Sibling rivalry. It’s something that’s been a little bit romanticized over the years. Siblings competing to see who is the best sounds good on paper, but when they’re always fighting, trying to blame each other for breaking something, and don’t appear to like each other at all, it can be troublesome.
Some parents may punish siblings who are fighting, grounding them both. While this is a good way to deter fighting, being able to turn that fighting and toxic competition into something that is much better for both parties is what you want to do. There are plenty of activities that allow the siblings to do just that. These activities encourage playtime and less fighting. Let’s take a look at them.
Foam Swords, Lightsabers, Etc.
If your siblings are always fighting, why not make that fight into something friendlier or safer? Giving them foam swords or toy lightsabers can encourage a friendly duel, without anyone getting hurt. Not only are these toys competitive, but they can teach children how to be quick and nimble, avoiding attacks and learning how to counter. Just make sure to supervise and not let things get too rough.
The Floor Is Lava
We all know of the lava game. You pretend that the floor is lava, and whoever touches it loses. This is another competitive game that involves siblings jumping from couches, using pillows as a way to cross, and trying to make the other touch the floor. Again, this is a supervised game.
This is a fun, classic, competitive game. People compete to see who is the most flexible, and it can lead to some funny interactions and eventually everyone falls.
A funny idea is to get one giant t-shirt and put the kids in it. Then, they can walk around, preferably in an area with little risk should they fall. This is a fun thing to do in the backyard and encourages teamwork and interaction.
A Co-Op Game
Video games can make for a good way for siblings to bond. A fighting game, for example, can help the siblings duke it out without having to do it in real life. However, you may prefer a game where the siblings work together in order to accomplish a goal. Look up some good, age-appropriate co-op games that allow the siblings to work together.
The Balloon Popping Game
If the siblings aren’t that sensitive to loud noises, this may be a fun game to play. Balloon popping involves tying a balloon with a string to one of the player’s legs. The other player has to stomp on the balloon and pop it. It’s a game that requires plenty of strategy.
If there is a laser tag place near you, it can be a fun game. Siblings have to run through a course, sneaking up on each other and “shooting” the target they have with their laser gun. It teaches strategy, and knowing the difference between when you should rush out and when you should lie low.
This is not a game so much as it is a funny way to resolve conflict. If the siblings are fighting, ask them to hold hands for a few seconds. They may stop fighting because of that. When you don’t want to take a side and just want to stop them from fighting, it’s a good way to do so.
Getting the siblings into sports may be a good idea. They don’t need to be in the same team or even play the same sport, but them playing sports may distract them from fighting each other so much.
These inflatable giant boxing gloves are good for siblings who want to fight, but don’t want to be violent. They’re said to be “more fun than a pillow fight,” and watching your kids compete with them may prove that point.
The Potato Race
Racing can be a fun way to deter sibling rivalry, but it’s so boring. The potato race may be a good way to encourage creative competition. What you do is have two bowls at the end of the race. Then, the players must keep a potato between the knees. They need to run as fast as they can, not using their hands, without dropping the potato, until it’s time to drop it in the bowl.
Give them some chalk and encourage them to draw on the sidewalk. They can work together to make one piece of art. Or perhaps they both have different visions and you can see the clashing artstyles first hand and reward them for their creativity.
A Scavenger Hunt
A scavenger hunt can be a creative way for your children to work together and figure out where to find the object they’re looking for is. Put some clues around, let your children find those clues, and then they can be off.
Encouraging Healthy Competition
Sometimes, the best way to stop fighting is to turn it into competition. For example, you may encourage both parties to build something from blocks, or to see who finishes their schoolwork first. Reward the person who wins, but don’t be too harsh on the sibling who does not. Being competitive in a way that is not so toxic may help fighting siblings in the long run.
With that said, you may want to teach the siblings how to resolve conflict. If they’re still having a hard time resolving conflict, perhaps it’s time for them to learn how to resolve conflicts. They will have to resolve conflicts as they get older, whether it’s with friends, spouses, or bosses. It’s important to teach the value of conflict resolution now.
A family counselor may be able to help, giving them ways to resolve the conflict without ending up fighting each other. You can turn the conflict resolution into a game, where if they resolve the conflict quickly, they will get a reward.