3 Things to Teach Your Kids to Say to Reduce Sibling Fighting

sibling fighting

Sibling fighting can happen year round but it can go through the roof during the summer. But this shouldn’t surprise you.  They are together all the time and don’t get a break from each other like they do the rest of the year when they get to have their space in their own classroom, with their own friends.  

Beth Anne Tieche from @lowliftfun talks about how parents can use phrases to teach siblings to  collaborate, improvise and self-advocate. Summer  is a great time to improve the relationship between siblings so we are going to talk about three of the phrases that can be helpful.

(Tieche, Beth Ann [lowliftfun]. “A Dozen Things to Teach Kids to Say to Siblings.” * Instagram, June 20, 2024, https://www.instagram.com/p/C8dV-VkMFsb/?igsh=MWQ1ZGUxMzBkMA==)


Phrase # 1 – “What’s your Idea?”

Most kids think their ideas are the best ideas and when it comes to something like choosing what game to play and what movie to watch they want to decide based on what they want to do.  This can lead to fighting among siblings because both want their own way.  Compromise is a big part of any relationship, and it’s definitely important for siblings to practice on a regular basis.  

Talk to your kids about how we all have different likes and dislikes and preferences on how we do things, and that’s okay.  Encourage them to use the phrase, “What’s your idea?” when they are trying to make a choice about something or they are trying to solve a problem together instead of demanding that their way is the only way.  

This will help them show their sibling that they care about their preferences and want to work together to come up with a solution.  When they practice using this phrase, they will learn to be considerate of others and open to collaborating. 

Phrase # 2 – “This isn’t fun for me”

Sometimes kids have a hard time explaining why they don’t want to do something or why they are not engaging.  They may not even know why they don’t want to, they just know they don’t. They may just walk away or refuse to do something and that can be very frustrating to their siblings, leading to a fight. 

Most kids will agree that if something is not fun then they don’t want to do it.  So an easy way for them to explain themselves when they need to ‘check out’ or not participate can be to simply say, “This isn’t fun for me”.  More than likely, this would make sense to their sibling and they would be less likely to get mad. Just walking away or shutting down, triggers frustration and anger from their sibling, but by saying “this isn’t fun for me” they are creating an opportunity to transition to another activity, something that they both enjoy.  

So if their sibling is badgering them to play one more round of a game that they don’t like, they can use this phrase.  This is a way for them to self-advocate and not continue to be pushed into continuing to do something they don’t want to do. Self-advocacy skills are essential in adulthood so practicing them as a child is important.


Phrase # 3 – “I hear you. I will stop.”

A very common issue among siblings is the constant picking, and that almost always leads to fights and/or arguments.  It could be repeated comments being made or repeatedly putting their hands on each other (poking, wrestling, hitting). But kids are notorious for just doing this over and over even when their sibling asks them to stop.  Some adults just brush it off and say, “that’s just what siblings do”, but how is that teaching them to respect the boundaries of others and when someone says no, they mean no?

Talk to your kids about the importance of listening and acting.  When their sibling asks them to stop doing something to show them respect and stop doing it.  By saying “I hear you. I will stop.” they are going a step further and acknowledging that they hear them and they care about them so they will stop.  Building that respect between each other will deepen their bond and help them develop empathy.

So teach them to recognize when they have crossed that line and need to back off and that they should then say, “I hear you. I will stop.” Respecting the boundaries of their siblings will teach them to respect those boundaries of others in their life, now and when they grow up.


There is no way that parents can eliminate all sibling fights, but it is possible to offer support and teach your kids skills to reduce the fighting and teach them important life skills along the way.  Teaching your kids how to speak up and use words and phrases to express their thoughts and feelings can be helpful for them with sibling relationships and relationships with friends and other family members.

If you need more help addressing sibling issues with your kids, contact us, we are here to help.



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