Fight­ing the good fight


Sunday Herald Sun - Body and Soul - - PARENTING -

If your kids con­stantly fight with each other, don’t despair. All that emo­tional en­ergy isn’t go­ing to waste. Ac­cord­ing to a re­cent study, sib­ling fights teach chil­dren im­por­tant con­flic­tres­o­lu­tion skills. In fact, par­ents who stop their chil­dren ar­gu­ing may well be de­priv­ing them of im­por­tant learn­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Re­searcher Lau­rie Kramer, from the Uni­ver­sity of Illi­nois in the US, found that kids who learn how to ar­gue with their sib­lings had more ad­vanced emo­tional devel­op­ment.

Anec­do­tally, sib­ling fight­ing is one of the biggest im­ped­i­ments to par­ents en­joy­ing fam­ily life. Many par­ents say if their chil­dren stopped bick­er­ing, their lives would im­prove dra­mat­i­cally.

Many par­ents also worry that chil­dren who fight will not get along as adults. The ev­i­dence doesn’t sup­port this view. The test for strong fam­i­lies is more about the will­ing­ness for kids to pull to­gether when the chips are down rather than the fre­quency of the squab­bling.

Healthy fam­i­lies know how to fight well. When par­ents take an ac­tive ap­proach to help­ing their chil­dren re­solve their fights, they are teach­ing them a valu­able life skill as well as re­duc­ing the in­ci­dence of fight­ing over the long term. Here are some ideas: Kids wear L-plates when it comes to solv­ing dis­putes. Some kids yell, get abu­sive or even phys­i­cal when they are set­tling dis­putes. Show them bet­ter ways of sort­ing out prob­lems by talk­ing things through with your part­ner, com­pro­mis­ing and apol­o­gis­ing when you’ve up­set your part­ner or your chil­dren.

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