27/08/2009 14:18 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Ask Joanne: How Do I Stop Siblings Winding Each Other Up?

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Tracy asks:

Do you have any tips on how to stop a 7 year old winding up his 3-year-old sisters? The constant screaming is driving me to drink.

Here's life coach Joanne's reply:

Dear Tracy

Yes I do have the answer to how to stop siblings fighting. I keep it in a special file where I also hold the cure for the common cold, the wherabouts of Shergar and Lord Lucan, and the reason why Jeremy Clarkson is popular.

Though really, I sometimes think that fighting is the raison d'etre of most siblings. It doesn't mean they don't love each other deeply, or that they won't grow up to be firm friends, but right now, a certain amount of scraps should be seen as part of the flow of family life.

From that basis, look to how you can manage things. With a four year age gap, at this stage your children are unlikely to have many interests in common, but hopefully this will change as they get older. But if there's anything they do all like doing, encourage that. Recognise that, for now, they will need to be directed into different activities, or different versions of the same game. The days when they will all play nicely and quietly together are a few years off, I'm afraid. Though make it clear that there are ground rules to stick to - no physical fights, no name calling etc.

If you have recognised that they are prone to loud decibels, encourage them to play outside. Noise doesn't seem so bad in the park. Watch out for labelling your older child as the winder-upper, as he may feel victimised and do it even more.

One part of the puzzle you can change is your own attitude. Try to rise above the noise as much as you can, even if that means escaping to another part of the house, or even better, letting your partner take a turn at firefighting. Or send them out to play whilst you hide indoors.

Mine's a large one. Cheers!


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