Asked & Answered: Sibling Conflict

All responses taken from our Facebook groups: Foster Parenting Toolbox and Kinship Parenting Group.

Occasional (or even frequent) conflict is a given when you have siblings together in a home. Sibling conflict is a normal part of childhood development, but many parents struggle to know how to resolve arguments. We asked current foster, kinship and adoptive parents how to address sibling conflict. Here’s what they had to say:

“Teach them how to talk, listen and compromise when big stuff comes up.”

“My favorite parenting book, Liberated Parents, Liberated Children, has lots of great insight for raising siblings.”

“Give them tools to have constructive talks. Sometimes helping them talk through it. Giving each time to calm down on their own if needed. Growing up it was always, ‘y’all just work it out,’ but I have found that my kiddos need good examples of ‘working it out.’”

“Can sometimes depend on the background. My daughter and her brother constantly trigger each other. They lived through all the abuse together and there was abuse between them as well. The trauma relationship was so bad they could not live in the same household. Separation unfortunately was needed so both had any chance to heal. In our case, it will take years of therapy. It’s good to know the background and why the conflict is happening. It will take time. Learning how to communicate and learning what they each need.”

“Depends on age but our 5- and 6-year-olds have been bickering a lot so we have the Berenstain Bears book about the siblings getting into a fight and you can also watch it on YouTube. We make them listen to it or watch it and they now have stopped when we mention that as the next steps!”

“We are no means pros, but we try to help teach the steps in resolving conflict, to help plant seeds for the future. Talking directly with the person you have conflict with, what is the conflict, how does it make you feel, do you hear/understand their perspective? Walking through both sides, how can we resolve this together? It’s a lot of work, but I’ve seen the fruit in my kids of doing this on their own, without us helping as they’ve aged.

“We’ve also had them write “love letters” to their siblings. What are three things you LOVE about your sister and then they read them to each other. We’ve only done it a handful of times, but they usually love hearing those affirmations from their siblings.”

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