When Your Kids Fight Over Something They Both (All) Want

 

What This Situation Is Like for Parents

 

It’s as if your kids feel deprived of so much in their lives… Because when there is only one of something, they each act as if THEY must have it or the world will come to an end.

When one child is playing with toy and another child sees that toy, they immediately want it… even if they hadn’t looked at that toy for a month.

When you kids fight over who gets to decide which music to listen to… It’s as if not getting their way means they will not survive.

When they both (all) want the same thing, children are not reasonable, and they are unwilling to compromise.

That alone will drive you crazy, but that doesn’t even take into consideration all of the NOISE that they make when they fight over the smallest things…

 

What This Situation Is Like for Children

 

Though siblings can be great playmates, they are also a major obstacle because siblings often prevent each other from being able to do what they want to do.  

When one child is playing with something, they’re forced to “share” if their sibling wants to play too — even if the first child is not finished playing yet!

One child may want to sing and dance, but they have to be quiet because they have to think about their sibling’s feelings too. 

Often siblings really do have to get louder if they want their perspective to be considered.  They insist on getting their “share”… or being heard…just to prove that they matter too.

 

 

How It Usually Goes

When Kids Fight Over Something They Both (All) Want

 

Scenario: Karyn and Noel’s dad just got a new app on his phone. Two of his children, Karyn and Noel, ask at the same time see the phone. They each start yelling about why they should get to see it first.

Karyn: I want it!

Noel: No, I want it!

Karyn: You always get what you want, Noel!

Noel: No I don’t! You got to go to a birthday party yesterday and I didn’t.

Dad: Karyn! Noel! Enough!

Karyn: But Dad, I want to see your phone first.

Noel: That’s not fair!

Dad: All right. Let’s make this fair. You’ll each get a turn for 5 minutes.

Karyn: Fine. I go first!

Noel: No, ME!

Dad: If we can’t work this out, then no one gets the phone! (He yanks it away from both of them.) 

Karyn and Noel start fighting about whose fault it was that the phone got taken away

 

How It Can Go

When Kids Fight Over Something They Both (All) Want

 

Karyn: I want it!

Noel: No, I want it!

Dad: Wow, Karyn, you really want my phone to see the new app. Noel, you want it too!

Noel: YES! I want it!

Karyn: You always get what you want, Noel!

Noel: No I don’t! You got to go to a birthday party yesterday and I didn’t.

Dad (stays calm): OK, you two. This isn’t going anywhere. We’ll talk about you each seeing my phone once we can consider everyone’s feelings.

Karyn: Dad! That’s not fair.

Noel: This is so stupid.

Karyn and Noel (complain for a few minutes).

 

CALM

Karyn and Noel’s dad is frustrated when his kids are arguing over the phone. It seems silly to him, which only makes him more upset.

Even though he can’t seem to end the arguing, he knows that if he gets upset it will only makes things worse. He also knows that eventually the kids will burn out, so he waits calmly.

 

Dad (stays calm and says nothing the entire time the kids are complaining.  After a few minutes, once he notices that Karyn and Noel are less upset): OK. We have two kids and one phone. How can we solve this?

Karyn: I get it first.

Dad: That solution that might work for you, Karyn. And Noel’s feelings matter too. Can you think of a solution that considers his feelings too?

 

CONNECT

Karyn and Noel’s dad doesn’t take sides. He connects with each child and demonstrates that they each matter.

 

Karyn: No.

Dad: OK. We can wait a little while longer until we can come up with a solution that works for everyone. 

Noel: No! I’ll let Karyn have it first.

Dad: That’s nice, Noel. What will you do while you’re waiting?

Noel: I’ll work on a puzzle.

Karyn: Thanks, Noel. I won’t take too long with it.

 

CORRECT

Karyn and Noel’s dad corrects their behavior by restating the boundary and staying calm and firm as Karyn and Noel work through their Yuck.

He knows that with his help, they can come up with a solution once their Yuck is out… but NOT before then. 

 

 

 

How to Make In-the-Moment Parenting Work

 

Though Karyn and Noel’s dad used Calm, Connect, Correct in the moment, it is the “proactive deposits” discussed in the Parenting by Deposit Roadmap that make all of the difference in how this situation plays out in the moment.

If your children fight because they all want the same thing, consider:

 

Depositing into CALM

Karyn and Noel’s dad will not be able to stay calm if

a.) his own biological or emotional “needs accounts” are low (if he is not feeling well or if he feels depleted from dealing with his kids all day)

b.) he has the expectation that Karyn and Noel will automatically know how to resolve disputes

When he makes sure his own needs are met and sets realistic expectations PROACTIVELY, Karyn and Noel’s dad is more likely to be able to stay calm.

See Step 1 of the Parenting by Deposit Roadmap for help meeting your needs and setting expectations proactively so you can stay calm.

 

Depositing into CONNECT

Karyn and Noel’s dad will be able to connect if

a.) he respects that all behavior has a reason and

b.) he understands those reasons (in this case, that that Karyn and Noel each are fighting to prove that they matter and need to be treated that way)

When he becomes comfortable with the reasons behind behavior PROACTIVELY, he will be able to connect more effectively.

See Step 2 of the Parenting by Deposit Roadmap to learn the reasons for children’s behavior so you can connect more effectively.

 

Depositing into CORRECT

Karyn and Noel’s dad will be able to correct behavior by offering a tool if

a.) He has demonstrated consistently in the past that he will wait until Karyn and Noel resolve their disputes before doing anything else

b.) He has made enough deposits into the kids’ emotional needs that setting a boundary doesn’t put them deeper into Yuck and arguments

When he demonstrates that she means what she says and when she makes deposits into Karyn and Noel’s emotional needs PROACTIVELY, he will be able to correct Karyn and Noel’s behavior more effectively.

See Step 3 of the Parenting by Deposit Roadmap  to learn more about improving your influence so you can correct behavior.