I have a 6-year-old, and 2.5 year old. They are fighting A LOT. What’s the best way to discipline them? I try to let them work it out as much as I can, but it’s constant. Older child ripping toys from the younger one, then younger child tries to do the same. I use timeout with both kids and if the older child hurts her brother, then I do remove her, and she goes to bed after dinner. I need some ideas to help them play and get along for at least a few minutes a day. Thank you!!
Hello, and thank you for your question. I understand that you want your kids to play nicely together. That's a lofty goal. What if you change your expectation to one of primarily peaceful coexistence?
Six year old girls don't generally play with 2 year old boys. Make sure that they each have their own space and don't expect them to share. Two year olds are notoriously lousy at sharing. Children should, however, be kind to family members and others. Tell your daughter that you spoke with her doctor who told you that smart 6 year old girls who are unkind to their little brothers need more sleep. The doctor said that she will have to go to bed an hour earlier for 14 days in a row. Those 14 days will begin again if she is unkind and/or hurtful towards him. Explain exactly what you mean and what is unacceptable. Make a simple chart with 14 boxes to cross off. Her usual bedtime will be restored when she completes 14 CONSECUTIVE days of kindness towards her brother. You can give one verbal warning if you hear things escalating, or not. The most important thing is to be consistent and follow through. It will likely take longer than 14 days, and that's to be expected as she's used to behaving badly with him.
It's also important to remove yourself from the role of referee. If they are interacting and squabbling begins, they're both guilty. Separate them with as little discussion as possible, and go about your business. You can call it the Do Not Disturb (the family peace) rule which is simple: If an adult has to intervene, they've disturbed that adult and they're both in trouble.
This approach puts the burden of her misbehavior on her shoulders, which is where it belongs as she's the only one who can change it. Make it her problem to solve.
Wishing you peaceful days ahead!
Certified Leadership Parenting Coach
Facebook: Love & Leadership Parent Coaching
Subscribe To Get More From ParentGuru
Subscribers enjoy access to all questions and answers.