Recently a distraught parent called about her three kids who are between 10 and 15 years old. Arguing and fighting inevitably erupts every time she gets in the car with them and fills the car with very loud, very distracting shouting. Have you noticed that kids have the uncanny ability to pick the worst times to start their bickering? Few things can be as annoying or draining for parents.
What statements can we make in these situations to help keep the problem of arguing on the kids’ shoulders where that problem belongs? Some parents try this:
“It sounds like you guys are having a problem. I expect you to solve it—somewhere else. It will be interesting to see how you solve it.”
If kids can’t seem to solve the problem for themselves, then parents can solve the problem for them, perhaps by charging something to put back the energy that was drained while listening to the fighting. Some parents charge $1 per minute to listen to high-volume arguments in the car (or at other times when the parent can’t avoid a ruckus). Other parents charge chores by offering some of their own chores for the children to do so that the parents can restore the drained energy.
Instead of reacting with anger and frustration in the moment, many parents use Love and Logic techniques successfully to empower their kids to solve problems and resolve conflicts on their own. If Love and Logic techniques are used consistently, kids will gradually learn to take responsibility for the situation more readily. When arguing starts, and they are reminded that they must solve the problem away from the parents, they will naturally work together—elsewhere. If the kids don’t resolve things wisely, it costs them something.
Sibling rivalry is very common and is a normal part of growing up in a family.
Charles Fay, Ph.D.