Brothers and sisters who argue and fight every time they are in the same room are sometimes doing so because they don’t know how to share with each other, or they are bored/at a loose end, or even to gain attention from their parents. The following steps can help to keep things calm when your children are sharing space, and can allow you to move away and leave them for a while (if they are old enough to be left unsupervised) to play independently:
1.Be present at the start of their time together so that you can set the tone, model positive interaction and be clear about how you want them to behave. ‘Pay into the bank’, i.e. provide some good quality attention to each child, thus reducing demands on you a little later. Join in their game(s). Ensure they are occupied in something that won’t end in tears and, if appropriate, that they know how to move on to the next activity
2.At a point when they are calm and engaged in a joint activity or separate games, prepare them by saying: ‘In a moment when we have …(finished this part of the picture)….., I need to go and…(get the washing in/answer an email)..….. Leo, which part are you going to paint? Sammie, what are you going to do whilst Mummy is busy?’ Setting them up to do something without you can be important to keep the peace. Tell them when you will be back to give more attention and discuss what you might all do when you have finished your job. It is important that they know they will be provided with positive attention in the near future.
3.Leave them but monitor the situation – keep popping to see if they are ok and praise them if they are playing calmly either together or separately (catching them being appropriate, and commenting, is a powerful way to improve behaviour). Use descriptive praise: ‘I like the way you are playing calmly together with the Lego’, rather than a general ‘well done’.
4.Re-join them properly for some quality time after a short break, and exactly when you said you would.
5.Repeat the steps above to get yourself another quick break! In this way you can slowly build up the time they can peacefully spend together in the same vicinity!
Feel free to contact me if you would like further support and guidance on this topic