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Family War: How To Declare ‘Ceasefire’ Between Siblings and Other Family Members

Having an argument with anyone can be quite upsetting, especially if this happens to you and a loved one. When it’s your family that you’re fighting with, it’s normal to feel confused about how to handle the situation.  You may even be ashamed to admit that your family fights and feel sad because the situation doesn’t seem to be improving.

Ideally, what you most probably want is to find an effective way to decrease the fighting and bring harmony and peace back into your household. Learn some basic guidelines on how to stop fighting with your family.

There should be no room for bullying at home

Sibling rivalry is normal in big families. However, it becomes a real problem when one child bullies or dominates the other creating a complicated situation that needs to be carefully analyzed. On the surface, you have two kids who are “at war”—who bicker constantly and don’t get along. There can be many reasons for this, but at the core of this rivalry is a common theme that runs through it all: the sense that one sibling is the victim of the other. And that child often believes that he gets less love from his parents than his dominant brother or sister does.

In any kind of intervention with a child who is bullying his siblings, you have to challenge their thinking. Say to him, quite frankly, “Why is it that when you get angry you think it’s okay to hit? What, the rules don’t apply to you once you get angry?”

And make it very clear: “When you’re angry, the rules still apply to you, and so do the consequences.” The bullying sibling is going to test everybody because that’s what ‘bullies’ do; they try to exert their power on everyone. But as a parent, you need to challenge those thinking errors directly.

Take jealousy out of the picture

Make your kids feel the fairness, no favoritism, no biases

Sibling rivalry is a difficult and sometimes painful issue for many families, but here’s the bottom line: rivalry and jealousy are a normal part of life. Your responsibility is to help your kids learn to manage the feelings that come along with it. If they don’t, these issues will get carried over into adult life.

The feelings of injustice and unfairness that accompany sibling’s jealousy become even more crippling to contend in the future. By following a few simple strategies, you can work with your kids to manage sibling rivalry.

Avoid the blame game, always keep the language positive instead

Avoid using a language and tone that put blame on any of your family members or that feels negative. Negativity is a vicious cycle. Keep your voice tone calm and modulated, not raised and upset. Calmly and methodically explain your points, but with empathy for the other person.

Always try to put yourself in the family member’s shoes. That means avoiding judgment words or name-calling on  the family member. It means avoiding accusatory words that are said in an angry tone. Blaming other people will make them defensive and prone to counter-attacking, which will make the argument worse.

Avoid the need to “win” the argument. Instead, try to accept that there are two, or more, ways to see the point. Develop a plan for solving the problem together. Then, focus on organizing activities where you can have fun together, avoiding anything that could serve as a “trigger,” to reopen the argument. Explore new sides of your family members and new ways of relating to them.

Focus on a resolution

Family fights need to be resolved by unleashing the main problem

While it’s tempting to try to lay blame and to make your voice heard, resolving the issue is what’s most important. Think about what you’ll enjoy from a healthy relationship with your sibling when moving forward rather than trying to “win” an argument with them. Understand that you each need to bring something on the table and work together. Apologize for what you’ve done as often as possible.

Seek counselling.

It’s not for everybody, but some family fights are so deeply felt and toxic that they can only be solved by a professional. It’s worth a try if nothing else has worked, and there is nothing to be ashamed about by seeking help.


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