I don’t know about your household during these crazy times with the Coronavirus and all, but ours is a bit chaotic already. Three teen siblings ages 13, 15, and 16 under the same roof at the same time with nowhere to go right now is making them stir crazy and the bickering and squabbling are at an all-time high. Can I just say YIKES! It makes me want to go volunteer on a Coronavirus ward at our local hospital. Just kidding but really what is there to do with these teens and their fighting?
Really and truly teenage squabbling is inevitable but that doesn’t mean we as parents are powerless to do something about it. Parents exert a significant influence on the relationship between two or more youths and the amount of fighting between them. This is good news for those of you who want more peace, fewer arguments and generally happier times.
There Are Significant Reasons That Cause Conflict Between Teenage Siblings.
With nothing constructive to do, spending too much time in the same place will often cause spontaneous spatting. Even in the best of times, there is a temptation amongst siblings to provoke one another. This temptation can be hard to resist when they’re bored. And who doesn’t get edgy spending too much time with someone in close quarters over long periods of time?
If a teen perceives that one sibling gets more attention from parents for whatever reason, they might act up to get noticed. When competing with each other for that parental attention all types of arguments will ensue.
Jealousy is another cause of sibling rivalry. When one grows to resent or envy another sibling’s talents, possessions, friends, or even perceived status with parents they are inclined to lash out in angry or spiteful bursts.
Research has shown that the most common cause of fighting between teenage siblings is due to issues of personal space and privacy. There are constant arguments about borrowing without permission, not respecting physical privacy, listening in or reading private communication, copying what the other does, and being followed around by another.
A Sense Of Fairness
Fights frequently erupt over who determines what television shows to watch, time spent in the bathroom, doing a fair share of household chores, being granted small privileges more often than others, and not waiting or taking turns in general.
Things Parents Should Not Do
Parents Shouldn’t Intervene.
Don’t intervene unless you really have to! If things start to get physically or emotionally violent or things are nearing the point of no return then you have no choice you must intervene. However, the best way to handle things is to separate them and let them resume their discussion of differences at a later time if necessary.
Learning how to resolve issues amongst siblings assists in the development of important relational skills.
Learning how to resolve conflict, negotiate, compromise, and express an opinion are all skills teens learn from family squabbles.
If parents always intervene, not only do teens miss out on developing their relationship skills, they also learn that fighting is a way of getting attention.
Parents Should Never Ask “Who Started It?”
First of all, has any teen ever said, “It was me. I started it?” and if they did it would just leave the parent in a spot.
Conflicts can be caused by perfectly innocent acts or they can arise from planned acts of aggression; instigation doesn’t equal guilt.
You will find yourself in a round-robin act of accusation.
Parents Should Never Take Sides.
In inter sibling arguments, it is imperative that parents stay neutral. Even if you tend to lean more toward one sibling than the other stay unbiased.
The conflict will just escalate if you side more with one sibling.
Parents Should Never Compare Siblings.
Levels of animosity and jealousy will only increase if you make comments comparing one sibling to the other.
Many parents do it without meaning to; “Why can’t you be more like your sister?” or “Your brother never does that” can easily slip out before you even realize what you’ve said.
What Parents Can Do About Fighting Teen Siblings
Set The Ground Rules.
Each house should have clear rules about what’s not okay during an argument. How you phrase it is entirely up to you but it should be along the lines of :
- No physical violence of any sort –ever!
- Threats of harm or damage are not allowed
- No name-calling or personal insults
Put Them In Separate Corners.
When you do need to intervene you should talk to them each individually in private. This gives them the chance to talk to you without interruption from the other sibling.
Don’t try to solve their differences when you do talk to them, instead focus on encouraging them to solve their own differences. If the teens are younger then you might want to suggest what they can say or do.
Be Sure They Have Space.
Try to have places in the home that each teen can consider their own space. Ideally, this is their own bedroom, but if that is not possible even allowing them to have a part of the house for a period free from interruption or distraction. Just keeping them out of each other’s hair will go a long way to keeping the peace.
Practice What You Preach.
The model you set for your teens will teach them how to negotiate and resolve conflict.
Spend Time With Your Kids Together.
Research has found that when parents spend time with their teenage kids together the relationship between siblings has less conflict. Teens benefit from having time with each other in the company of their parents.
This is not an immediate answer to the conflict but it makes for a more harmonious climate in the family.
Giving each of your teens equal amounts of attention and affection will reduce rivalry and the need to seek your attention.
If you have some interesting ways in which your family handles teenage sibling conflict please share it with the rest of us in the comments below.
Take care until next time,