Establishing family rules to reduce sibling conflicts

Establishing family rules to reduce sibling conflicts


A home with laughter and joy is every parent's dream. Yet, when the inevitable sibling conflict arises, it can leave us scratching our heads, wondering how to bring peace back into our homes. Let’s face it - sibling conflict is stressful for everyone. But fear not, we've listed below five family rules that make conflicts between siblings less and help your little ones handle disagreements better.

Often, sibling rivalry starts even before the second child joins the family, and continues as the kids grow and compete for everything from toys to attention. As kids reach different stages of development, their changing needs can affect how they relate to one another. If you wish to get some toy recommendations for different stages, I’ve listed them here.

As your kids grow older, disagreements between them get pretty intense—pushing, shouting, or calling each other names. It can be frustrating and upsetting to watch — and hear — your kids argue.

While you know the behavior you expect, articulating those expectations can be tricky. That's where the magic of family rules comes into play.

Why family rules matter
Family rules are like a guidebook for your kids. It helps kids understand what behaviors are okay and not okay. These rules help them understand the boundaries of acceptable behavior and set the stage for responsible decision-making as they venture into the wider world.

It is normal for children to break rules and test limits. Consistently following through with consequences when rules are broken help your child have a clear understanding about the importance of rules.

Why is this a win-win
In the short term when kids are able to take responsibility for their own behaviour, it keeps you out of the job of refereeing every fight your kids have with each other.

In the long term, kids that are self-accountable aren’t so easily influenced by their peers, are less likely to blame others for their behaviour, and have more sound decision making skills.

Why I love family rules:

🙌 Kids have buy in because they help to make them, we make our family rules based on what feels good for each of us
🙌 Helps kids to stand up and advocate for themselves against people of all sizes - the rules apply to the grown ups the same as they do for the grown downs
🙌 Helps foster more positive relationships because kids trust that their needs can be met

With a list of family rules, everyone in the family becomes clear about expected behavior. Rules also help your kids feel safe and secure. When your rules are clear, you'll be less likely to get into power struggles. Your child's attempts to say, "But, I didn't know!" won't be effective when you remind them of the list of family rules.

 5 Family Rules to Reduce Sibling Conflict

  1. Fair means getting what you need. Not the same. - One might need some new shoes, the other might need some more time, one might get different food in their lunchbox. Part of my job as a parent is to find out what you each need and then try and offer it.
  2. If someone says STOP. You stop. - It’s only if it’s fun for everyone. If someone says stop, you must stop.
  3. Sometimes the rules aren’t the same, but they make sense. - Children don’t necessarily care about your reasons but it’s helpful, from early on, to help them realise that their siblings may have an advantage (or disadvantage) of development.
  4. It’s OK not to get along. - Being a sibling is hard, man. It’s OK if your children don’t get along much of the time, or even if they don’t like each other. What’s important is that they can learn (over time) respectful communication in the face of their dislikes.
  5. If someone has something, it’s theirs until they’re finished. - Kids like to have really long turns with toys. Forced sharing doesn’t teach children to share, it teaches them that others are a threat and that things need to be protected at all costs or they could get taken.

There you have it!

Family rules are not limited to this list. You can do a lot to prevent sibling conflicts. However, if you're like most parents who still struggle to list household rules off the top of your head, I’ve got a workshop for ya and I think it will change the game.
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