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How to Handle Siblings Fighting

Why Didn't Anybody Tell Me: 2+ Kids Makes You Go From Mom to Referee

For a minute there, my kids got along swimmingly. I'd heard plenty of horror stories from moms who said they spent the majority of their days breaking up fights between their little ones, but I was sure I had escaped such a sad fate.

My children played together nicely when one suggested it to the other, but mostly their three-year age difference and distinctive personalities, interests, and genders meant they kept to their own corners, save the occasional conflict over my daughter's American Girl Bittie Baby, which my son has always coveted. Once she got the bigger American Girl doll for her birthday this past Spring, she passed along the baby to her brother without prompting. He said "thank you" and gave her a hug. Life was peaceful.

Then my son hit 2-and-a-half (I've decided 2-and-a-half to 3-and-a-half is the real terrible twos; it's definitely held true for both of my children), and he realized that he had been neglecting his true life purpose as a little brother: annoying his sister. Between Hulk smashing every part of her body, stealing any toy she's playing with or food she's eating then taunting her with it, and occasionally attempting to lock her in the basement, I think he's definitely making up for lost time.

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His torture tactics mean I'm now firmly in the camp so many of my friends warned me about: I have gone from mom to referee. Here's a look at the typical fighting match that is my current day.

Round One

It's 7:15 in the morning, but the fun is well under way in this household. What starts as a great game of "let's run laps around every room on the first floor while mom yells at us to eat breakfast and get ready for school" heads south when big sister decides to actually listen to her mother.

Not enjoying parental compliance, little brother begins dragging his sister's counter stool around the kitchen, which causes her to scream and start swinging wildly at him with a pink plastic spoon, still dripping with organic milk and Lucky Charms (a truly balanced breakfast). Mom intervenes and lets little brother eat his chicken sausage while watching Octonauts.

Round Two

School's out, and big sister wants an afternoon snack and a bit of downtime after finishing her homework — just as her brother wakes up from his nap. She's coloring her favorite combination of hearts with faces, flowers with spiky petals, and her own name when her brother decides he wants in on the action. Of course, he only wants the colors she's using at that exact moment, and when she refuses to pass them over, he takes another crayon and colors all over her latest creation. World War Three erupts, and before I can pull them apart, they're both crying hysterically.

Round Three

We're in every mom's favorite part of the day, the pre and post-dinner period where kids decide to act like wild animals and lose their sh*t for no reason whatsoever (also known as the reason they invented wine). Both kids are really getting into their roles as deranged maniacs, rolling around on the floor together like puppies, speaking in toddler tongues, and occasionally yelling out demands for mom ("I want a sucker," "Why don't we have ice cream?," "Where did I leave my pants!?").

Inevitably, the play devolves into a full wrestling match with little brother climbing on top of his sister and pinning her down, and yep, there we have it, big sister has pushed him off, causing him to crack his head directly on a sharp wall corner. It's a TKO, folks, but the real loser in this ongoing battle is most definitely mom, the referee.

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