The Taming of the Siblings - Expert Advice from Moms in the Trenches

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MOPS International {Mothers of Preschoolers} Moms know if you have more than one child, there will be fighting: Moms weigh in on keeping the peace without feeling like a full time WWF referee. This original material has not previously been published, and can be reprinted, in part or whole, crediting MOPS International {Mothers of Preschoolers} and referencing our website at

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My mom used to make my brother and I sit directly across from each other
and stare at each other.
After five minutes
we usually were laughing.

MOPS International {Mothers of Preschoolers} Kids will be kids, but to they really have to fight all the time? Some twins start their boxing matches in utero, big sisters are almost always bossy, and little brothers are almost always in the way of their big sisters. What’s a frazzled mom to do? Ask her mom friends, of course! Moms weigh in on their best strategies for handling sibling squabbles.

Emily in Michigan says, “I have an eight year old girl and five year old boy. When they fight I make them sit criss cross applesauce and touch noses for five minutes while saying five nice things about the other one.”

“I let them hash it out. Of course if it gets out of hand I will step in but they need to learn to resolve their own issues with each other. I feel it's my job as a parent to teach them to fight fair and use their words, not their fists.” says Shannon, mom of two boys 11 and 4.

Kristen in Wisconsin has three kids under 6 and says, “If my two oldest can't get along while playing I give them a job to do together, for example, dusting all the base boards. They quickly realize that playing together is more fun than working together and that usually does the trick. Plus it’s one less job for mom!”

Mom of three Missa got a great tip from a friend, “They get a choice: They can share now, or share in one minute. Either way they share, but making the decision themselves makes it more agreeable. By the way they always seem to choose the ‘share in one minute’ option!”
Erin has a simple answer, “Only have one child!”

“When my first two kids were very young we came up with a family motto. It is, ‘"Family - We are a team!"’ When my kids would begin to instigate trouble with one another, I would remind them of this and tell them that winning teams work together,” says Gayle, captain to a team of four kids.

Maryanne gives credit for this great idea to her own mom, “My mom used to make my brother and I sit directly across from each other and stare at each other. After five minutes we usually were laughing.”

Cari has four boisterous boys. Her solution? “Send them outside to run laps!”
”I learned a cool method when I was an elementary school teacher and had to create an encouraging environment for 25 kids. Get a clear jar and place it where all can see it but not reach it. Tell the kids that when you ‘"catch them being kind or sharing, using encouraging words or playing well together,"’ that you'll put a marble in the jar, and the goal is to get 20 marbles. Encourage a particular child by saying, ‘"Andy just earned a marble for the family because his teacher just complimented his good listening!"’ Be very proactive at first about rewarding their great behavior so they can see the jar getting filled and want to buy into the system. When there are 20 marbles in the jar, you will all do something special as a family, like go out for ice cream or take a special trip to the park. Mom or Dad can also take marbles out of the jar. If squabbling happens, you say very calmly, ‘"oh dear, you guys just lost a marble for arguing."’ This winning idea comes from Shelley, a mom of four and former elementary school teacher.

Tuneful mom Sarah breaks out in song, “I start singing operatic style ‘"puuulEEeeaaaaase stop fighting. It's dooooing my head iiiiiin ...”’ I just make it up as I go. They LOATHE me singing. Works every time with fights and misbehavior. I just threaten, ‘“I’ll sing!"’

While the kids are busy squabbling, moms keep fighting the good fight to be the best moms they can be! MOPS {Mothers of Preschoolers} believes better moms make a better world; we are here to equip and encourage moms of children age birth through kindergarten and beyond. Visit our Find a Group page at to find a MOPS group near you.

About MOPS International
Denver-based MOPS International is a non-profit ministry that creates communities to help “Better Moms Make A Better World.” Since 1973, MOPS International has served millions of mothers and families in thousands of local MOPS groups across the U.S. and in 38 countries internationally. MOPS ministries include Classic MOPS, Teen MOPS, Military MOPS, International MOPS and MOMSnext. MOPS is the best in the world at creating authentic communities of growth that invite women into a spiritual relationship. [ __title__ ]    [ __title__ ] [ __title__ ] [ __title__ ]


Elizabeth Sagaser, MOPS International
P: 800.929.1287

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