My sisters don’t stop fighting!

How can I stop my two younger sisters fighting and swearing at each other?

Our elder has some suggestions for family harmony.

Dear EWC

I am an older sibling to two younger children — one is ten years old and the other is six. I am in my early teens, and recently they just.. haven’t been getting along. I don’t know how to really say it. A while ago, say maybe a year or two ago, they were great together — they would laugh and play silly games and do dumb stuff as all people do. Now? I think they’re just clashing. I know they want to be friends again. My mom is always out of the house, and my dad doesn’t live here, and though my grandma is a dear and all, she doesn’t speak English and couldn’t really care less. I feel like this is my responsibility now. I mean, they don’t have to get along — I just want them to stop fighting every chance they get. They don’t act like sisters anymore. They act like they hate each other. I know it’s regular for siblings to fight, but calling one another “disgusting” and “a f***ing dumb sh*t” is a bit over the top. Am I just being paranoid again? I don’t want to have them permanently hating on each other. I tell them both off, and all I get back is that it’s not my business or something like that. My mom doesn’t care, she says it’s fine, but she doesn’t see these things. So, am I the dummy dumb dumb, or my sisters?

BES replies
It sounds like you have a lot of responsibility caring for your younger siblings! It’s certainly not an easy task.
While it is ‘normal’ for siblings to fight, the fact that they are using really bad language and that they want to change is a great reason to move forward.
Here is a suggestion: Bring them both together in a calm environment in which you tell them that you are all going to collaborate on finding a solution to this issue. Get paper and a pencil and have each one state the reason why they think they are having these fights. Write it down for them. Then tell them to think about how it makes them each feel to both insult and receive insults from the other. Write that down. Then ask them to brainstorm and make suggestions on their own as to how to resolve it.
I can also give you another suggestion: Give them a ‘code word’ that they or you can say which immediately means, “Stop everything and don’t say another word!” It could be “Rumplestilskin” or “Goldilocks” or anything you can think of. When that word is said by anyone, it means that person is really being bothered by something the other is doing. Then instead of saying, “You are a f***ing dumb sh*t,” the person being bothered has to say, “When you are doing …, it makes me feel…” It might go something like this, “When you make squealing noises, it makes me feel like I am listening to too much noise.” “When you say you are the cutest thing on earth, it makes me angry because it means you are bragging and I don’t like bragging.” “When you barge into my room, it makes me upset because I feel like I have no privacy.”
This may be really difficult for the six-year-old to do but it is worth a try. Young children are often unable to express their feelings and emotions and act out instead but if you were to have them just make a list of ‘feeling’ words, it could help. You can again have them brainstorm to come up with words such as “angry, hurt, confused, hysterical, sad, happy, jealous, etc.” Post these words somewhere that they can see them as a teacher in a classroom. If you hear them fighting, you can gently remind them to take a look at the word list and say, “Use your ‘I feel’ words.”
Again, it is normal for sibs to fight but if you think it is getting out of hand, you can try these suggestions. Please allow for ‘some’ fighting and don’t overreact. You don’t want to be the only authoritarian figure doling out discipline!
Good luck and please let me know if you think this helped or not.

Letter #: 444481
Category: Children

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