10 Feb
Kids, Just Shut Up Already!

Dear Mouthy Housewives,

My two kids either love each other or hate each other. Sometimes they have the biggest fights. I want them to work it out themselves but I don’t want them to be cruel to each other. What is the best way to handle sibling squabbles?


Meddlesome Mama


Dear Meddlesome Mama,

I have two boys close in age, so I know exactly what you’re saying. Whose turn is it on the Wii, whose turn is it to take out the trash, whose turn is it to call the other an ugly buttface. There are times it almost makes the riots in Egypt look tame. But unlike Mubarak, you and I can’t resign from this job come September.

The fact that you are asking this question tells me you misunderstand the miracle of duct tape. It’s the best way to handle most anything, really. When kids fight over the Wii, duct tape the controllers to the ceiling. If no one wants to take out the trash, well, just duct tape their leftovers onto their shirt then the trash won’t get full. (On a side note, duct tape also attaches a truck muffler back onto the vehicle. At least it does in the South.)

However I don’t recommend going so far as putting duct tape over a kid’s mouth. Having waxed a few of stray female lip hairs in my day (okay, maybe more than a few), that crap hurts. So when sibling squabbles escalate to ugly name-calling and general mudslinging that interferes with your Thursday night TV viewing, it’s time to tell them to shut up already. It’s a lofty ideal to want kids to work out their differences, but we dictators, uh, I mean parents have to draw lines and interrupting 30 Rock is one of them.


Heather, TMH

10 Responses to “Kids, Just Shut Up Already!”


Comment by April.

I agree with Heather. I want to add my take on having 2 close in age (12 &10). I do not involve myself in kid fights. Period. I don’t care who did what to who. Kids lie. Trying to figure out a kid fude is like trying to unwind a slinky. I have always punted them back to their rooms or told them to seperate. I never involve myself in details. However, one time they were being total nightmares I told them they were not allowed to speak. Ever. Oh my. They came unglued. 2 hours in to the enforced silence they were begging to play with each other. I have to say since then they have started seperating themselves. Good Luck!

Albug Reply:

Exactly what I did. However, I told them they didn’t have a brother for a day. I divided the house and wouldn’t let them speak or see each other. We lived in the country with no other playmates around. They were about 10 and 9 at the time. I have to say it worked. They still argued but never again got to the point that I had to separate them. They are in their late 30’s now and agree it was a valuable lesson in getting along with each other and how important their brother relationship is. Of course, I am known as the “mean Mom” oh well.


Comment by hokgardner.

I call my two oldest girls “The Bicker Twins,” because that’s what they do all.the.time. If I got involved every time they had a disagreement, I’d never get anything done. So I leave them to sort things out. And when they get mean, I make them separate for half an hour to calm down. But I still don’t take sides.

I’m not proud of it, but I’ve been known to put my fingers in my ears and sing, “lalalala I can’t hear you” when they try to tattle on each other.

The kicker is that when they aren’t bickering, they play together really, really well.


Comment by Bean.

After 10 snow days in the last 3 weeks, this is where my girls, who usually get along reasonably well, are also. Thanks!


Comment by Plano Mom.

We make them hug each other. Starting for 2 minutes. If they can’t make peace, lengthen the time and threaten to make them kiss each other. When the time is up, they will be unified in their suffering and will get along, at least for a little while.


Comment by Lynn MacDonald (All Fooked Up).

I once read about this method and tried it on my two girls who are 15 months apart. They sit cross legged on the floor facing each other with their foreheads touching until they resolve the situation. They usually got bored and dissolved in giggles and voila, situation fixed. Worked for us!


Comment by Kelly.

When I was growing up, the policy my mom adopted was to punish BOTH my brother and I equally if either of us tattled. Didn’t make us get along, but it did stop her from having to referee.


Comment by Karin.

I try not getting involved too but I found that they fight A LOT when there is tv involved so we just don’t watch tv during the week or any time they come to me to resolve an argument or raise their voices to each other, I just turn off the tv. If they complain, they go to their room. If they complain as a group, they can ALL go to their room!


Comment by StephanieG.

I am the eldest of three siblings, all two years apart. Do the math, moms. When I was six, my sister was four, and my brother was two. EGAD.

Anyway, when we would fight, my mom would put us on the couch and make us hold hands. More often than not, that did the trick.

In hindsight, I think this was a way for her to get through the arguing, and not so much teaching conflict resolution.

Now we are grown up with kids of our own, and my brother and sister are two of my favorite people in the world.


Comment by amy.

Now that they are older I let them duke it out. They are 13 year old twin girls. I figure you want to learn physical fights hurt? Go for it. In the other room though please, I can’t concentrate..

The fights have lessened as they both know each insists on having the last punch/kick/whatever.

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