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Sibling Bickering in Summer

Summer has come, the schedule shifts, the weather is warm and we dream of peaceful days outside in the sun. Any parent knows that these dreams are hard to come by. My quiet mornings have been filled with my kids arguing over the remote, chairs at breakfast, lego
pieces, balls-pretty much any inanimate object in the room. I know you feel my pain. How can we make sure the sounds of summer are more than siblings bickering over anything and everything?

Somebody’s feeling cranky

We may not realize how much children thrive in routine. However, change, even summer schedule
change, can be hard for them to process. Also, there are a lot of emotions of the end of the year: saying
goodbye to their teacher who has been with them all school year, their friends they have gotten
close with, and the comfort of their school can be difficult.

They come home from the business and the mental challenge of school, and while they enjoy the
downtime, they become bored or irritable. They may feel tired and exhausted at having to meet
new kids at camp, or transition to a new routine at home, with less stimulation and siblings and
parents constantly around them. Combine all of these factors and you have prime conditions for sibling bickering.

I saw it often, but kids need visual cues and expectations to break down what they must
handle. It is incredibly helpful to set up a calendar of scheduled camps, appointments, and
vacations, so they know what to expect.

Try to make some form of daily routine, even with downtime. Lazy mornings can be great, but
after an hour of screens or downtime, your kids are going to start to get edgy and need a change
of scenery.

Schedule in quiet time

Kids need to learn to be bored and how to occupy themselves. We have blogged about
downtime and open-ended play-but for some kids, especially those used to being constantly
stimulated by a screen and technology, this may seem unattainable.
Summer is a great time to teach these essential life skills. We don’t want our kids constantly
running around, over-scheduled, and tech-driven. It is essential to aim for balance and
help them occupy their time without screens. What may seem like a fast
solution for them bothering us or others has a rebound effect, as most kids are grouchier and more irritable
after time on a device.

Work in time when your kids get a break from you or their sibling. It is unrealistic that they can
be with the same people day in and day out and not argue. Make sure that you set separate
spaces and boundaries so they can have a place in the house to go when they need to
calm down or take a break. It is normal for anyone to need time away from others. As adults, we
like to have alone time to regroup, so don’t push your kids to spend time together when their
behavior is showing us they need a break. If your kids are arguing or bickering, that is a signal they need your help showing them how to step away.

When kids come home from camp, they are most likely exhausted. Make sure you have some
downtime scheduled into their day to avoid bickering. As blood sugars crash and fatigue sets in,
your children will more likely be irritable and need some downtime.

At the end of the day

Finally, don’t stress the increased behaviors; it is to be expected. Unfortunately, when we parent from a
fatigued irritable state, we end up modeling the behavior we are trying to discourage. This energy trickles down and can
create irritability in our children. Make sure to take some time for yourself so you can manage the summer normal and stay balanced.