Inside: Tired of Sibling Arguing? This 5-1 ratio is proven to end squabbles and repair sibling relationships (according to science).
“You poopy head”
Does this sound like the siblings in your house right now?
These are the words you hear in the other room when your kids are playing, when you’re trying to get some work done, when you’re making dinner…
Your kids are just yelling at each other non-stop.
You can’t leave their side for a single second.
These are all words that have been said recently in our community members’ homes even though they don’t like to admit it.
So if that’s what it sounds like in your house, know that you are not alone.
If that is you, you are a hundred percent in the right place!
Maybe it feels like one kids’ life mission is to blame their younger sibling for everything.
Or maybe you have two kids who are constantly saying mean things to each other and no matter how many times you try to help them work it out, they just revert back to hurtful words.
Or maybe it feels like they’re constantly trying to get each other in trouble.
Today we are going to be talking all about helping our kids be able to talk to each other and treat each other with some sort of dignity, kindness and compassion — without pushing each other’s buttons.
Let’s face it. The truth is, around the world many of us are stuck inside right now…. (going on almost 50 days here!)
I’ve got three kiddos of my own, all different ages, and despite my years of working with families and teaching others how to create thriving families, there are days we still struggle and here’s the thing… I know that many of my friends are struggling as well.
I see the posts on facebook, in our facebook group and the children melting down in the background on zoom calls.
Life isn’t the same.
We’re stuck inside.
We’re not able to go to the parks.
We’re not able to escape our house to break up our monotony of the day to day.
Not to mention… Our kids are seeing each other more than ever before.
They’re having to divide their attention and their connection between not just mom and dad.
They’re not getting to go to school and see friends and get their connection there.
And so there’s all of these added pressures happening right now.
Siblings may have been getting along in the past, and then with everything else going on, it just feels like their relationship is crumbling and you can’t break up the fights fast enough.
Or maybe it was already really rough.
Maybe you have one child who was just a little harder than the other children.
And now they’re even more difficult and they require a little bit more care and attention.
Perhaps, they’re impulsive.
Maybe they are angry, or even more aggressive behaviors.
Getting the siblings to get along and treat each other kindly with shelter in place or doing school at home, has made everything feel that much bigger.
Add isolation on top of it all and it’s a recipe for disaster!
So today we’re talking about what to do if you’ve got kids who are really struggling to treat each other kindly.
How to Help Siblings Talk to Each Other Without Being Mean (Or Pushing Each Other’s Buttons)
Sibling rivalry is nothing new.
Just type into Google ‘sibling memes’ and you’re going to get an umpteen thousand of them. And they’re funny and they’re hilarious.
But what we’re dealing with right now, being stuck together at home, gives us an opportunity to evolve our family.
There is no better time…
There is no better time than right now to dig into helping our kids come out on the other side — Stronger than when they came in.
Instead of driving a wedge between them, creating a memory that they’re going to hold onto for years and years to come.
Let’s use this time to build that strong bond.
I’ve raised three super kids of my own, and a one who has dealt with a myriad of different struggles throughout his life, so we’ve had to maneuver the sibling relationships.
Even if your children are completely different…
I immediately think of my oldest and my youngest who are 6 and 14 and they are totally different humans.
My oldest used to have huge, massive meltdowns that would end in hospital visits. There was screaming, holes in the walls, throwing things.
There was a hitting, punching.
So they didn’t really connect that well.
They didn’t have a lot in common.
There were big scary behaviors, she felt unsafe.
I realized when they tried to be in the same room both of them would say really mean things..
“Don’t touch that.”,
“Get out of here!!”
Or they would hit each other, so I couldn’t leave them alone at all.
I knew I had to do something.
What I’m going to share today is exactly what worked. Now they actually help each other.
They build Legos together. When she gets stuck on something, he jumps in and helps her.
They have this amazing bond.
I’ll never forget the birthday where my 5 year daughter rearranged her birthday so her brother didn’t have to struggle.
“I want to go to Chuck E Cheese, but Elijah gets upset when there’s really loud noises, so I don’t want him to get upset”.
She actually changed her birthday!!!
She had her birthday at 8:00 AM, so we could go to Chuck E Cheese when there was no one else there.
Their lights were dim.
There were no other parties.
There was less noise.
Because she loved and connected with her brother so much, she was willing to shift her own party — FOR HIM!
That is the power of connection…
He’s gonna remember that forever — And so is she!
I was taught for so long that siblings just fight, they just bicker. That’s just part of being siblings.
But the truth is, it IS possible for our kids to get along, for them to treat each other with kindness, for them to understand each other.
And not just for me.
I immediately think of Emily.
Emily is one of my students. She came to us because of Luke, who was incredibly aggressive.
He had high anxiety, he was struggling at school, and he was struggling at home.
They were fighting constantly.
She was fighting with Luke.
Luke was fighting with her.
Luke was fighting with dad.
Dad was fighting with Luke.
And then there was Sydney…
Sydney’s 16 and quiet and reserved. But her 10 year old brother was constantly in her things. He was all over the place. She wasn’t able to enjoy the things she enjoyed and he was taking all of the parents’ attention.
So she would call him names.
She would get mad at him.
She would tell him to go away.
But because Emily and her family worked through these concepts, their bond is stronger than ever before.
In fact, one day Emily came home from work and found Sydney in Luke’s room. He was struggling with something that happened at school and Sidney actually jumped in and helped him!!
Because she understood him.
She had built those positive connections with him.
So how do you handle siblings that can annoy each other by breathing and purposely tick each other off – just for the fun of it?
What do you do when every single game turns into one kid walking away, or throwing game pieces across the room?
How do you help kids get along, keep the peace, and balance time between multiple kids with totally different needs?
And finally, what do you do if you’ve tried EVERYTHING???
(Even ignoring, punishing, rewarding, and bribing your kids!)
In order to get your kids to treat each other with kindness, the number one thing is for them to feel like they have some sort of connection.
To get along when they are playing together, you have to create moments.
The Magic 5-1 Ratio That is Proven to Increase Connection (And Decrease Name Calling)
In our Calm the Chaos Program, we talk a lot about 5:1 ratio. The concept is that for every one negative interaction, we need five positives.
Think of all the times that your siblings have been fighting with each other.
Calling each other names.
“You’re annoying”, “Get away!”, “Stop!”, “Don’t look at me”.
THINK ABOUT IT: How many negative interactions have they had in the last 30 minutes?
How to Create the Magic 5:1 Moments For Siblings
Step 1: Redefine the Behavior
The very first thing we have to do before anything else is do is what we call a swap. To change our lens and see that behavior as struggling and strategizing how to get what they need.
- Being mean vs. Struggling to communicate
- Being Bossy vs. standing up for what they want
- Being Manipulative vs. strategizing how to get what they need
Step 2: Celebrate Positive Interactions
We want to help craft, celebrate and help them notice these tiny moments of positive interactions. To pay attention and highlight the times that their brother does help them.
- Guide, craft, help them notice and celebrate small moments of connection
- Theses things pass you by if you’re not paying attention
- Help them notice and don’t assume they can do it themselves
Step 3: Get to KNOW each other
This is how you help your kids get to know each other, learn what each other like, what their sensory preferences are, what their triggers are, what their struggles are, what their strengths are. We really want to help our kids truly know and understand each other.
- Help them recognize likes, dislikes, strengths, and quirks.
- Have siblings discover each other’s unique qualities that make them who they are
- Guide them to understand their individual communication style and shared interests
Step 4: Teaching Alternatives to “Mean” Phrases
This is one of the biggest traps and pitfalls that I see parents fall into. We want to actually get ahead of the moment to create a plan ahead of time so they can solve problems together without using “mean words”.
- Biggest mistake is we wait until you’re in the moment.
- Create an out of the moment plan instead
- Help them swap phrases like Stop! Don’t! to When you do X it makes me feel…
Step 5: Be a Mirror for Your Kids
Instead of just telling your kids, you want to guide them and teach them. It means you’re going to have to sit in the same room with them, close by so that you can hear the language they’re using and you can reflect what you see.
- Reflect what you see, hear, and notice
- Use phrases like: I notice, That makes me think, I wonder if…
- Introduce gradually.
- I wonder what would happen if… to… I wonder how we can solve this problem?
I know that all these tips can be extremely hard to remember in the moment, which is why I’ve put together this free printable poster pack that has a list of phrases for your kids and much, much more!
Here’s what you’ll get:
- 10 simple ways to stop fights and arguments before they even start
- 10 ways to get your kids to play nicely (either together and or alone) without bickering, hurt feelings, or jealousy
- How to talk so siblings listen — The exact words and phrases your kids can use to stop your living room from turning into World War 3.
(If you spend half your day hearing things like “STOP!” or “DON’T TOUCH MY STUFF!” this will be a lifesaver.)
Now, you might be thinking,
“Okay, these are all great…
I can get my kids to celebrate positive moments,
I can help them understand each other,
I can help mirroring their language.
But here’s the thing, They still can’t work out problems on their own!”
I know. And that’s why in my next blog post, I’m going to be talking about exactly this.
- How to get your kids to solve problems on their own. Next time you hear a fight break out, don’t be surprised if it ends with hugs in compliments within minutes — without you saying or doing anything!
- How to make problem solving fun so your kids will want to resolve conflict (and they won’t need you to do it!)
- The exact words and phrases your kids can use to diffuse and argument before it erupts
For now, be sure to grab your FREE Sibling Get Along poster pack here so you can be notified of the next post on How to Help Siblings Problem Solve on Their Own.