Our kids fight all of the time about absolutely everything and it is really annoying.
It's so ridiculous that the other day one of them was shouting at the other two for looking out of her car window. Since when did people have ownership over windows simply by sitting near one?
We kindly reminded her that we in fact owned the car and that she did not have grounds to shout at anyone.
And then we took her iPad away.
She didn't shout again for the rest of the trip.
We aren't naive enough to think what we do will ever actually stop our three kids from fighting, because they'll always find something else to bicker over.
We can make some attempts to reduce the arguments.
Here are five things we did to stop the fighting (well, have fewer of them):
1. Remove choices
Sick of our kids fighting over who was going to have the pink cup, we threw away all of our coloured cups, plates and cutlery and replaced them with white. Easy peasy.
Okay, they started fighting over the plate that had a tiny chip on it, so we got rid of that one too. We found that if we removed choice from the equation it helped a lot.
2. Roster things
Now of all of our kids are old enough to sit in the car without car seats they fight over who will sit where in the car. At first we just left them to fight it out, but then it started getting on our nerves.
Now, there's a roster. We use the roster system for jobs around the house and who gets to go to the shops and a whole range of ridiculous things not worth fighting over.
3. Give ownership
There are certain no-go areas for fighting and one of them are their bedrooms; every child has ownership over their own space. They set the rules, and if their sister doesn't agree, they have to leave. They also have their own regular spot they sit on the couch and at the dining table.
The girls know there's no point fighting over those things. And if they have a friend over to play it's up to them if they want to let their sisters' join in.
When you live in a house with three sisters it's important you feel that you have your own space and identity. Having said that – it's also important the girls learn that sharing, including others, negotiation and compromise are all great attributes.
4. Set ground rules
Being in a family means respecting everyone's needs, beliefs, choices, moods and emotions.
Fighting is about authority, jealousy and control. It's healthy, but needs to be fair. Talking about issues, rather than lashing out, is encouraged. And this is all made easier with some simple ground rules, not only about how we fight (eg: no physical violence or verbal abuse), but also where, when and what we fight about.
These rules mainly centre on respecting each other and those around us. Don't sweat the small stuff. Save your battles for things that matter.
5. Take away devices
And then when all else fails, we've found the most effective way to help stop the fighting is to take away their devices or television or catch-ups with friends. It's very simple.
At the end of the day, our children live in the house we work hard to keep running for them. And if they insist on fighting all the time, then they lose their privileges.
We talk to them about their behaviour, we give them chances to make amends and encourage them to learn from the situation. It's about giving them the skills to make better choices next time and hopefully put an end to trivial fights.