Dr. Silly ®


My kids always fight whenever we play anything as a family. How can I stop the squabbles??


A: There are fights that are age appropriate- the expected rivalry between kids that is biologically based: the biggest and the strongest survive! Iím glad we are past that evolutionally hurdle but children naturally fight; the problem is safety and problem solving.

Some children can be really dangerous to their siblings and others; they get enraged. These children need to be helped to manage their emotions but first, the other kids must be protected from injury when these dangerous outbursts happen. Step into the breach: physically separate and deescalate. Do not chicken out; an ounce of prevention here can be worth several pounds of emergency room care.

B. Some children have a need to win that is so powerful that they violate the rights of others. Children with poor self-esteem, a history of family violence, an overall anxiety and apprehension, are often poor losers. Winning for them is like the need for oxygen; they live by it. These kids are a long-term parenting project; as their competence and skill level rise, however, their grasping for victory at all costs diminishes. Find the things they are good at, and help them do more of that. The pride that stems from such achievements spreads to family playtime. Losing becomes a fact not a fracture.

C. Some children find themselves suddenly in competition with strangers: the blended family! With the divorce rate getting close to a coin toss and with more children in State care, there is a corresponding increase in children living with unrelated competitors. Sometimes things work out well and sometimes they donít. In these situations, try to dodge; avoid as many conflicts as possible. Do more of less competitive activities.

D. Play material is not designed for sharing. Too often play manufacturers do not supply enough parts for sharing. They skimp to save one hundredth of a penny. When possible,
Have more than the minimal supplies needed.


1.Reduce conflicts by having enough play materials.

2. Have enough everybody-wins stuff.

3. Make sure that you are playing an everybody Ėcan-do activity

4. Deflect and deflate conflict with humor, patience and silence.

5. Relax. Try not to take the natural conflicts of kids playing too seriously.