My kids, ages 6 and 8, are constantly fighting! Whenever they are together, it is not long until one is coming to me crying and tattling. I try to solve it quickly, talking to them each about how they make the other one feel. I even make them apologize, but it doesn’t seem to help. I end up scheduling playdates so that one of the kids is out of the house, and I can’t wait until school starts! Can you help me?”
Sure! Right now, when your kids fight, who gets upset? Although one may come to you crying, chances are that YOU are much more stressed out about solving this issue than they are. After all, they continue to fight every day. It adds some fun to the day! It is time to turn this around. Let’s change the situation so that it causes them discomfort when they fight, not you.
Tell them something like this.
“Kids, there has been a lot of fighting around here, but I know that you are old enough to start solving this problem on your own. And trust me, it will be a lot better for you if you can work it out without me helping. So from now on, here is how things will go. This is called the three strike method.
The first time one of you comes to complain or I hear arguing, I will NOT ask what is going on or whose fault it is. Both of you will each go to your room for fifteen minutes. No discussion, no talking, do not pass go. At the end of the fifteen minutes, you may come out and I will trust that you are ready to get along.
If you fight again in the same day, you will both go to your room for an hour. Again, we will not discuss this. It doesn't matter who started it. One hour.
And if it should happen again a third time in one day, you will go to your room and stay there until dinner. After dinner and any chores you have to do, you will return to you room and go straight to bed. Both of you. The end. The next day, we start fresh. “
Your kids will most likely nod their heads and assume that you do not mean any of this! The next time they start fighting, immediately follow through with the time out. Do not discuss it. Just do it. This provides them with a consequence and gives you fifteen minutes of peace! It is a win-win!
The next time you hear them fighting, ask, “Can you solve it yourselves or do you want me to?” Chances are good they may look at each other and say, “No, Mom, we can handle this.” If not, feel free to impose the consequence again. This time, you may get an hour of peace! Enjoy it! Have a cup of coffee and some chocolate and enjoy your quiet house!
Some kids are a little more stubborn than others, but if you stick to your guns, your kids will figure out quickly that it is less painful for them to solve the problem than to have you intervene.
What a great life lesson to learn! You have now helped them learn how to get along with someone who drives you crazy, a skill we all need throughout life.