6 Ways to Stop Sibling Fighting
It's not until middle school or early adolescence that most kids can be more logical about fairness, says Myers. That includes, say, accepting the idea that her little brother might need more attention from you sometimes, and while that's not thrilling, it is fair. Not that it's easy getting to that place.
"Sometimes I think it's about 'Who do you love more?'" says Andrea Kane, the Atlanta mom of Carina, 7, and Josephine, 9. Her daughters protest perceived inequities in how many sleepovers the other gets, who got which treat and how big it was, and dozens of other issues. Which is why Kane tries hard to show them there are, in fact, no inequalities on that front. "If I bring up something I love about Carina that Josie doesn't have," she says, "I'll make sure to point out that I love Josie for who Josie is, too." Then again, sometimes it's just about a pink sweatshirt with a fairy on it, or anything that doesn't have a duplicate. Vivian Scheidt of Seattle, a mom of two girls, 6 and 8, recalls a particularly baffling fight over a silver cup that had contained Hanukkah dreidels. "As soon as the cup became interesting to one child, the other child wanted it. They created the inequality."
So what's a parent with a caffeine-withdrawal headache to do to keep the peace? Take a deep breath, and remember that all this arguing is part of learning how to be a good person. Several studies have shown that kids' early sense of fairness may have deep roots in human survival -- if everyone treats everyone fairly, the group will continue to thrive. But whether a child develops a strong sense of fairness and empathy has partly to do with how parents handle things, says Myers. Below, a few strategies that can help your kids move in the right direction.