Getting Along When the Days are Long: Covid-19 Coping Series
Getting Along When the Days are Long
Sibling rivalry can be a challenge on a good day, but add in long days at home, with no outside visitors, no play dates and an unknown end date to the current situation, and you've got the makings of a frustrating day. Add in parents trying to work from home while all of the above is going on and the stress goes up exponentially.
No Quick Fix
If you are looking for a quick fix to this age-old problem, let me save you a bit of time and tell you the truth: It doesn't exist. The good news is, things can get better.
For starters, be sure to create a routine with your kids that provides a framework and a foundation for the day. Then, invite your children to create a plan for ways they can structure their time, as well as generate ideas of things they want to do, learn or explore when boredom sets in. (Our printables can help!)
A Few Thoughts on Managing Sibling Squabbles
1. Remove your own emotions/don't personalize. When your kids are squabbling, you don't need to own the problem. Let your kids start figuring things out together. Provide guidance and input, as necessary, but there is no need to rescue. Above all, remain as calm as you possibly can.
Ask questions like:
"What's happening here?"
"What do you think might be a good solution to this problem?"
"What do you think this could look like when it's all worked out?"
"How will you feel when this is no longer a problem?"
"When you are no longer busy arguing about this, what will you be doing with your time, instead?"
2. Teach solid social skills. There's no way around this. We need to teach life skills so kids can have a good life. We teach our children how to walk across a street safely, how to use eating utensils, how to say please and thank you. We need to teach social skills intentionally, as well. This is too important to just leave to chance. One of the big tasks of parenting is to teach these skills consistently. You don't have to go it alone. You can get assistance in the form of parent coaching or counseling if needed. Keep scrolling down to see our ideas on conflict resolution, as well.
Here are some resources on our blog:
The Feelings Finder
My Child Won't Talk to Me: The Family Feelings Journal
7 Skillful Ways to Help Kids Manage BIG Feelings
Supporting Your Angry Child
3. Shift your perception. When you see sibling rivalry as the naturally occurring phenomenon it is, it becomes less wearing for you as a parent. You'll start to look at it as an opportunity to teach more skills, rather than as a dreadful, horrible situation. I realize it takes time for us to slow down, maintain our own composure and calmly help kids sort things out. That is time well invested, if you ask me.
I know firsthand that sibling rivalry is not enjoyable, but when we keep it in perspective, it has less of a hold on us. That allows us to manage it (and teach our kids to do the same) much better!
4. Be In It for the Long Haul. Remember that new skills take time to become a habit. Your kids won't learn how to tie their shoes after one demonstration and they won't become proficient at managing conflict in short order, either. The sooner you start teaching how to resolve conflict, the sooner they'll be doing it on their own!
Conflict Resolution and More
Want to reduce outbursts due to arguments and sibling rivalry at your house? Teach conflict resolution. It's one of the best ways I know to help keep the peace in any home. It won't put a halt to problems, but it will certainly help everyone better solve the ones they have!
Learning how to resolve conflict is a lifelong skill that we can begin teaching our kids right now. Get some tried and true ways to teach conflict resolution HERE. The truth about conflict and anger is that they are merely a part of life. They only have as much power over us as we let them. That's the short story. The rest of the story can be found in the link above.
You can also learn more about staying out of damage control with your kids HERE. Preventing problems before they crop up or setting things up so that problems don't have a chance to start is a pretty darned good idea.
Here's to more family harmony!
COVID19 and Coping: The Series
Here is where we'll share links to the latest posts, as they become available. You may wish to bookmark this page, as the list will grow over time, in response to our reader's needs:
Kids Questions: Answering Kids Questions in Uncertain Times
Sanity Savers for Parents: How to Keep Your Sanity During Challenging Times
Fostering Hope: Keeping Hope Alive During Challenging Times
Connection: Keeping in Touch with Grandparents When You Can't Be Together
Don't Miss a Thing
Wendy Young, LMSW, BCD, is the founder of Kidlutions and co-author of BLOOM: 50 Things to Say, Think and Do with Anxious, Angry and Over-the-Top Kids, co-creator of BLOOM Brainsmarts, and creator of The Joyful Parent. She is the author of numerous workbooks and resources to help from the preschool through the teen years.