Why do siblings quarrel

Quarrel between siblings - what to do?

Mobil-e: Dr. Graf, what can be the cause of arguments among siblings?

Dr. Johanna Graf: The reasons for sibling disputes vary with the age of the children. Conflicts of ownership (for example, “This is my doll!” - “No, I had it first!”) Are number one. The occasions are only the tip of the iceberg. Below are the important topics, namely questions of assertiveness, autonomy and appreciation. So: who can decide? Can I assert myself? Who do mom and dad love more?

Mobil-e: Apart from the fact that sibling quarrel is exhausting for everyone involved - are there also long-term consequences?

Dr. Johanna Graf: If the same struggles take place over and over again and the interaction patterns repeat themselves - for example, if one child is usually superior to the other - then an inner model develops that contains answers to questions such as: Who am I? Am i lovable What do relationships look like? These are also formative for further development. Depending on how constructively or destructively the conflicts are carried out, they can be more or less detrimental. The inferior child can then internalize, for example: “I will only be accepted if I always give in and subordinate my needs.” Such “glasses” largely determine what I expect and how I behave. Constant quarreling among siblings is on the one hand "normal" and offers the opportunity to learn a lot about how to deal with different desires and needs, but on the other hand it can also have lasting damage to self-esteem. This then has long-term consequences for later relationships with friends, colleagues and lovers.

Mobil-e: How should parents react to constant arguments among siblings?

Dr. Johanna Graf: Definitely not by leaving the children to their own devices or intervening and deciding who is right as an “arbiter”. Rather, children need the support of adults into adolescence when it comes to learning to behave competently in situations full of emotions and conflicts. Being able to resolve conflicts independently is an important educational goal. Parents should instill an attitude that all feelings are allowed, but not all behavior. And they should show the children that they both care about them and that they can both be understood. It is very important not to downplay negative feelings, but to put them into words, for example: "You had put so much effort into building the tower - I would be angry if ..." That contributes significantly to calming down .

Mobil-e: Do you have any specific tips on how parents should react to sibling disputes?

Dr. Johanna Graf: Parents can use the following steps as "conflict coaches":

Step 1
Name and accept the feelings of both

step 2
Work out what everyone wanted and acknowledge that it is a difficult situation

step 3
Work out with both of them how they can behave in similar situations in the future

Step 4
Invitation to solve the problem (for example "How do you want to ...?")
The parents are mainly needed in the regulation of emotions (steps 1 and 2), i.e. in accepting the feelings and working out the needs until the waves have smoothed out.