Although we do not like fights between siblings, these, to a certain extent, are part of their development: who has not fought, during their childhood or adolescence, with their siblings?
And in the case of children, when they are adolescents and are immersed in this changing and particular stage, fights can be something habitual. As parents, it is normal that these fights worry us (and more if they are frequent), and it is also normal that we want our children to have a good sibling relationship.
However, first of all, we must try to remain calm and accompany them from serenity. But to what extent should we get involved? Is it good to let them resolve conflicts themselves?
When to intervene? We answer these questions through useful guidelines to manage this type of fight between them and achieve an improvement in their relationship.
Fights between teenage brothers: why do they happen?
Sibling fights are common, and to a certain extent, it is normal for our children to have them. The causes can be varied; misunderstandings, age difference (although both are teenagers, one can be 12 years old and the other 17, for example)…
Or they can be caused by jealousy or comparisons, difficulties in giving in or reaching agreements, rigidity of one of them, interests that are also diverse, the very stage in which they find themselves (with so many changes), a need for reaffirmation, etc.
Although it is good that we can prevent fights between siblings, we should not be obsessed with it either, since in reality, they are part of the expected dynamic at these ages.
However, it is also not advisable to act “as if nothing were happening”, since the quality of family relationships in adolescence is a key element for the psychological well-being of every adolescent. And as fathers and mothers, we can accompany them to better understand each other, be more flexible and improve the bond between them.
How to manage fights between teenagers
1. It is important to prevent, but without becoming obsessed
As we said, although it is true that preventing this type of fight between siblings will foster a more pleasant climate at home, the truth is that we cannot become obsessed with it either, since the fights are also part of their development and the construction of their identity.
Of course, whenever we can, we will try to prevent them (promoting a good climate at home, a good relationship between the two, observing their behavior and how they are emotionally…), but if we finally do not succeed, we must have clear guidelines to avoid that the fights go to more, or to help our children to manage them in the most appropriate way.
2. Try to be neutral
If you position yourself in favor of one of your children, the other can feel very bad. It is better to try to maintain a neutral attitude, as much as possible.
Logically, there will be times when it will be necessary to position yourself , but in those cases, try to empathize with your other child as well. Both need to be heard and understood, and there is never one “good” and one “bad”, just a point of disagreement or very different ways of being.
3. All stories have two versions
Remember that all stories (and arguments or fights) have two sides, so listen to each of your children and validate how they feel. Each one will have their reasons for having acted in X way; listen to them and try not to judge them.
4. Average but try to let them solve it
It is beneficial for adolescents to be able to resolve their own conflicts among themselves, since this fosters their autonomy and emotional management.
For this reason, yes, you can assume the role of mediator on certain occasions (encouraging active listening between them, the fact that sometimes you have to give in to reach an agreement by being a little more flexible, etc.), but try to ensure that they are finally they who reach agreements and resolve their conflicts.
5. Reflect with them on the causes of their fights
It can also help them, especially to prevent future fights, to reflect on what is causing them to fight so often.
Perhaps in these causes they also find a way to solve what happens to them and bring positions closer together. Encourage them to think about them, but let them draw their own conclusions.
6. Promotes the bond between both
To encourage bonding and affection between them, it can help to encourage them to perform cooperative tasks with each other, such as cooking together, asking them to go shopping together, taking care of the pet… or cooperative games ( for example, certain board games). The idea is that they strengthen their bond so that the fights that appear are less frequent (or less intense).
7. Encourage dialogue
Sometimes emotions lead us to act impulsively, with shouts, insults or actions that we later regret. Therefore, try to encourage dialogue between your children, for example by creating a space for dialogue at lunch or dinner, when you are all together.
It does not need to be a dialogue only to resolve their disagreements, we must approach it as a natural way of dealing with conflicts , so that they can also reproduce this strategy later instead of resorting to shouting when they get angry.
8. Find ways to resolve conflicts together
It is just as important to accompany our adolescent children during these fights as after them, in a state of “harmony”.
And it is that, in that moment of calm, it is when we can try to find with them strategies that they have learned and that have helped them , at some point, to settle their conflicts and resolve their differences.
We can approach it as a “game” or as a family exercise, and write down the answers on a piece of paper. For example, we can write:
- Pause, breathe, and decide to have the conversation another time.
- Listen to the other.
- Put yourself in his place and try to understand why he acts in the X way.
- Explain what each expects from the other (manage expectations).
- Say something positive about the other.
- Don’t act impulsively.
- Don’t get carried away by emotion.
The idea is that they can apply these strategies at other times, when the conflict resurfaces.
What to do if the fight gets out of hand?
If fights get out of hand, it’s important to take action. During the fight, and in the event that they are shouting, insulting or even hitting each other, it is important to act calmly and not shout ourselves (since we do not want to teach them that the way to resolve the conflict is by shouting, obviously).
We will separate them, and when they are calmer (we can give them strategies to calm down), we will talk to them to find out the reason for the fight . We will encourage them to talk to each other and we will be available in this accompaniment in case they need support or advice, but trying to be impartial.
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