How to Handle Siblings Who Are Always Fighting

I have an older sister. I get it. One minute we are best friends watching our favorite YouTubers together and the next we are at each other’s throats fighting. I’m not naïve to think that sibling fighting only happens in our house, so when I’m babysitting for siblings I can’t expect them to always get along perfectly.

Kids tend to have less patience with their siblings than they would with their friends and emotions can escalate quickly. As a Safe Sitter®, I know that no matter what happens I must always stay in control of myself and stay in control of the children I’m watching.

Sometimes I must take a deep breath and focus on keeping the kids safe and in control. To learn some effective tactics to try the next time you’re babysitting siblings who are always fighting, check out this video. And remember, you can always ask the parents for a few tips on what works well for them (and they’ll be impressed you asked!).

Babysitting for the Bickersons: How to handle siblings who are always fighting.

Siblings always get along. Wait? What? Anyone who’s ever had a sibling, been a sibling, or babysat for them knows that just isn’t true.

Of course, siblings fight. But while it’s one thing when you argue with your own siblings. It’s a whole other thing when you’re trying to keep the peace among kids you’re babysitting. You’re not paid to get along with your siblings, but you are paid to make sure other parents’ kids are as safe and happy as possible.

So, what do you do when the kids you’re babysitting just won’t stop fighting? First, try to prevent fights before they even start. Just because they’re siblings doesn’t mean they have to play together. Let them each do their own thing. And if little brother or sister is annoying their older sibling by trying to tag a long, distract the little ones by asking them to show you their favorite toy or offer to play their favorite game with them.

Sometimes siblings will fight over the same toy or game. Instead of telling them to share, tell them to take turns and then give them a schedule that gives equal time to each. Set a timer to remind you when it’s time for the other sibling’s turn and make sure you supervise the transition.

Nice job, buddy.

Even when siblings enjoy playing together, arguments can break out. When that happens try to settle the argument fairly. Be patient, control your temper, and firmly tell them how you have decided to resolve the argument. They may not like your decision, but you’re in charge. If the fight gets physical, separate the children immediately. They may each need to take a break in a separate area of the room in order to get themselves under control. Make sure you can supervise each of them during the time-out break, which should be no more than one minute per year of age and shouldn’t be used with children younger than two since it’s not really effective with toddlers who can’t understand or follow rules.

When break time is up, calmly ask each of them if they’re ready to start over. If they continue to argue or fight, you may have to tell them to play separately. Now, if they don’t listen to you and keep on fighting, well you may need to call their parents or a back-up adult like a neighbor for help. And that’s okay.

They keep on fighting. I don’t know what to do. I’ve tried giving them breaks. Uh, do you have any ideas? I need some help.

After all, kids who are out of control are a danger to themselves and others. There is no magic formula for making kids get along all the time. Fighting among siblings will happen and parents know this. Always talk with the parents at the end of the job and let them know how the siblings have gotten along. And be open to their suggestions about handling sibling squabbles in the future.

That’s all there is to it! So, next time you’re babysitting for the Bickersons, just remember, keep it under control and you’ve got this!

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Take a Safe Sitter® class and learn more child care skills. Find a class near you!