I know that feeling when it feels like you just can’t take another moment of the constant whining and bickering… It’s enough to make you jump in your car and drive round the block for some peace and quiet. (Seriously, I did that once just to get away from the incessant squabbling (Ok, maybe more than once). I left them at home with hubby. Not really the long-term solution I was looking for though!)
You’re not alone, sibling bickering is one of the biggest issues most regularly mentioned by my clients as a real button pusher.
Imagine what life would be like if you didn’t have to play referee to your children’s bickering?
Language of Listening® framework I teach shows you a simple yet powerful coaching model. So, rather than controlling your child’s behaviour, you coach them to bring out their greatest self and support them to find their own solutions within your boundaries.
But first I want to share with you why it’s so easy to get stuck in a negative cycle of bickering and sibling fighting and why you can unknowingly create more of the very behaviour you don’t want to see.
Listening to bickering kids is enough to push you into a very reactionary response. It’s easy to judge these situations and just focus on who’s right or wrong.
Maybe it leads you to dishing out threats, punishments or rewards in attempts stop the bickering in the moment. However, all this in turn actually pushes your children into more complaining and whining.
In most houses with more than one child, the more impulsive/reactive child gets told off more. This pushes the child into more defensive or reactive behaviour, fuelling sibling rivalry. On and on this cycle goes.
So, what can you do? First step: Instead of jumping in to solve your children’s fighting, Pause and SAY WHAT YOU SEE®to both boys.
It can sound like this:
SAY WHAT YOU SEE® : “Sounds like you two need help. There’s one PlayStation and two boys!”
SAY WHAT YOU SEE® : “Something’s not working the way you both want. You want your brother to hear you out AND you’re fed up as your brother’s always in your space.”
SAY WHAT YOU SEE® :“You don’t like the way your brother’s talking at you. AND you feel like your brother doesn’t listen to your ideas.”
Using these kind of responses, you instantly connect with your child, see their best intention and centre your child back with who they really are.
The fastest way to stop bickering? Understand what they do want.
The best place to start is to look for the motivation behind their bickering. As you figure out what they’re trying to achieve, it will lead you directly to their true intentions.
Don’t look for blame look for solutions. (a family motto of ours that reminds us to move forward.)
Learning to switch complaints into a “want” or a “wish” helps you and your child to not look for blame but to find solutions to what they actually want.
So, even when you don’t approve of their behaviour you can focus on their true intentions, and that is something you can agree with as their behaviour starts to makes sense.
Look at these swaps for examples: practice looking behind their words and actions to their wants and wishes.
| “You never let me choose what to do. You’re always bossing me around.” Becomes “You wish you could make the decision.
“You always taking my things and never ask if you can come into my room. You just barge in!” Becomes “You want him to respect your things and want your own space.”
“You’re so loud and annoying. You never leave me alone.” Becomes “You wish you could have some peace and quiet.”
When your children are in touch with what they do want, they are able to move into the problem-solving mode quickly.
The magic happens when you turn the problem-solving over to them. Their solution for working out their disagreements will surprise you. Often, it’s something you will never have thought of.
My kids would forever bicker who’s turn it was to sit in the front seat of the car. One fine day I turned around and told them to find a solution between themselves. They came up with some crazy rota that I would never have thought of, but it works for them. And no more bickering on car journeys. Bliss.
Remember: Don’t look for blame look for solutions.
Hi! I’m Camilla, a Language of Listening® parent coach, and I support parents just like you to transform family life with the magic of Language of Listening® Click here to get my Empowered Parenting Free mini-course – just three simple steps to radically change the way you parent.