Inside: Learn the best and most effective parenting phrase to use when intervening with kids fighting or any type of day to day family conflict.
Emotions are running high right now for your family. I know this because they’re running high in mine too.
“Mom, she said she hated me!”
“Well, I never want to play with you again anyway!”
…and that all happened on the other side of the bathroom door in a 30-second time span of the kids fighting.
With everyone at home together all. the. time. stress levels are at an all-time high, making it truly difficult for all parties involved (small or large) to keep their cool and practice good communication and emotional regulation skills.
We know from studying the brain that when emotions get bigger, reason and logic get smaller. This happens because when the brain’s emotion-center (amygdala) is activated the thinking center’ (pre-frontal cortex) quite literally goes ‘off-line’ and is harder to access. (Think of when you’re really nervous and your mind blanks.)
Your kids are not exempt from the stressors piling up around us right now. Unpredictability abounds and all of the routines and structures that keep kids emotionally tethered have been taken away.
For many families, this means sibling fighting is at an all-time high.
I want to share the magic phrase that has been a lifesaver for me during this time at home with my kids and family.
The anti-dote to kids fighting
When it comes to children fighting (or any two parties communicating positively) there’s a primary skill I learned in my family therapy training that works like magic.
This approach works so well because as opposed to most attempts at conflict resolution, it avoids blaming and criticism which puts the other person on the defensive.
It also effectively communicates what the individual needs, which is a vital part of resolving conflict that often gets left out.
Finally, it’s an amazing way to help your child build self-awareness, emotional intelligence, problem-solving skills, and communication skills that will help their future relationships thrive.
So what is this amazingly powerful strategy to use when kids are fighting?
The basic concept is what’s known as an “I statement”, or making sure to start your phrase with an ‘I’ instead of “You”….but it doesn’t stop there.
There’s a specific ‘I statement’ phrase that can be used in just about any situation where tensions are rising with siblings fighting or in any family conflict.
Why ‘I statements’ are so effective for helping siblings in conflict
Sibling conflict often feels overwhelming to address as a parent, which leads to parents either avoiding their kids fighting all-together or quickly jumping in to manage and negotiate the conflict for them.
Both approaches fall short when it comes to teaching a child the valuable conflict resolution and communication skills they need to get along with others.
The power of an ‘I statement’ is pretty remarkable. Not only does it streamline communication in a way that side-steps arguments, put-downs, and negativity it’s also very easy to remember.
If you make this magic statement a habit, your brain will file it away as the magical tool it is, and you’ll have it in your back pocket ready to dissolve any sibling conflicts that pop up.
The magic phrase for when your kids are fighting or bickering.
This phrase is golden because not only does it start with “I feel’ which keeps the focus on the child speaking and not on attacking the sibling, but it also proceeds to deliver information about the WHY behind their emotions and the NEED or BOUNDARY that lies beneath.
Your new favorite sentence:
I feel ________ when ________ and I need you to please _________.
Pretty amazing right?!?
Here are some examples.
“I feel overwhelmed when you talk to me while I’m doing my homework and I need you to give me 10 minutes.”
“I feel angry when you call me stupid and I need you to not call me names.”
“I feel left out when you play with Sam more than me and I need some playtime with you too.”
It’s all but impossible to be reactive or negative with someone when they are genuinely communicating about their own experience, thoughts, and emotions.
This miracle phrase for kids fighting (or anyone in distress!) dissolves defensiveness and reactivity while also equipping the other child with the specific information they need to move forward positively (talk about killing two birds with one stone!).
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So often we tell kids what not to do while forgetting that they need teaching and guidance on what they should do.
Not to mention each child is learning invaluable lessons in the process:
- I can stay calm in the face of conflict
- My words are powerful for getting along with others
- My needs are important and I can express them
- I can try to understand how I’m feeling
- My feelings matter and affect my actions
- I can show others respect by talking instead of yelling or being mean when upset
Don’t underestimate the power of repetition and practice when it comes to teaching kids conflict resolution
Simply prompting your child with this phrase whenever you hear tensions rising, will work miracles to help resolve family and sibling conflict.
With time and repetition, you’ll soon be able to whip this phrase out on auto-pilot… and what’s even better is that will time and repetition your kids will start to use the phrase unprompted on their own!
Now go enjoy a calmer home!
Here’s a printable just for you that will make it easy for you to remember this magic phrase for fighting kids!
Here’s a peek at it…
- Download the ‘Magic Phrase’ worksheet. You’ll get the printable, plus join 15,000+ parents who receive my weekly insights, tips, and strategies on how to raise emotionally healthy kids who will live their BEST life, every week!
- Place it on your refrigerator or in a centralized area (Reuse with dry-erase markers by placing in a plastic sheet protector pouch, or laminating:)
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