How can you help young siblings to get along better?

How can you help young siblings to get along better? Credit: iStock

Q. How can I get my daughters, ages 2 and 4, to stop bickering so much?

A. First, assess when the fighting usually occurs. Is it while you are on the phone, or in another room? Sometimes squabbles are an attempt to get your attention, even if it's negative attention, says Slovie Jungreis-Wolff, author of "Raising a Child With Soul" (St. Martin's Press, $15.99). She addressed the question during a recent parenting talk at the Sid Jacobson JCC in East Hills.

Also, make sure you aren't inadvertently fostering rivalry, Jungreis-Wolff says. If you are pitting them against each other at all -- "First one who gets dressed gets to choose the dessert," for instance -- stop doing that. Make gaining rewards a joint effort -- "As soon as you're both dressed, you can have dessert" is better.

If you have to temporarily devote more energy to one child -- maybe you have to take one to multiple performances or doctors' appointments -- make sure the other child doesn't perceive being slighted. Spend some alone- time with that child as well. You also can try to explain that different children have different needs at different times, and encourage each to stop looking at what the other is getting.

Finally, try to give them opportunities to enjoy working as a team. Give them a project, such as decorating the kitchen to surprise Dad. Or baking a cake. "They learn how to work together," Jungreis-Wolff says. "That's how you foster love."

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