Sometimes we shake our heads with exasperation at our kids fighting. Again.
However, it is useful to think about why they fight and what the value of fighting is.
Imagine if our kids didn’t ever fight.
There could be two reasons
1. No one had any opinions.
- Do we want passive kids who don’t care about anything?
- Do we want one person learning to be the aggressor?
So…. unfortunately, fighting/arguing/disagreeing is part of the process of kids moving from being ‘egocentric’ (self-centred) to becoming aware that they are not the centre of the world.
It is through conflict that kids are learning
- their values and others’ values
- their opinions and others opinions
- their boundaries and others’ boundaries.
So…. as parents, we either see these fights as an important part of the developmental process and help mentor them in good ways of facing conflict, or we shut conflict down, perpetrating passivity and aggression, even if it appears to be hidden with resentment. Which will come out later, never you mind!
Conflict between siblings (and even as adults) stems from different ways of seeing the world. These views are influenced by things like
- the social-emotional development of each participant
- birth order
- personality types
- habits and patterns
- perceptions of injustice
- perceptions of not being listened to, valued or noticed
If we, as parents, can try to move past our own frustrations (which sometimes mean we act just like the toddler or the bully in front of us!), and try to ask “Why is each participant behaving like this?” before we respond, we can begin to mentor them to manage their feelings and learn better ways of negotiating conflicts.
In the next few blogs, I will try to look at the above reasons for conflict between siblings (and adults) and give some tips I have found useful.
But for now:
- Take a deep breath and try to see mentoring kids to have conflict in healthy ways as some of the most significant parenting you will ever do.
- Take another deep breath and try to ask how each participant in the conflict is viewing the world, what their needs are, and then ask why. This will give you keys to help you and them resolve some of the issues.
Teaching kids to work through conflict well is like nappy training. It takes time, consistency and perseverance. Just like nappy training, once better habits and patterns are developed, things get a whole lot easier!
This lockdown could be your opportunity.