24 solutions to sibling squabbles during Lockdown

Childhood Magic
4 min readFeb 22, 2021
  1. Keep topping up their food and drink as if they are “hangry” problems are more likely to occur.
  2. Get them outside, wading through muddy puddles and climbing trees. My boys are always at their best when they are outdoors and solving a problem together. I marvelled when I saw my eldest son turn himself into a human step so that his brother could climb onto his back and onto the next rung in a soft play stair case.
  3. Find common interests that they can enjoy together. My younger sons recently discovered the delights of Disney Infinity. Their older brother loved helping them and was so excited when he realised that all the rooms that he had created were all still saved in the game.
  4. Praise them when they are helping each other and being kind, with a detailed remark about what they are doing that is so kind. Even if it is a small gesture it will mean a lot to them if they are noticed for doing something and feel more inclined to do it again.
  5. Ramp up the slapstick humour. If you can say or do something funny or silly it can help to diffuse the situation and move on from it.
  6. Rough play causes much hilarity in our house, especially when all the boys are in cahoots against Daddy. It helps them to realise how strong they are and to know when they need to keep within the boundary of having fun without hurting anyone.
  7. Get together for a movie night and find movies that they will all enjoy and find amusing.
  8. Games where they compete against Daddy are always good for building up sibling comradeship such as Monopoly, Frustration, Scrabble, Jenga, Limbo, Egg and Spoon races and races down the garden.
  9. Find storybooks and fact books that the kids are all interested in and can share together.
  10. Let them have a sleepover together, the giggles, cuddles and antics are what memories are made of.
  11. Ask the older children to support the younger ones with school work and read stories and jokes to them. It can really boost their confidence when they make their little brother laugh when they read to them.
  12. Make time for one-to-one time with each child doing what they love most.
  13. Try to instill empathy in your children for others, especially their siblings by talking about what they are going through and reminding them of a time they felt similar.
  14. Remind them of funny or moving stories they were all part of, and how they felt and supported each other.
  15. Hum or play tunes that they enjoy and will sing along to.
  16. Remember they are not deliberately being mean to each other. There is always a driving force behind the big feelings. Especially at the moment when we are locked down and under the pressures of homeschooling. It’s natural that they are going to feel cranky and take frustrations out on to the person closest to them. We recently devoured the Ted Lasso series on Apple TV and I think his motto inspired by Walt Whitman, “Be curious not judgemental.” is a great one to remember in this situation.
  17. When a problem does occur try to bring calm to the chaos. It’s easy to wade in shouting and send the offenders to their rooms but this builds more resentment, anger, and feelings of alienation. Sometimes you can stay quiet but get close to the child who is most irate or upset, sit them on your lap, and stroke their hair. Then calmly suggest that they can sort this out. Name the feeling and what happened and ask them how they can make things better so that they can continue their game. When they do this praise the way that they worked as a team to solve a problem.
  18. Remember it’s not a perfect science. There will be problems and the most important thing is to try to stay calm, keep everyone safe and remind them of how much you love them.
  19. Ali Mclure suggests before going into a situation, imagine that you are giving yourself a shower of smiles to help you feel more positive. She has a great A to Z of tips here. https://www.alimcclure.co.uk/resources
  20. Use small gestures to show your child how much you care and bring them close to you. You could ruffle their hair, put your hand on their shoulder, and give them big bear hugs. Maggie Dent suggests a bedtime ritual whereby you say “I love you more than all the grains of sand on every beach, more than all the stars in the night sky and more than all the hairs on all the bears.” She calls this “a micro-moment of connection, or love bridge.” You could change the phrase with all sorts of combinations to intrigue and amuse your children. My son finds it fascinating and loves making up his own phrases for me.
  21. We just laughed our way through the movie Flora and Ulysses on Disney plus. There was a great quote in there which applies well to this situation. “Do not hope but observe.” Instead of hoping that things will improve watch what is happening carefully and look for the wonder within the moment and how you can help the siblings get through awkward situations.
  22. Talk about the children’s strengths together and also the things they need more help with right now.
  23. When you make a mistake or overreact in a situation, be honest and apologise. It’s good for them to see it’s normal to make mistakes and that you can rectify them.
  24. Returning to Ted Lasso, his advice to “Be a goldfish.” will help in this situation. Goldfish are happy as they have a 10 second memory and don’t dwell on mistakes. Move on from squabbles and don’t dwell on them so that you can all have a fresh start.

Please share your best tactics for promoting sibling harmony and having fun together, especially in Lockdown.

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