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How to stop fighting with your kids about food, and so much more

Fights betwen family members is inevitable but that doesn't mean you shouldn't learn how to work them out. Parenting expert Alyson Schafer breaks down the most common family fights we get into and how we can approach them. 

Power and control

Did you know the number one thing that family fights about is food? Many families have a high value around nutrition and parents feels an obligation to make sure their children are fed properly, believing they would be failing as a parent if they didn’t manage their child’s diet. Food issues are largely about power struggles between the parent and child. The solution is to share the power between parent and child (depending on the age as well). It's a child's job to eat enough food to fill their belly and make it through to snack time of the next meal. They'll learn to regulate their eating if you let them practice it independently and to listen to feedback from their body instead of what others tell them.

Refusing to take responsibilities

Making kids do what they are supposed to do can include refusing to clear their plate from the table, refusing to do their homework, refusing to clean their bedroom and more. When kids don’t do what they are supposed to, parents end up getting mad. Stop thinking they should listen and instead implement a consequence with 3 qualities: reasonable, related and revealed in advance. For example, a consequence for not doing homework is that your teacher will be disappointed and may make you stay in for recess to finish it, or your marks will fall. 

Relationships

Sibling fights are bound to happen. However, most parents see fighting incorrectly. They see an aggressor and a victim and they punish the aggressor and the victim gets rescued. Instead, what happens to one child should happen to the other. If you put them in the same boat – they are invested in keeping the other one peaceful. If you pit them against each other they will poke the bear and get the easily dysregulated kid to punch them, just to get a parent to punish them so they look good and the other looks bad. So ignore fights when you can, and put them in the same boat if you can’t.

Limits and boundaries

Tech has created new challenges for parents and it's really just another example of setting and enforcing limits and boundaries which can be hard for some parents. What you should do instead is co-create appropriate tech rules together. Talk about balance and what, when and where appropriateness of tech use in your home. Write the rules down together and post them if it helps you stay consistent. Be consistent – even if you’re tired, busy, don’t want the blow up.