Learn from kids how to settle rows, strengthen ties

When children fight with their siblings, they learn important lessons such as how to settle, negotiate and compromise


Ians June 29, 2015
When children fight with their siblings, they learn important lessons such as how to settle, negotiate and compromise. PHOTO: PARENTDISH.CA

Parents must look at how their kids negotiate and resolve fights so that they do the same to cement the relationship even stronger, says new study.

According to a study led by an Indian-origin researcher, several parents, especially mothers, use how their kids are getting along as a barometer for how well they are doing as a parent.

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"When children fight with their siblings, they learn important lessons such as how to settle, negotiate and compromise. They begin to see conflict as a problem they can solve," said lead study author Niyantri Ravindran from University of Illinois.

"This is true even though virtually all siblings have some conflict," said co-author Laurie Kramer, professor of applied family studies.

The study compared parents of siblings with a control group composed of parents of non-participants. Parents reported that the intense negative emotions they experience when their children fight were reduced as their children learned to get along better.

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"Fathers tend to get more involved with their kids when they are playing whereas mothers tend to coach their children more," Kramer said.

Mothers appear to have incorporated the skills their children were taught into the way they manage their own emotions. In contrast, fathers who noticed more warmth between their children following the program were better able to manage their negative emotions when their children did squabble.

The study appeared in the Journal of Family Psychology.

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