop” loud enough for kids fighting in Canada to stop. Sometimes I pretend to cry, there are occasional threats of cancelled activities and trashed I-pads, and I might have asked them once or twice if I should find them a new mommy. I was kidding. Sort of.
So once again I turn to the experts to see their ideas on how to stop constant sibling conflict. But their advice hasn’t worked for me either.
For example, experts advise that parents should try not to get involved. This keeps children from expecting you to rescue them from arguments and lets them learn to resolve conflict on their own. But I find that when I don’t get involved, someone either gets hit by a Nerf bat or teased to the point of being 2 inches from my face with a whole lot of mucus flying at me. And sometimes curtains get tugged out of the wall. So this doesn’t really work for me.
Experts also advise setting clear ground rules for acceptable behavior, like no name-calling and hands to yourself. But clearly these experts haven’t met my kids. Try as I may, clear ground rules are wholly forgotten when one kid wants to watch Sports-Center and the other wants Sponge Bob.
They further advise keeping tired and hungry children away from each other. Great, all I have to do is move my 4 kids to Buckingham Palace so we have the space to do that. Jolly idea.
Experts advise setting a good example by never disrespecting anyone in front of them, especially your spouse. Ahhh, in a perfect world!
They advise teaching your kids that anger is a reaction to hurt or fear. But my poor husband is a really big Jets fan and Knicks fan and I just can’t explain his emotional responses to their games within those categories.
Finally, experts advise holding weekly family meetings to repeat the rules about fighting and review past successes in reducing conflicts. But when my kids aren’t actively engaged in a fight, the last thing I want to do is talk about them fighting, which would definitely cause another fight.
So what’s a frustrated parent to do to end the non-stop belligerence? Well, if all of the above advice fails for you too, experts ultimately advise that you never scream at your children in anger. So now my only question is, when’s a good time for me to scream at them?