Dear Tamara:

I have two children (ages 9 and 11) and they fuss and fight over everything. It is driving me crazy! I am tired of having to referee and tired of trying to get to the bottom of who’s right and who’s wrong. What can I do to stop my kids from fighting?

Referee

Dear Referee:

As a mother of four I know how it feels to have to referee between your children. And yes, it can be exhausting, especially when they argue over everything from who’s sitting in the front seat to who has the most juice in their cup. I often joke that two of my daughters remind me of Vanessa and Rudy on The Cosby Show and that one day I am going to move them into the basement and not let them out until they act like the loving sisters that I want them to be! While that may have worked for the Huxtibles during that the 30-minute episode, I doubt if that would solve the problem completely.

I believe its normal for siblings to argue with one another. To me growing up with siblings is the training ground for learning how to share and get along with others. And let’s face it, children have their own distinct personalities and dispositions and sometimes they are going to clash. However, I draw the line at physical contact. I do not allow my children to fight one another (at least in my presence). And when they do, I do not referee. Trying to get to the bottom of who started it is useless. If my children fight, they both get the punishment. As for the arguing, I think the key is knowing when to let them work it out themselves and when you need to step in.

As parents we cannot constantly referee our children and step into the middle of every disagreement and squabble. Not only will we exhaust ourselves running up and down the stairs every five minutes, but we run the risk of creating a greater sibling rivalry by not allowing our children a chance to work out their own differences. We also do not want to create an environment where we are protecting one child or showing favoritism by choosing the side of one child over the other.


Author of the upcoming book Been There Done That: And Lived to Tell About It (due out Spring 2011), Tamara R. Allen is Your Advice Guru giving REAL advice from REAL experience. Email your questions to [email protected]. You can follow Tamara on twitter @tamararallen or check out her daily column and archives at www.tamararallen.com.