Struggling with tantrums, bedtime boundaries, or simply wondering how to raise happy, confident kids? Sarah Rosensweet offers peaceful parenting advice to help families find balance.
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Q: My 3-year-old twins are constantly fighting, either over toys, parent’s time, what show to watch, or just generally being in each other’s space. Help!
-Mom of twin 3-year-old boys
A: Wow, 3-year-old twins! You must be busy.
When siblings fight, it’s almost always to get our attention and to try to answer the question, “Do my parents love me or my sibling more?”
Ensure you follow our peaceful parenting big ideas for helping siblings get along.
Have daily one-on-one time with each child. Even 10 minutes of Special Time with each child each day can make a big difference in making them feel like they “have” you and that they don’t need to compete with their sibling for your love and attention.
Have clear sharing rules. We suggest that some toys belong only to a particular child (presents or toys bought with their own money), that they never have to share, and that some belong to everyone. If it’s a toy that belongs to everyone, a child can play with it until they are done.
If you are consistent with these guidelines, you can end many fights by referring to the family sharing rules. “Remember, in our family, we always ask before playing with someone else’s toy, and they can say no if they want to” or “In our family, we play with toys until we’re done. Can you ask your sibling to tell you when they are finished? Then it will be your turn.”
Intervene in fights neutrally. Never be the judge and jury, even when you think you’re right. No matter what you say, you will be “choosing” one child over the other and adding to the sibling rivalry.
Instead, help the kids communicate with each other. You are the mediator, not the negotiator. “Wow, you are both so upset. We can work this out. Tell me what’s going on.”
Listen to each child and reflect. Then ask, “Who has an idea to solve this problem?” Be patient and keep listening until they’ve thought of something they can live with. You are teaching them conflict negotiation skills that they will use for the rest of their lives!
Sarah Rosensweet is a certified peaceful parenting coach, speaker, and educator. She lives in Toronto with her husband and her 15 and 18-year-old kids. Her 22-year-old son has launched.
Peaceful parenting is a non-punitive, connection-based approach that uses firm limits with lots of empathy. Sarah works one-on-one virtually with parents all over the world to help them go from frustrated and overwhelmed to “we’ve got this!”