Let’s Talk About Fighting :: One Mom’s Attempts to Prevent Sibling Squabbles

Oh, the fighting! I was raised the oldest of 4 kids. I saw how we fought ALL THE TIME—especially my two brothers. I’m forever indebted to my poor mom for all she had to endure!

When I became a mom and had my first three boys in 15 months, followed by another boy two years later and finally a baby girl two years ago, I knew that I had to think of something to prevent non-stop fighting in our family. Today I want to share three traditions that we have implemented in our home to prevent *some* {not all, because we are still raising 5 humans, after all} of the inevitable fights in our household.

Disclaimer :: I am a big believer that every child and every family is different, so my hope in sharing these is to inspire you to take these ideas and see how you might tweak them {or create something infinitely better} to make them work for you. I am a mom in the trenches trying to do what works for my family, just like you. What works for my family may or may not work for your family and vice versa. And that’s OK–no judging!

Whose day is it?

If you hang around our family for a day, you will at some point during the day hear one of us say, “Whose day is it?” We go through a rotation 1,2,3,4,5,1,2,3,4,5… So if yesterday was child #1’s day {my first two boys are twins, but my “oldest” son is a whole minute older and he will probably never let his brothers forget it}, today is child #2’s day. Tomorrow will be child #3’s day. We add a child to the rotation when he or she turns 2, so now all five of our kiddos are in the rotation.

When it’s “your day,” you pick what we watch on TV {parents get final approval, of course}. You get to choose the first toy in the playroom. If Mom or Dad has to run an errand, you get to come along. If it’s “your day,” and you are not sitting in a booster/car seat, you get to pick your seat first in the car/van. You also get to request the songs we listen to while we’re driving {again, parents get final approval}.

I can’t even tell you how much this little method has saved us. It has made it easier for our kids to relinquish their favorite toys or not complain about the TV show chosen by a sibling, because they know that in a few days, it will come back to them and they can be in control again. It also makes one-on-one time easier to keep track of and no one feels like we are playing favorites.

Today It’s Yours, Tomorrow It’s Everyone’s

The rule at our house is simple :: if you get new toys for a birthday or holiday {or because grandma came to town…}, you do not have to share them that day. But the next day, that toy belongs to the family and anyone can play with it. I know this sounds a little crazy, but for our family {especially our four boys}, it has been so helpful.

Fights are rare when a child brings a new toy home because everybody knows he doesn’t have to share the first day.  When the child chooses to share anyway, my mom heart does a little victory dance.  Often when one sibling is envious of a new toy, we will hear a comment like, “That’s OK, in two days it will be my day and I’ll pick that toy first.”  The key with this rule is consistency. We had to make it a consistent rule for all toys. We don’t apply this to wearable things like hats/watches/clothes/shoes and our only exceptions are when all four boys receive the same toy and we label them—then each boy needs to keep and take care of his own toy.

It’s OK to feel angry

We want our children to be able to experience and identify a full range of emotions. They’re humans. When our children {especially our boys} feel angry, we try to help them see that there is nothing wrong with them for feeling angry—everyone feels anger sometimes. What matters is what we do with that emotion. We have challenged each of our boys to find ways to express that anger that don’t involve hurting someone else. Dr. Julie Hanks  describes emotions as “Energy-in-Motion.” She says, “Feelings are not inherently good or bad; they are simply information to help guide us through our [lives].”

Some of our boys punch pillows. Others stomp around for a minute. Sometimes they just need to walk around to cool off. Sometimes they just need to growl and sit on their beds. One of my boys calms down by rocking in a rocker. The point is instead of shaming them into trying to suppress naturally occurring emotions, we want them to recognize and acknowledge those emotions and then realize that emotions themselves are not inherently good or bad. It is our actions that matter. I also try to point out to my kids {as calmly as I can…} when I am feeling angry. Sometimes I will say something like, “I am too angry right now, I will be back in a minute,” and I walk away to calm down {and pray!}.

Let's Talk About Fighting: One Mom's Attempts to Prevent Sibling Squabbles | Houston Moms Blog

What Works For You and Yours?

The fact that these rules and systems are already in place really helps our kids know what to expect. Traditions help build unity within families. These traditions have helped our family avoid some of the fights that I lived through for most of my childhood. Don’t get me wrong, my boys still find plenty to fight about. I hope these spark some ideas for ways that you can help prevent the recurring fights in your household. If you have some gems, share them below! Sharing is caring—we’re all in this together!

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Alissa is a wife to her best friend {since 2003} and a grateful mother to four boys {2009, 2009, 2010, 2012) and one girl {2015}. And if you're going to be friends, you should know she has a deep and abiding love of chocolate. She's survived infertility, IVF, two NICUs, cloth diapers, a food allergy, and so much more! In 2017, she officially began writing and publishing children's books and LOVES it! When she's not writing or picking her kids up from school, she'd like to be reading/singing/laughing/napping/traveling/crafting/learning something new. But in reality, she's probably grocery shopping/cleaning something/telling her boys to stop fighting. She lives in Katy, blogs at AliMcJoy.com, and occasionally visits Instagram {@alimcjoy}, and Facebook {@alimcjoy}. She is a big believer in living life--especially mothering--with intentionality. If she's learned anything it's that accidental success is a myth: decisions determine destiny. She will also be the first to tell you she is not even close to perfect, but she's giving life her best shot one jam-packed day at a time.


  1. These are great! Kids are practically obsessed with justice and fairness, so they would buy right into these ideas.

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