Family Matters: Surviving Summer With Siblings

As summer approaches many of you may be wondering how to reduce the likelihood of your children arguing.  Not an easy task as there will probably be increased time together.
As a parent, with limited vacation time, it can be both unpleasant and frustrating to hear and see your children fight. The reasons for the spatting are numerous – competing for your attention, material possessions, obtaining better grades, or excelling in sports. Below are some strategies to help keep the peace between your kids over the summer months.
Set the Groundwork. Discuss with your children what behaviors are acceptable and unacceptable. Behaviors like name-calling, yelling, swearing, hitting, etc. are all unacceptable. Get their input to come up with consequences when they do engage in these behaviors. The key is to do this before the fighting starts.
Don’t Get Involved. When possible and reasonable, try not to get involved.  Let your kiddos work out their differences without you.  You want your children to learn how to problem solve and find solutions.  If things get out of control, then step in. If you need to get involved, make sure that everyone is calm when trying to discuss the issue.
Avoid Investigating. Avoid taking the time to figure out who started the argument because it does not matter. It takes more than one person to be in an altercation and everyone involved is responsible for fueling it. Focus on finding a solution.
Individual Interests. Set time aside to enjoy all of your children’s different interests. Offer one-on-one time for you and your children to do their favorite things. Schedule enough time for each kiddo and the family.
Praise. Make sure to acknowledge and praise time cooperatively spent together. Point out positive and respectful behaviors.
Time Apart. There is nothing wrong with allowing time for your children to do their own things and be apart. Arranging different camps, play dates as well as having your children partake in different activities/classes that are of interest to them is perfectly healthy.
Schedule. If your children are constantly fighting over the same situations (i.e., what to watch on television, what game to play, or who goes first) create a schedule to help monitor who goes when and for how long.
To help reduce and/or limit sibling arguing and make the summer more pleasurable, keep the above strategies in mind and enjoy the parenting journey.