My kids, 11 and 13, are practically twins developmentally. It leads to a lot of power struggles and conflict. This is actually healthy. In a “safe” environment, conflict can help kids develop stronger problem solving and relationship skills.
I need to be honest. Sometimes (often) I can’t stand to listen to them fight over who gets to play what, and when. It stresses me out to hear them arguing. But for the most part, I bite my tongue. I want to let them figure it out themselves.
When they get stuck and really do need some help, I pop in. I don’t offer solutions, but instead make some observation or ask a pertinent question:
- Sounds like you need to figure out how to reach agreement.
- Is it realistic to think that you will actually change each other’s minds on this? Can you find a fair way to make a decision if you can’t?
- Why don’t you both go cool off for a few minutes and then see if you can come back and figure things out.
This way I keep the responsibility on them. I can encourage and support them in managing their own challenges, and not have to always be referee. Besides that, by taking some small action, I can usually quiet the voice in my own head that keeps saying, “just make them stop arguing, please!”