If you have more than one child, then you don’t need us to tell you that sometimes tension between siblings can run high. There are a variety of reasons they bicker, argue, fight, and shout. Sometimes, it’s nothing more than a difference in personality. But one factor that can cause or exacerbate those tensions is a household that has them constantly being on top of one another and in each other’s face. Familiarity breeds contempt, as they say, and we all need personal space from time to time. So, how do you help your feuding family find it?
Give them their own space
As we mentioned, that sense of personal space is vital.
If you feel like you simply can’t get away from someone, then a minor disagreement or annoyance can easily escalate into something more major. If your kids don’t have individual rooms, then it’s worth looking into how room dividers can at least offer a sense of ownership over their space. If they have their own bed and their own desk each, it means they have somewhere to retreat to when they need to cool off or when they have homework they need to get on with without distraction.
Keep their stuff separate
Sharing is all well and good, but if siblings aren’t on the best of terms, currently, and they “share” something without permission, it can cause an argument. A growing child has a sense of ownership over their things and feeling like it’s infringed upon can make them extra defensive. Giving them separate storage spaces and helping them organize different clothes and belongings with things like clothing labels can help them more easily manage their possessions.
This can stop tensions from escalating.
Of course, “borrowing” without permission might still happen from time to time. When it does, ask your child why they took something. If the simple answer is that they feel they are lacking, then answer could be in helping make their possessions more equitable to their sibling’s.
Help them self-regulate
If they are stealing or misbehaving in an effort simply to wind up a sibling or to get attention, then it’s time to get a little deeper and help them learn how to get along. For instance, you can teach kids how to extract themselves from a situation that is about to escalate. They know when things are getting more conflicting, they just don’t know they know it.
For instance, you can ask one child what happens when their sibling gets angry and are about to start arguing or fighting. If they can recognise that their voice gets louder and their expression changes, then they can recognise that they can help cool off the situation by leaving for the moment. By helping kids self-regulate their behaviour then you, as a parent, don’t become another chip they use in their conflict.
Communication is key, of course. If a conflict gets a little more serious, then it might be time to step in and see if there’s a root cause you can identify and stamp out. In the meantime, help everyone manage their own personal space so that when they do interact, it’s not with all that tension and baggage weighing on them.