Horizon ChildrenBickering between siblings and friends is a normal rite of passage for children, but it puts parental patience to the test. On MSN Glo, child behavior expert Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, author of Kids, Parents and Power Struggles, recently weighed in on bickering. We think the parents of our Lorain County childcare charges will find her recommendations alternately reassuring or myth-busting but entirely useful.

The Horizon Education staff has shared below some of the suggestions we have found to be most helpful in quelling bickering and helping children master desirable social skills. Click here to review the full list of 10 suggestions on MSN Glo.

  • Don’t hesitate to intervene. Many parents refuse to interfere with bickering matches in the belief that bickering helps children develop necessary negotiation and conflict resolution skills. However, Kurcinka says such skills must be taught. She recommends that parents step in and guide children toward a fair resolution of their differences as soon as they see children struggling to maintain control.
  • Teach; don’t yell. Bickering is a hot button issue for many parents. When bickering starts, parents just want it to stop; but yelling, “Stop that!” at your children fails to make use of an important opportunity to teach your children about the cause and effect of their actions. Instead of yelling, encourage each child to express his own feelings and try to understand how the other child feels.
  • Provide a verbal road map. Young children are often capable of conflict resolution but lack the necessary verbal skills to resolve their differences. Without words, frustrated toddlers may resort to hitting or biting. Parents need to teach young children what to say by modeling appropriate phrases such as “I’m still playing with that toy.” or “Can I play with that toy next?”

For more tips on handling bickering, talk to Horizon Education Centers’ childcare experts.