How to Prevent Siblings from Fighting

Parenting siblings can be a tricky endeavor, and nannying them can be even more difficult. You are likely walking into a dynamic that has long been established, so tweaking behaviors and fostering friendships between siblings to encourage harmony might take a little more effort.

In Dr. Bill Sears’ 20 Tips to Stop Quibbling Siblings and Promote Sibling Harmony, the world renowned pediatrician, author of over 30 childcare books and father of eight (two of whom grew up to join a medical practice together!), shares his survival skills for creating a peaceful home.

We share how some of those tips can translate into great advice for nannies and caretakers:

(Don’t) Let Them Fight it Out

The old school of thought was to let kids duke it out, believing they’d eventually get over whatever problems they had without interference. It was thought that somehow floundering through conflicts and coming out on the other side, no matter how bad it escalated, was an important life lesson. Limitless fighting can have negative long-term effects, though – and drive you insane in the short-term!

“If children are in danger of hurting someone or damaging property, stop the fight. Siblings who are allowed to fight as kids are more likely to fight as adults. For small tiffs, such as toy squabbles, teach children to handle it themselves. Simply state the consequences and what you expect, ‘I’ll be back in one minute. If you kids haven’t learned how to share the toy or work it out, the toy goes in the garage,’” offers Dr. Sears. “You can either time-out the toy or time-out the kids. You’re giving them two messages: you expect them to be able to work it out themselves, but you’re giving them the unequivocal consequences that if they don’t, you will.”

The New Kid on the Block

Toddlers and preschoolers will likely see you as their favorite toy, and serious jealousy and ill feelings can form when they sense you are (by necessity) investing more time in their new little brother or sister.

“We would wear our infant in a baby sling, which gave us two free hands to play a game with the older one,” says Dr. Sears. “While feeding baby, we would read a book to the sibling, or just have cuddle time. As baby gets older, place him in an infant seat or on a blanket on the floor to watch you play one-on-one with her big brother or sister. This entertains two kids with one [nanny].”

Sibling Squabbling vs. Sibling Abuse

A certain amount of low level bickering is bound to pop up now and then. Disagreements over toys, who took the last fruit leather and whose turn it is to help clear the table are pretty inevitable and working them out together is a natural part of growing up. But when these squabbles turn mean-spirited, escalate to the physical, or tend to be one-sided in a consistent manner – a more worrisome bullying pattern might be forming.

It could be one child who is older, who uses that power and experience to undercut a younger sibling emotionally or uses their physical inequality to force them to concede. It could just be a matter of one child (regardless of age) having a stronger personality, who tends to stampede over the more passive brother or sister. Regardless, when you recognize the beginnings of sibling abuse, it must be nipped in the bud – both to spare the self esteem and confidence of the weaker child and also your relationship and position of authority with both of the children. Bad habits are hard to break.

“Be watchful for aggressor/victim roles,” says Dr. Sears. “Your job is to protect [the] children, even from one another. How siblings behave toward one another is their first social lesson in how to behave in a group. Children need you to monitor put-downs. If you don’t, you’re not doing your job. By remaining silent, the victim concludes you’re siding with the victimizer.”

Make New Friends

Fostering friendships between siblings to cut back on the battles means creating a sense of empathy and compassion. This can be difficult when you enter the picture to two “sworn enemies”. Let them take on roles as teacher, comforter, entertainer or assistant to the doctor (you) in times of bumps and scrapes to help them see their sibling in a new light. Assign them small tasks to do cooperatively, and offer a joint reward at the end.

Know Your Limits

As a nanny coming into a home, you might be walking into a situation where the kids were allowed to beat on each other, call each other names, throw toys at each other and scream or slam doors during fights. While you can’t change the rules of the house, you don’t have to tolerate that type of behavior when they’re under your watch either.

Children understand there are different modes they must abide by in life and different rules and regulations that must be followed or there are consequences to be faced. They don’t run around the classroom yelling, interrupt the teacher when she’s teaching or steal treats from kids at the lunch table when they’re not looking (hopefully), and they can be taught that they must abide by your rules when in your presence – and that those rules might be different than what their parents allow. You are the person in authority and clearly laying out your limits or expectations and being consistent with the consequences will reap a speedy turnaround. Be prepared, though; this could take a little education in a formerly-free-for-all household.

“Offer calm verbal reminders, such as ‘That’s a put-down,’ as one sibling belittles the other. Or, issue a look that says ‘don’t even think about it!’ [when boundary lines are being threatened],” suggests Dr. Sears. “Head off fights at the first squabble, before they get out of hand. In our family, we have set certain ‘maximum allowable limits’, which are behaviors that we insist upon to like living with our children, and the children are taught to respect these.”

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50 Exciting Activities for Summer Fun

It’s almost here! “It’s summertime and the living is easy.” Sam Cooke sang it and we lived it—long lazy summer days filled with simple pleasures and homemade fun. Turn off the television, put away the video games and share these old-fashioned traditions with your Nanny or Babysitter. With 50 activities, games, pastimes and ideas, there’s bound to be something on our list that will inspire a trip down memory lane. Take your children along and help them build some wonderful memories of their own.
1. Run through a sprinkler💦.
2. Have a bubble gum blowing contest, then take turns reading the Bazooka comics aloud.
3. Play some Beach Boys music🎶🎶.
4. Organize the neighborhood into teams for a game of stickball🏒🏐. Okay, you can use a regular ball and bat, but pick-up games were a daily event in summers gone by. Stickball, kickball or volleyball—the point is simply to have a ball.
5. Still popular with today’s kids, hula hoops are good fun and great exercise. See who can hula hoop the longest. Skip through a hula hoop like you’re jumping rope. Set up an obstacle course. Create stations with different tasks such as hula for 10 spins, spin two hoops on your arms, jump through a hoop held by another person.
6. Make a dream catcher.
7. Spend a day at the park for a picnic and play, be sure to bring a large umbrella for shade for sit under a big tree🌳🌳!
8. Game time! Remember Duck Duck Goose and Red Rover? Send summer fun right over!
9. Toss a Frisbee around.
10. Have fun with games on paper: Tic-tac-toe, Hangman, Dots and Boxes.
11. Build a tree house or fort.
12. Play a round of Marco Polo or water volleyball in the pool.
13. Make arts and crafts projects with Popsicle sticks.
14. Have a thumb wrestling match.
15. Organize a backyard carnival🎪🎟 to raise money for a charity. Play games like coin toss, balloon stomp, pin the nose on the clown, or guess how many jelly beans in a jar. Kick off your event with a neighborhood parade with bikes, wagons, scooters and strollers.
16. Start a collection—shells🐚, trading cards, rocks, postcards.
17. Grill hot dogs for dinner, then make s’mores over the warm coals.
18. Go roller skating, indoors or outdoors.

19. Go bowling.
20. Play hopscotch.
21. Learn to Juggle.
22. Chill out with icy treats. Make homemade ice pops by freezing juice or flavored drinks in a plastic freezer mold.
23. Pull out the jump rope, and give it a spin.
24. Before television had 999 channels, kids whiled away summer hours with just a deck of cards. Play a couple hands of Crazy Eights, Go Fish, Concentration, UNO, Slapjack or Spoons.
25. Water balloons!
26. For lunch, have the children dress as chefs and play a good game of restaurant!
27. See how fast you can win at jacks.
28. Set up a lemonade stand.
29. Nothing says summer like a leisurely bike ride.
30. Lost your marbles? Find them at any toy store, and see if you still have the knack.
31. Walk the dog … around the world! Get instructions for these and other easy yo-yo tricks at
32. Play with bubbles! Make your own bubbles with Bubble Science that will produce gigantic bubbles.
33. Have a watermelon 🍉seed spitting contest.
34. Summer sing-alongs. Remember belting out this camp favorite? “Great green gobs of greasy, grimy gopher guts. Mutilated monkey meat. Little birdies’ dirty feet.”
35. Strike up a kazoo band.
36. Make and outfit your own paper dolls.
37. Build a castle in the sun⛱. On your next trip to the beach, pack buckets, cups, spoons, spatulas or other kitchen utensils to transform sand into a castle, a rocket ship, a car or other sculpture.
38. Play a game of horseshoes, croquet or bocce ball.
39. You’re it! There are as many versions of tag as there are families in Savannah. Visit Wikipedia for a list of more than 50 different games.
40. Make suntan tattoos. Cut a small shape, such as a heart, star or butterfly, out of sticky paper (such as an office label) and affix it to your skin. After a few hours in the sun (even with sunscreen), the skin under the sticker will be a lighter shade than the skin that was exposed.
41. Camp out in your backyard.
42. Sway in a hammock.
43. Watch a sunset.
44. Take a Heads or Tails road trip. Every time you get to an inter-section, flip a coin to see if you’re going right (heads) or left (tails).
45. Go fishing🎣.
46. Play Leap Frog. Visit for jump rope rhymes.
47. Play charades.
48. Spend a rainy summer afternoon playing board games or putting together a jigsaw puzzle.
49. Have a tea party.
50. Try to set a world record.🏆 Visit the Guinness World Records website to see what sounds fun.

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