Arguments and conflict are part of the territory of being in a family. The trick is finding healthy ways to manage family squabbles and differences of opinion. If kids can learn to do this in the home they are likely to cope with conflict in a far better way outside the home.
Set an example
Whatever you do the kids are likely to copy – whether it is good or bad. So shouting, smacking and getting het up is not the way forward. The old adages lose your temper and you have lost the fight is a good motto to recount to yourself and teach your children.
Behave like you would like your kids to behave
Showing emotional strength, self-discipline and consistency are much more powerful ways to manage conflict and family arguments whether it is between siblings or with the kids, and will yield far better results.
Think before you speak
Remember you have two eyes, two ears and one mouth. Listen first and think before you speak. Don’t say anything in anger that you do not mean or is hurtful. Remember words are very powerful
Hard on the issue soft on the person
Be soft on the child and hard on the issue. Criticise the behaviour not the child. For example if your child has thrown his toys (or insert your own object here), screaming “you naughty boy” at the top of your voice is criticising him. You need to specifically tell him off for throwing his toys. If you want to use the word naughty you need to reframe it into this being “very naughty behaviour”.
Ignore bad behaviour – when appropriate
Ignore bad behaviour and reward good behaviour. Of course this has to be in the context of keeping a child that is playing up safe. If they are climbing onto the work surfaces next to a hot kettle, of course you need to take action. But most kids (and adults), really hate being ignored. And consistently not reacting, when it is appropriate, to unreasonable behaviour, and then making a big fuss when they do behave, is normally very effective if carried out consistently.
Kids are masters at seeking attention
It is important to remember that sometimes bad behaviour is to seek attention. Perhaps you do need to make time to sit and read a story, or play a game with your child. That does not mean you do not need to chastise them for their bad behaviour. It just means you need to think whether your child may need a little more mum or dad time. And remember some children need more attention than others.
Try a star chart
If children are intent on squabbling amongst themselves, why not use a star chart. Incentivise the children to sort out their differences by rewarding them with a gold star each morning, afternoon or day that they do not argue or fight. Even older kids who you may think are beyond star charts will respond to this.
Hold a family meeting
Hold family meetings regularly, maybe even daily in the school holidays. This can give you and the children the opportunity to talk about reoccurring conflicts and why they happen. It is also a good opportunity to find out how the children think they can resolve these arguments and differences of opinion.