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How to Stop Constant Bickering Between Brothers


​ I am wondering how to stop the constant bickering between an 11-year-old and his 12-1/2-year-old brother. It's getting ridiculous, the things they bicker about.



The best way to address this is to let your boys know that this behavior is not okay, and every time you hear it begin, stop them and give them a chore to do together. While working on the chore, monitor them to make sure the bickering doesn't continue. If it does, give them additional chores, which must be done prior to using any privileges, regardless of your children's previous plans.

To make this more workable, we suggest that you create a chore jar. Write down chores on small pieces of paper, fold them, and place them in a jar. When the bickering begins, instruct them to stop, and ask one of them to pull a chore out of the jar and bring it to you. That way, you can assign specific division of the chore. Let your boys know that when they complete the chore, and have it checked by you or their father.

If they bicker about which TV show to watch, video game to play, or anything like that, shut off the TV or the video game system, or take away whatever they are bickering about.

When the chore is completed and meets your expectations, focus on teaching your children a better way to handle their disagreement so this doesn't happen again. Have them each identify another option they could have chosen that would have a different result. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each option. Role-play or practice using whichever option has the most advantages by "rewinding" what originally happened and then using the new option to see a different outcome.

Do this every time the bickering occurs. You'll definitely see a decline in the behavior, but you have to be consistent with your expectations and your consequences. Always remember to teach and practice what they should do next time.

This will take some time, but it will be time well spent. Stay calm and use this technique anytime your children misbehave for new opportunities to teach your boys how to be more successful—not only with one another, but also with others they disagree with.