SIBLING RIVALRY driving you nuts? How do parents handle fighting and arguing?

CONCERN: My two boys, ages seven and 9, are constantly fighting and being mean to each other. I am concerned about how heated and how quickly the situation escalates.

PARENT RESPONSE: I have two girls who used to argue and get into physical fights and we would have to get between them to stop the fighting. They were 9 and 12 at the time. The oldest one was going through a difficult time with adjusting to the transition into middle school. She was one of those girls who are deemed "Miss Personality" and admired by all. However, when she started in the new school, there were kids from five other elementary schools who also had their own popular girls, etc. It was such an overwhelming experience that after spending seven hours in a new school, feeling inadequate scared and bullied, she began to take out her frustrations on her little sister. It got to a point where the older daughter was not only verbally abusing the younger, but also physically. I did not feel comfortable leaving them together for any length of time. Finally, I called the mom of my oldest daughter's best friend and she talked with her daughter about the situation. Her best friend said that my daughter was also being rude and mean to her and was not her normal happy-go-lucky self. She also told her mom similar things regarding the size, loudness, the bullying from older kids, etc., at the new school, but that for some reason, most of it was aimed at the prettier girls. Since things only got worse, it worked best in our situation to remove her from the school due to such a vast amount of kids, conflicting personalities, and especially the verbal abuse from total strangers. We did go to a professional counselor and currently, everyone is doing quite well. - R. H. in GE

FROM JODIE: If possible, maybe you can kind of linger around the area where these fights happen the most and listen for keywords that might help you to understand what is really going on. There may be outside events or situations that are directly affecting one or perhaps both of the boys. For example, if you have recently moved had a family member or pet to die, or to become gravely ill, change in school, friends or even be experiencing a stressful situation like arguing between other people in the home, etc., these all could lead to one or both of your son's behavior. By trying to supervise the boys as closely as possible and becoming more aware of what is happening before they start, this might provide a window of opportunity in gathering important clues. You will soon discover the reason, or at the very least, know where to go from here. If the fights are escalating into a physical confrontation rather quickly, you might need to just keep them separated for a few days and be sure that an adult supervises their playtime when they do play.


My 15-year-old daughter's volleyball coach sent home a note saying that beginning in two weeks, there would be one additional day of after school practices and that all would be extended to 8:00 p.m. It also said that if there were anyone who could not adhere to the new schedule, they would not be allowed to stay on the team. I signed my daughter up for other activities based on the original time that the practices ended, and now, there is a big conflict. While I do not want to make waves or outright disagree with the coach, I am at a lost as to what to do. Is there a good way to approach her coach or how should this situation be handled?

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