Siblings can be close companions, but even brothers and sisters who normally get along will at least occasionally fight. "I know they love each other to bits," says Circle of Moms member Amanda H. of her three-year-old and 17-month-old. Still, they "fight like cat and dogs: they kick, hit, scratch, pinch, bite, push, shout, jump on each other, throw things at each other, [and] steal each others' toys and snacks."
Sound like your house? When you feel a sibling fight coming, try these tips from Circle of Moms members, to help deter disagreements and promote harmony among your kids.
1. Set Ground Rules
Toddlers are at an age where they are just learning socialization skills, so they may need mom's help understanding house rules and learning how to share. Circle of Moms member Heather takes time every day to play together with both of her boys, who are two years apart. This shows them that "we can all play together without fighting over things and toys," she says.
Angelica tries to avoid arguments by giving each of her four children ownership over their own things. Seats at the table are labeled with the kids' names, and plates, bowls and cups are color-coded for each one. This way, "They cannot play with the others' toys without express permission from the owner," she says. But community toys are first come, first served, "and the children know they eventually have to share those things."
2. Build in One-on-One Time with Each
Children may need to learn to play together, but they also need individual time, too. After all, moms say sometimes siblings argue when they want more parental attention. "What worked for me was staggering bedtime," Crystal C. shares. "My younger son goes to bed almost an hour earlier than my older child, giving him time with me." Her older son has learned that during "mommy and me" time, the television and phone are turned off. When you give your children a little more separation and create little things just for your older child -- surprises on his or her pillow, or a special snack, you might soon find that the sibling rivalry ends. "Now he likes to help me get baby ready for bed and play with him because he knows his special time is coming," she says of her older son.
Michelle A. agrees that spending individual time with each child helps to minimize attention-getting arguments. "Last night I simply took my daughter to CVS while my son stayed home with my husband, and she loved going on a special trip with just me," she says, noting her three-year-old and nearly two-year-old son are very close and the best of friends, yet they also love to fight with each other.
Amy F. She suggests arranging a "date night" with the parent of the child's choice, so that each sibling gets one-on-one time. When she effectively divides her attention between the children, she notices the fights "get fewer and far[ther] between."
3. Choose Your Battles
If and when battles do break out, moms say don't immediately separate the children or issue toddler time outs. Instead, let the situation play out for a bit. You "don't want to sabotage anybody's confidence or reward the victim all the time," explains Sunayna G., who has 14-mont-old twin girls.
"Siblings teach each other how to relate to the world and other people most of the time," Jennifer agrees. So when her boys, who are 27 months apart, fight, she doesnít rush in to resolve the problem unless the argument escalates. "Often if they don't get a reaction from me or my husband, they figure out a way to get along — or one moves somewhere else," she says. Meanwhile, Jennifer praises her boys for taking turns, helping each other and sharing.
4. Offer Positive Reinforcement
Positive reinforcement, whether in the form of praise or an actual reward, can pay off. Melanie S. began encouraging sharing between her two boys, who are 22 months apart, by encouraging the one who was sharing with a piece of candy. Because the other child wanted candy too, he started sharing.
Melanie offered candy rewards almost every time they shared in the beginning, but she also simultaneously provided verbal praise and high-fives. Then she phased-out the candy, using only the high fives and verbal praise consistently. Occasionally, the good sharer also received extras, such as picking a movie to watch or a book to read. "Now I have two very good sharers who enjoy verbal praise and high fives only for sharing; No more candy is necessary!"
Other positive reinforcements could involve a day out to somewhere special so the siblings forget about fighting. This will also give you an opportunity to praise the children for getting along well, says Bonnie-Rose L.
Remember, when it comes to sibling rivalry, at times moms may have to acquiesce. "Children are going to fight. Depending on the ages of your children they might be at the age where they are either becoming their own people and liking different things, or they could be at the age where they don't know how to share," Jennifer says. However, she adds, "Don't worry too much about it. It happens and it will pass."
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.