It takes two to tango. When it comes to navigating sibling fighting, there may be one child that is 90% responsible for the fight and the chaos, but that child always has a choice. I talk about this idea in my post “You Are Responsible for How Your Respond,” but I want to expand upon it a bit more today. The truth is that a child (or a human being for that matter) that is being angered or provoked can always choose how to respond. They can escalate the situation or neutralize it depending on the response, and we want to teach our kids how to respond in a way that is both appropriate and aims at creating peace.
Common questions for navigating sibling fighting might include, “What happened?” or “What did he/she do?” Common responses are, “Stop fighting.” I want to propose switching around the questions we ask to help kids take ownership over their own contribution to the combative behavior.
Navigating Sibling Fighting
The question I have been asking my kids is, “What can you own in this situation?” Another way I might ask it is, “What did you do that YOU need to apologize for?” There is always something they can own if there has been an escalation in the conflict.
Teaching kids to reflect and respond to their own behavior is a tool that will benefit them throughout life. To learn to take ownership over ones behavior and work on improving self control are two qualities that are to be admired. This will help your children in all future relationships: spouses, classmates, friends and co-workers. I really encourage you to read the post I mentioned earlier called “You Are Responsible for How Your Respond” because it really addresses the idea I’m talking about here and how it relates to all areas of life.
When talking with my kids they often want to go to, “She….” I immediately stop and tell that child that I’m going to ask the other to take ownership of what he or she did. “Right now we are talking about you. What did you do that you need to own here?”
What I am NOT Talking About When it Comes to Navigating Sibling Fighting
Some people might look at this concept and fear that I am promoting the idea of a child not knowing how to stand up for themselves or constantly taking the blame when they are not the bigger issue. This is not what I am proposing.
An individual can stand up for themselves and give their opinions without escalating the problem through poor choices in both word and action. It actually takes a mature communicator to be able to walk away from the situation and be able to address it in a positive way when the parties have both cooled down enough to be productive. A mature person can comment on how they feel after another has wronged them. Maturity comes in being able to know what to let go of, realizing it’s the other person’s issue.
To my second point, I am not asking my kids to take the blame for something they didn’t do. I’m merely asking them to reflect on how they could have handled the situation differently for a more positive outcome.
We are not responsible for changing another person, but we do need to learn to take responsibility for our own actions, and we need to teach our kids to do the same. We also need to let kids learn how to work it out on their own.
Imagine a World…
Imagine a world where this actually did happen. People took responsibility for themselves. What if everyone took the time for self reflection and were constantly tweaking themselves do respond better and have more pleasant interactions with others? Imagine if conflicts and disagreements (which will always be with us) were discussed in productive ways, seeking to understand the other and sometimes agreeing to disagree. I think we can all say the world would be a better place. We are raising the next generation, and I believe it is our responsibility to teach our kids to have self reflection, self control and take ownership over their behaviors rather than continuing a pattern of blaming others and feeling the world owes them something. Will you join me?
More Parenting Tips
Here’s a link to my parenting tab, but I also want to add links to some other posts that might help encourage and equip.