Brotherly Love? A Three-Rule Solution to Sibling Bickering

If the recent school vacation had your children at each other’s throats, then “Mom, Jason’s Breathing on Me!” The Solution to Sibling Bickering (Ballantine Books, 2003), by child psychologist Anthony Wolf, Ph.D., should be the first book on your reading list this year.

With gentle humor, Wolf uses this book to outline a three-rule solution to sibling bickering:

• Rule 1: Don’t take sides.
When a parent intervenes on a side – “John don’t hit your sister,” instead of “Stop that, you two,” Wolf says, the argument turns into a competition for a parent’s attention and allegiance. Instead, make sure that you address both children.

• Rule 2: Act fast (or not at all).
If you want something to stop, tell your children when you first get annoyed, instead of waiting until you explode at them.

• Rule 3: Don’t listen.
When bickering children come looking for you, offer love and support, but don’t allow them to use you as a judge to whom they can deliver their opening arguments. Give them a hug, but don’t do more than recognize how difficult a situation must be for them when they launch into their case, and, if necessary, remind them that they can and must find a way to solve it themselves.

Wolf’s book is packed with hundreds of scenarios and sibling dialogue so real you’ll swear he bugged your house.

More about siblings:

Reading to Two: How – and What – to Read to Siblings