8 Ideas to Stop Your Kids from Fighting

Ignoring is an option

Angry boys sitting on opposite ends of sofa
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Kids fight with each other 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 (especially siblings) 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. Having disagreements is a part of child development, but there are things parents and providers can do to help minimize or keep kids from fighting at all.

Don't Pay Attention Right Away

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.

Treat Everyone Equal

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.

Teach Kids Ways to Discuss Solutions and Problem Solve

Even very young children can understand the basic issues of fairness and no fighting. Talk to kids 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-nos). 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.

Praise and Provide Positive Reinforcement

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.

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.

Be Calm Under Pressure

Kids watch how adults behave and act when they are mad, disagree with something, or take issues. Calm under pressure and self control sets a positive example. If kids are old enough to understand, adults can talk with kids about how they feel angry or mad in a certain situation.

Pay Attention to How You React and Intervene

If adults yell, embarrass, shame, or dole out angry or strong words, the result actually could be that the annoying child behavior of kid fights occurs again.

Minimize Occasions for Fighting

Consider all the reasons kids fight, and do what you can to eliminate those situations. Know when youngsters are at their worst, such as when they're tired or hungry or just had a bad day, and minimize any potential fight zones. Children need to know they are loved equally and are special, regardless of how they act, but that you as an adult feel most happy when they are at their best. Sometimes a hug and/or a kiss is all a kid needs.

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