My children are always fighting: how can I get them to stop?

February 1, 2024

Fights between siblings are normal and inevitable. We’re pretty sure that, if you’re here reading this post, you might have thought “My children are always fighting”!

Gender, age, and temperament play an important but not fundamental role in this.

During a fight, children learn about themselves and each other, but also about caring for each other in a different way.

The parent, in most cases, finds these fights unmanageable and unacceptable and feels compelled to intervene to calm them down and protect one rather than the other.

Often, however, what parents do not know is that the fight is amplified as the parents enter the field.

Parental concerns.

During the second pregnancy there are many concerns given by the arrival of the baby brother:

  • What if my children are always fighting?
  • Will the first accept the arrival of the second?
  • Will they be jealous?
  • Will I be able to handle two children?
  • Will ever get along?
  • Whether they will have two opposing characters?

Hold on!

These worries only convey negative feelings to our children and will prepare fertile ground for confrontation and difficulties in living together.

The eldest child, with the arrival of his little brother, is faced with an upheaval in his daily routine.

Attentions that until now were only for him are now divided over two people.

The time is unfortunately always the same, and if before the eldest child had full attention from the parents, now at the same time the parents divide the attention (often with an inevitable imbalance toward the newcomer)

The screaming, crying and needs of the little one completely overshadow the big one.

Inevitably the feeling of jealousy is triggered.

Sibling jealousy.

Jealousy is a fundamental emotion in life.

What we can do, as parents, is to welcome it and not hinder or ignore this feeling.

We help our children understand the feeling of jealousy they are experiencing, not minimizing it, but giving them the tools to recognize the new situation and be able to deal with it in the best way possible.

Jealousy felt over the arrival of a baby brother does not mean, as some parents often think, non-acceptance of the newcomer.

The feeling of jealousy can be experienced simultaneously with the feeling of happiness.

The jealous child is simply afraid of losing the attention and love of his parents and so will start a series of behaviors that might seem strange, like stop eating for a while.

Seen from this perspective, all we can do is to communicate, in the most appropriate way, to our child our presence and reassure him of our love.

What to do if my children are always fighting?

Depending on the age, we can deal with this in various ways.

If the older sibling is very young, it is useless to start talking about the unborn child at the beginning of the pregnancy, he cannot define the passage of time as we adults do, and 9 months of waiting is really too long.

If the baby is older we can rely on fairy tale readings focused on the topic.

At birth we give a gift to the older sibling saying that it was the baby who brought it as a gift to greet him.

Sibling coexistence.

Teaching children to live together is among the most important learning opportunities one can have.

A parent should worry less about sibling quarrels and be more concerned with teaching how to be responsible for the sibling and the family’s well-being.

Asking the older child to cooperate to be well all together means giving him duties and responsibilities even with respect to his little brother such as letting him:

  • give him the bottle
  • push the stroller (if old enough to get to it) during outdoor outings
  • cooperate in the baby’s growth: helping him crawl, giving him a pacifier, etc.

In a time of quarrel, we try to be ever vigilant to prevent them from getting hurt but at the same time give them a chance to confront each other, clash, and then makeup.

Our task is to supervise and intervene only when strictly necessary: our intervention should aim to bring the two parties into positive dialogue and not resolve the issue ourselves.

If we solve problems by avoiding confrontation, our children will not learn strategies for dealing with and getting out of an argument.

Parents, when faced with daily arguments between their children, experience feelings such as:

  • guilt
  • inability
  • sadness
  • inadequacy

These feelings are then felt more by parents who work far away or are often away from home.
If parents get carried away by the feelings listed above and participate in the conflict between their children, they only reinforce this vicious cycle and allow their children to manipulate them emotionally.

What we need to learn to accept and embrace is the great opportunity our children can take from these confrontations, the great chance they have to learn how to resolve issues right in front of us and with the people they love most.

The key thing is that there are rules of coexistence and respect in the home, and these rules are established by and with family members, and they are rules that cannot be broken.

What to respond when my children are always fighting?

“I don’t know who is right or who is wrong, I know you can solve the problem between yourselves.”

At this point let them confront each other.

If you have a very difficult situation to deal with, it may be that there are hidden things that you have not yet been able to discover within the family educational method and you can fix them with our courses.

SOURCES

Ingram KM, Espelage DL, Davis JP, Merrin GJ. Family Violence, Sibling, and Peer Aggression During Adolescence: Associations With Behavioral Health Outcomes. Front Psychiatry. 2020 Feb 11;11:26. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2020.00026. PMID: 32116843; PMCID: PMC7027165.

About the Author

Severino Cirillo

Health, Wellness and Education Expert. With a degree in Community Health, he is the CEO of Informed Parent and is responsible for validating the blog's scientific information and coordinating the editorial team of experts, consisting of gynecologists, midwives, psychotherapists, and others in pregnancy, perinatal, and parenting wellness and health.