How do you handle those inevitable daily arguments between your kids?

How do you handle those inevitable daily arguments between your kids? Do you get frustrated, yell and make threats, knowing you won’t follow through? Some kids are sent to their rooms or put in time out when they fight with one another. Spanking is a popular form of correction among parents who believe that hitting their child will teach him to resolve his conflicts without yelling or hitting others. Yelling, threatening, punishment and hitting are the go-to choices parents often make when their child misbehaves, but none of those actions teach the desired behavior. Some excuses I’ve heard include, “That’s how my parents did it, and I turned out OK.”

None of this makes sense to me, because these actions don’t teach the desired behavior, or how to resolve conflicts. As parents, our purpose is to teach our children how to be successful in life. So when a mom asked how she might stop her children from tattling and learn how to work things out for themselves, we came up with a plan. Recently, I had the privilege of watching her two children work through the process.


Ben, 6, came crying from the playroom into the kitchen, where we were sitting. His 4-year-old sister Sara followed sheepishly behind. Mom asked Ben why he was crying and he blurted that his sister called him names and refused to play with him.


This mom offered empathy saying she was sorry her son’s feelings were hurt. She directed Sara to the couch to wait patiently and invited Ben to sit on the chair next to her to think. She encouraged him to think of how he felt, and what he would like to do about it. He was not to think of a retaliatory punishment for his sister, but rather to take this time to decide what he would like his sister to know.


After some time he told his mom he was ready, and approached the couch where Sara was waiting for his response. He told her that she hurt his feelings and that he was really upset that she wouldn’t play with him. Mom prompted Ben to wait patiently while Sara decided what she wanted to say to her brother. Sara said she was sorry for hurting his feelings and was ready to play nicely with him.

Too many times parents jump in and act as referees, just to stop the noise. Chaos ensues, threats and punishments are handed out without thought, and the opportunity is lost for children to learn how to resolve their differences. Next time the fighting ignites in your home teach your children the simple steps they need to communicate with thought and resolve conflicts in a healthy way.

Diana Boggia, M.Ed., is a parenting coach who lives in Stark County, Ohio. She is author of “Parenting with a Purpose.” Send your child-rearing questions to or The Repository, c/o Family Matters, 500 Market Ave. S, Canton OH 44702. Find parenting resources at her website,