7 Things You Can Do to Stop Your Kids From Fighting & Help Them Learn to Get Along

“Do your kids ever fight?” A mom friend asked me this question recently as we were loading up in the car and I kind of shrugged and laughed and told her, “Yeah, of course they do.” Here’s the deal: Yes, my kids are mostly well-behaved toward each other in public, and I’m really thankful for that, because they are good kids. But, also? Just because they are well behaved in public doesn’t mean that they never fight, because if I’m honest, OH MY GOD, YES, they fight. A LOT. Especially my girls. Sometimes they fight so much that I start to question my parenting skills. How can I make them get along??

The truth is, I can’t. My girls are two very different people. One is quiet and reserved, neat and organized; the other dramatic and messy and definitely not afraid to tell you how she feels. Loudly. And both are so stubborn (what can I say, they come by it honestly). To complicate things, they share a not-very-large bedroom in our not-very-large house, where even the smallest of us can be hard-put to find personal space.

Some day, probably years from now, I hope they’ll be good friends, but as they head into their tween and teen years, I suspect it’s going to get worse before it gets better. So in the meantime, here is what we do to help them work it out without fighting.

Acknowledge their differences: let them know that it’s okay that they don’t like the same things, or feel the same way about things. After all, the world would be a very boring place if we were all the exact same person.

Give them their own space: this can be really hard in our house because we have so many people in such a small space. But it can be done. For example, since Sophia is older, typically has more work/needs less assistance, and needs quiet to work, she gets first dibs on the desk in their room during homework time. It takes some thought and creativity, but we do our best to give them spaces where they can have alone time if necessary.

Address their arguing calmly (model the behavior you want to see): sometimes, I really just want to scream at them to STOP.THE.FREAKING.ARGUING.ALREADY!, but that is a) totally not productive and b) a really poor example of how to deal with anger and frustration. That’s not to say that I never get angry, frustrated & fed up, nor should it imply that I never yell at them- because I do. But I try very hard to stay calm and keep my frustration in check.

Don’t try to solve their problems for them: If I am always providing the solution for them, they will never work out how to solve their differences. I try to leave it up to them to work out a solution to whatever issue is bothering the two of them. If they can’t get to it on their own, I will offer a few different solutions to choose from, and leave it to them to work it out. They also know that they can ask for help (hopefully calmly, rather than screaming, yelling, or tattling) if they cannot reach a solution.

Set expectations for behavior: the thing is, it’s okay to disagree. It’s okay to dislike someone’s actions. It’s okay to have feelings. But this is important : what is NOT okay is to treat anyone with disrespect just because you don’t like something they said or did. We spend a lot of time in our house talking about appropriate reactions to other people’s behavior and how to ask adults for help in handling problems when you truly need it. My kids know that they are EXPECTED to be respectful of other people’s bodies, feelings, and space, even when they disagree with them. What this looks like for us : we don’t put our hands on other people’s bodies, regrdless of their words (it is important to note here that my kids are also allowed to defend themselves if they find themselves in a situation in which words are not working or they are threatened with bodily harm- but that’s a whole different discussion). We tell people how we feel instead of lashing out at them. Do my kids follow this perfectly all the time? No, of course not. They’re kids, they make mistakes. We ALL make mistakes, which leads me to the final, and posibly most important, point-

Enforce consequences: if there are no consequences for their negative behavior, there is not incentive for them to change it. When my kids behave in a way that is inappropriate, there are consequences for their actions. I try to make sure that consequences happen in a timely manner (not hours or days after an issue arises), are age- appropriate (Theo may have a time out while the others may get grounded or lose other privileges, etc.), are proportionate and relative to their actions (for example, if someone says something nasty to someone else, they might then have to do 3 nice things for them), and are meaningful (they have a definite impact on my kids). In our house we have a reward system that allows my kids to collect and save up marbles in a jar that add up to an opportunity to choose a special outing with mom or dad. When they do certain positive behaviors, they get marbles to add to their jars. If they do certain negative behaviors (like fighting with each other), they have an immediate consequence- currently, they have to hand over a book out of their personal collection if they treat each other with disrespect- and it is working pretty well.

Drink wine : I’m joking! But really, know that arguing and fighting are, to a certain extent, part of a healthy relationship. Obviously knock-down, drag-out physical fights are not okay, but nobody is perfect, and nobody gets along with everyone all the time.

Easy "Stained Glass" Sun Catchers

When I was in high school, we had a service requirement to graduate. In my senior year, my best friend and I were volunteering together in a local nursing home, mainly on a floor with Alzheimer's and dementia patients. Up until that point, my interaction with people who needed constant care in that capacity was fairly limited- when I was VERY young we used to visit a second cousin who had cerebral palsy and some other conditions, and I had a great grandmother who suffered from Alzheimers- and I have to admit that it took me very far out of my comfort zone. I think I just had a hard time knowing how to act with the residents- these people so much older than me, but many of them needing to be cared for like children- so I struggled with it so much.

Which is why I think it's great that the fifth grade class at my kids' school spends some time during the school year visiting with the residents at a nursing home/assisted living facility nearby. The kids go 3-4 times over the course of the year to spend time with the residents, and it's really interesting to see the change in their approach to things as the year goes on. Usually on their first visit, most of the students are pretty quiet and unsure of where to go, but by the time they have their last vsit, they've gotten comfortable, both in the facility itself, and with the residents.

Usually, the class brings along some sort of craft or activity to do (so everyone's not just sitting around staring at each other) and they might have a snack or treat, play games, and sing together. And since I am the classroom parent for my daughter's class, her teacher asked me to help with crafts for the kids to do with the residents. This turned out to be harder than it sounds, because they had to be something that didn't take too long, was easy to transport to the facility, could be done by two or 3 people at the same time, and had to be fairly easy in terms of motor skills so that the residents could participate. Oh, and we wanted it to be something fun to display, because the residents would keep them.

My most favorite one was the one we did on their last visit, this spring. These sun catchers were easy for the kids and residents to do together (in most cases the kids handled the glue while the residents chose the color and placement of the tissue paper), and they look so bright and cheery hanging in the windows. The 5th graders really enjoyed makng them, and my 4 & 5 year-old testers had no problem doing them all by themselves, so they are gorgeous and great for any age! And you may already have most of the items at home, but if you don't, you can find all of them at the dollar store.

To make these stained glass suncatchers, you'll need:

Sun Catcher Supplies
  • Tissue paper in various colors (I just bought a package of 24 sheets in multiple colors)
  • Clear plastic plates
  • School glue
  • a small bowl
  • Foam brush of large-ish paint brush
  • Twine, yarn or ribbon
  • Hot glue gun

Pour some glue into your bowl. Working in sections, use the foam brush to paint glue on the top side of the plate.

Easy Stained Glass Sun Catchers

Lay pieces of tissue in a single layer on top of the glue. The pieces of tissue paper can overlap at the edges, but you want to avoid laying too many pieces on top of each other, so the sun can still filter through. 

Easy Stained Glass Sun Catchers

Gently paint a second layer of glue over the tissue paper, smoothing out any bumps or pieces hanging over the edge. Allow to dry. When the glue is dry, hot glue a loop of yarn, twine or ribbon to the back of the plate. Hang in a window that gets lots of sun.

Easy Stained Glass Sun Catchers

When I prepped everything to take to the nursing home, I pre-cut the tissue paper into squares and hot-glued loops of twine to the backs of the plates ahead of time, but you can let the kids do the cutting (or tear the tissue paper), and add your hanger whenever works for you.

Winter Boredom Buster: DIY Cardboard Tube Swords

Well, its that time of year again. Christmas and the New Year have come and gone, and we're digging for the cold winter months. Winter came into our area full-force over Christmas and I have a feeling we're going to be spending a lot of time cooped up inside over the next few months. Which means that I'm going to be looking for lots of ways to stave off boredom and keep my kids from fighting over EVERY. LITTLE. THING. Because, let's be honest, short days + cold weather + being stuck inside = cranky kids (and mom & dad, too). So, hopefully, over the next days/weeks/months, I'll be sharing with you easy crafts and activities to help keep the boredom at bay.

Today I'm going to share with you a quick tutorial on how to make these cardboard swords. I actually made these for an event I did at work in early December, and had extras that I passed on to my kids. They go together pretty quickly and my kids have played with them quite a bit over the last few weeks. If you're like me, you'll even have leftover cardboard boxes and wrapping paper tubes from Christmas, which makes these super easy to do!



For the swords, you will need:

  • Cardboard tubes- when I made these for work, I raided my wrapping paper, unrolling the rolls that had only a little bit of paper left, and stealing the tubes inside. Now, I have some more tubes from Christmas wrapping, but if you didn't just happen to save them to add to your ever-growing stash of cardboard like me, fear not! You can make cardboard tubes by scoring a rectangle of thin-ish cardboard, rolling it up, and hot glueing the edge.
  • Pencil
  • Masking tape (I couldn't find my masking tape, so I used blue painter's tape, instead).

Not Pictured:

  • A piece of thin-ish flat cardboard- like the side of a box, or an empty cereal box.
  • Craft knife
  • Hot glue gun
  • Foil (optional)
  • Markers/gems/glue/paint/decorations (also optional)

It's going to look like there are a lot of steps to making these swords, but that's because I wanted to break them WAAAY down to make them really easy, so don't worry, and don't feel overwhelmed!

  1. If your cardboard tubes are long, trim off the end to your desired length. I probably made mine about 24 inches.
  2. Flatten one end slightly and cut a curved edge (be careful to round out the top point a little bit so that it isn't TOO sharp; some of mine were actually sharper than I wanted and I had to go back and round them off some more):


        3. Tape off this edge with masking tape:


        4. If you would like to cover the blade with foil to make it look more like a sword, now is the               time. Simply wrap pieces of foil around it (if you want, you can hot glue them to give them             more staying power). I left my swords uncovered for two reasons: a) I was worried the foil            would give them too sharp of an edge and b) I was giving kids free reign to decorate them            as they chose.

       5. On your flat piece of cardboard, draw one rectangle per sword. I made mine 3x12 inches,                but you can make any size you want as long as they are wider than the width of your                      sword blade. These will be the hand guards. Cut out using your craft knife:


        6. On the left side of the hand guard, trace the bottom round edge of your blade and cut it                 out with your craft knife.


       7. Slide hand guard up over the bottom of the blade. Make sure the hand guard is extending             out to the right, and that the curved edge of the blade is facing the same direction:

       8. Bend right side of hand guard down, forming a "D" shape, and hot glue to the bottom of                the blade. Hold for a few seconds to make sure the hot glue dries:


       9. Let your kids decorate them with paint, markers, gems, etc. (this keeps them occupied                    longer!), and when they are dry, they are ready to sword fight!

Just a note about safety- before letting my kids play with these swords, we talked about making sure that they were hitting SWORDS ONLY, not people, so no one got hurt.

And that's it! My kids have spent several hours sword-fighting, playing pretend, and just generally enjoying their swords!

Thankful Turkey

I took a shower today.

I feel pretty good about it.

Not just one of those quick showers where you hop in and wash up, leaving your hair unwashed. Nope. A real, full-fledged shower. With face, body AND hair washing. And all the grooming. It was SO nice, you guys. Sometimes, it is the smallest things in life that make us happy. We're so busy that I can go days (yes, days, sometimes up to a week) without actually washing my hair (hello, dry shampoo!). And sometimes, when we get so busy, we forget to be thankful for all the amazing people and things we have in our lives (like showers).

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