Boys fight. It is as simple and as complicated as that. Go back to the beginning of time and read about Cain and Abel. The very first pair of brothers we read about involves a rivalry that ends with one brother dead and the other a murderer. Or how about Jacob and Esau? Or Joseph’s brothers who sold him into slavery? There has to be a solution for raising siblings who are close, and a way to keep harmony in the home. Ready to find out how to stop brothers from fighting?
How to Stop Brothers From Fighting
Begin With Yourself
Do what? You may be thinking, This is supposed to be a post on how to straighten my boys out, not me. But the phrase “Monkey see, monkey do” had to have been coined about boys. Those little imps are constantly watching us parents, both our successes and our failures. They see our strengths, hopefully, but boys in particular pick up on our aggressive habits.
Comic strips are filled with hilarious characterizations of parents who yell at other drivers, or throw things when they are angry, but each of those illustrations come from personal experience. The more aggressive we are toward those around us, the better the odds are that our sons will also exhibit that sort of behavior – at home, in the classroom, on the court, everywhere. You can try telling them, “Do as I say, not as I do,” but your children will remember your reactions better than any quotes.
An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure. – Benjamin Franklin
Ben Franklin’s wisdom is just as applicable today as it was a few centuries ago. Why wait until the battle is underway? Take preventative measures to lessen the chances of a fight breaking out with these helpful tips.
1. Give your children individual attention. Acting up can often be linked back to a cry for attention. Do you find yourself giving more attention to Child A because their personality meshes better with yours? Or perhaps it’s Child B getting all the attention because he’s younger and needs more help. Plan for some personal time on a Mom and Son Date, whether you stay at home or take them out.
2. Don’t compare your children to each other. Whether it’s grade point averages or athletic abilities, each child wants to be recognized for their own achievements. Comparing them to their sibling will only lead to resentment, making it easier to start a fight down the road.
3. Are they bored, tired, or hungry? Recognize the signs of boredom and nip fights in the bud by steering their energy toward something productive. Are the boys stuck in a car together after school, when their minds are tired and their stomachs are hungry? Prepare ahead by bringing an after-school snack. Making a no-talking rule for the first “x-amount of minutes” lets them unwind without trying to talk over each other (and let’s you focus on getting out of the parking lot!). If you have room in the car, spread out the seating arrangement so they are not stuck sitting side by side, if that’s a problem.
4. Teach them to negotiate and compromise. I can remember being about 12, and a friend of mine talked her younger sister into trading a penny for a dime. She told her sister the penny must be better since it was larger than the dime. This is the type of negotiation you want them to avoid. By playing games with them, your children will learn to take turns. If Snazzy Lad 1 gets to pick the game, Snazzy Lad 2 gets to go first.
5. Find ways to help them self-manage their anger. When the boys were younger, singing Daniel Tiger’s “when you feel so mad that you want to roar” song was enough to help them calm down – and often resulted in giggles. As your boys grow older, they may require a more physical outlet. Instead of punching or throwing things, sit down and make a list with them (while they are calm) on the correct ways to compose themselves. Shooting hoops, running, playing an instrument, writing in a journal, or even doing a chore are all ideas you can use. Some cleaning can be therapeutic, and you get the added benefit of cleanliness, too!
The bell rang, the fight has begun. Now what?
You missed the cues and the fight has already started. What do you do now? Wade in and start bashing heads? That may feel like the correct response, but here are some other options to try first. You may have to try a few before you find what works because one size does not fit all when it comes to kids.
1. Make them have a staring contest. This approach works especially well when the fighting has not escalated to physical altercation. Often, making the boys sit and stare at each other ends with them erupting into giggles, their squabbles forgotten.
2. Have them hug it out, or hold hands until they can apologize. Giving a physical consequence to a child who has hit or punched his sibling keeps it relevant. If nothing else, the threat of having to dole out hugs may be enough of a deterrent to keep them from getting into a fist fight. (I know some people may also suggest a “Hug Shirt” where both kids wear one extra-large shirt. The one time I tried that, my Snazzy Lads ended up almost choking each other trying to get out of the shirt.)
3. Assign something they must finish together. Whether you give them a chore to keep their hands busy or a puzzle to engage their minds, this is another technique for refocusing their attention. Making them work together will help them realize that two heads are better than one.
4. Separate them. Sometimes a cool-down period is needed after a fight or argument. I will often send my Snazzy Lads to separate rooms with orders not to play with or talk to each other. Five minutes later, they are sneaking into the other room together – trying to play quiet so mom won’t catch them.
5. If they are fighting outside – throw water on them. Have you ever seen two dogs rolling around the yard, trying to prove their authority? Boys are like that, and sometimes the posturing ends up becoming an all-out dogfight. Cooling them down with a bucket of water will disorient them long enough for you to call a halt to the fight. It may even have them laughing once they get a good look at each other.
Siblings will fight, there’s no doubt. How to stop brothers from fighting? With lots of trial, error, and understanding. Use a dash of prevention to avoid the worst arguments, and pray for patience. They will go a long way toward a more harmonious home. If you have any tips you use, we’d love to hear them! Leave us a comment below and pass on that wisdom!
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