Well I asked and you responded! Thanks for all the great advice in dealing with my bickering children. Here’s the general consensus:
1. It’s normal. Many of you said that your kids fought like crazy and now as adults are quite close. (Very encouraging!)
2. If they are well-behaved outside the home, you must be doing something right. Good point. They do know how to behave and that is an important thing.
3. Stay out of it. This one hit me the hardest. Why am I trying to solve their disputes?? Probably because I don’t want them to be yelling and fighting. But they really need to learn the skill of a good argument and a good resolution. If I’m running around with my black and white stripes and whistle, calling fouls and enforcing penalties, am I actually teaching them or am I interfering with their natural learning process?
My youngest is seven so they already have the foundation of what proper behavior is. They know when they are acting selfish, rude or cruel. They don’t really need me to tell them. They need to take responsibility for their actions with each other and maybe they will do that better if I’m not involved. I’ve created the monster by getting involved every time I hear, “Moooooooooooooom, he’s (insert annoying behavior here)!!!!
I don’t generally volunteer my involvement. I do usually sit back and see if they can work it out on their own. But here’s what I think I need to change. I allow them to pull me in. I allow them to come tattling to me and then I get involved, trying to settle their dispute.
Not anymore. I’m going to tell them I quit my referee job. I’m hanging up my whistle. I’ll let you know how it goes 🙂