I Knew This Was Coming- Thunderdome

I’ve always bragged about how well my kids play together.

I honestly thought I had hit the parenting jackpot with these two. Constantly hugging, sharing toys, thoughtfully saving half of their cupcake from a schoolmate’s birthday to give to the other after class. (no really, I swear this has happened on more than one occasion)

#jplopen rover mania

As the mother of two small children, I took great pride in how fierce they protected each other on the playground and helped each other through daily life.

Then I woke up one morning and Thunderdome erupted in my living room.

Somewhere in between waffles and Spongebob there were shouts. Shoves. Even an “I hate you.” Someone took someone else’s toy. Someone moved the other’s stuffed animal. Someone was sitting in ‘the wrong’ spot on the couch. I believe someone also was breathing too loud.

I found myself yelling things like “wait until your father gets home” and “I don’t CARE what your brother/sister did, you’re BOTH in trouble.” I was separating toys in bins, where before there had been nameless baskets, and I was triple checking to make sure each scoop of ice cream was EXACTLY the same size.

As a sibling myself, I knew this was bound to happen. However I’d like to rewind back just a few weeks or months to the hugging days. In fact, I’d like to KNOCK that feeling of love and adoration back into both of them.

No, really.

How do you deal with sibling issues at your house? Does ANYTHING work or are they destined to be mortal enemies in the Thunderdome of my living room for life?


  1. Since my daughter and my son are thirteen months and a day apart we have Thunderdome issues quite a bit.

    What I have found works the best for my kids (who are freakishly tight and really the best of friends when they aren’t stomping on one another’s last nerve) was hug therapy.

    I make them hug it out.

    They have to stand there and hug each other and no one is allowed to talk until they can say “I love you” (and MEAN it) in a nice voice.

    It generally degenerates into tickle wars and giggling and lots of love yous. And the Thunderdome is closed until the next round.

    It sounds silly, but I swear to you it works.

  2. I’m so lost and confused in all the sibling warring. I was an only child so I have absolutely no preparation for the constant bickering and fighting. Unless sneaking into the wine bottle counts.

  3. Tanis isn’t kidding, just so you know. She really does that and it really works.

    I’m a “let them sort it out” kind of mom. Which is awesome, only because god can a kid hold a grudge for a long time, but sometimes 6 months and one baseball bat later, they always even the score. 🙂

  4. My sister and I were mortal enemies growing up – every single thing seemed to irritate us about each other. It has gotten better as we have gotten older. I would recommend continuing opportunities for them to play or do things together as much as possible and creating clear structure for it. Structure helps relieve some of the issues that can arise. Good luck!

  5. I have a lot of catch phrases and tools which work wonders:

    “Oh my. You forgot how whacking your sister in the head is not showing love. That’s okay. I’ll give you a chance to practice being loving by picking up all the toys and giving her a break.”

    “Holy cow. That poor toy must be very popular if you’re fighting over it like that. I think I’ll just keep it for myself.”

    “What an interesting word to call your brother. I bet you could come up with some kind words, however. Why don’t you sit here until you can tell me five things you love about him.” (at which point you have a good 4 1/2 hours of waiting)

    And, of course, in all things, there is usually a good dose of, “Yeah, I know. Sucks for you.”

  6. My 4yo has never gotten used to the idea of his younger brother. There are glimmers of hope where they kind of interact with each other, but for the most part it’s entirely adversarial. I always thought that having two boys meant they’d automatically be best friends. I was wrong. Gah!

  7. I do something similar to Redneck Mommy – I make my boys (26 months apart in age) give each other a hug and a kiss if they start to hit – and if it gets really ugly I put both of them in their room (they share a room) and make them stay in there until they get along again.

    I also take away any toys under disagreement… etc… I figure it’s better for them to be annoyed with me than with each other.


  8. There’s nothing you can do to prevent the fighting, at least nothing I’ve found. Still, I’ve found ways to remind my kids that they do love each other, even though it’s frequently overshadowed by the fighting. When the lights go out and my son gathers flashlights and lanterns and holds on to his sister so she won’t be frightened, or when he’s sick and she gets him a snack or a blanket, I remark on how they take care of each other. I hope they’ll remember it. I think they will.

  9. my mom used to tell my little sister and i that “the first one to cry, gets IT.” where “it” = spanked. we didn’t think this was fair. but it kept the crying to a minimum. which i think was her plan.

    oh, look. redneck mommy and mr lady suggest LOVE.

    this might also work.

  10. My husband thinks we are the only ones whose kids fight constantly (boys – ages 10 and 8) – but I tell him repeatedly that everyone’s kids do! I am looking forward to their twenties, when they will happily speak to each other in a civilized tone again!

  11. I am one of five. And the fighting will continue, but there will also still be the hugs and love. I often tell people that my sister is my best friend and my worst enemy. No one knows me so well, and no one knows quite so well how to piss me off. We started getting along really well again (consistently) in college. Seriously. College.

  12. My sis and I are 13 months apart and we were either best friends or mortal enemies – never a middle ground. They’ll swing back in the other direction but it might not be soon. Sorry mama.

  13. I believe your kids are having the same problem everyone that ever uttered Spears’ name is having….it’s called BreatheHeavy.com. Every time the site gets reactivated wars erupt in people’s living room. I’ve boycotted it personally myself. Good luck with the ‘living room wars.’

  14. My mother did something similar to Redneck Mommy and Shira. She’d say “I don’t want to HEAR it.” Then she’d put the two fighters (usually me and the brother 18 months younger than I) in a room and close the door. We were not allowed to come out until we could come out with our arms around each other, smiling.

    Of course, we’d always try a couple of times to pretend, arms on one another’s shoulders, pinching the ever living shit out of each other, grimacing with big fake smiles. Mom would raise one eyebrow and give us That Look…and back we’d go into the room. If we refused or threw ourselvees on the floor or whatever, we would entirely cease to exist for her until we got off the floor and went back into the room.

    EVERY TIME, I was convinced I would never, ever, ever be able to put my arms around that horrible troll….and EVERY TIME we were buddies again within 20 minutes. I think it helped that instead of hating each other, Mom became our common enemy for that short time…

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