Bickering Kids: The Healthy Way To Resolve Conflict

Date: 07/06/2023

Title: How do I get my kids to stop bickering?

00:00:00 Speaker 1
You, your kids won't stop bickering. What are you supposed to do? Well, let's talk about that
today on Tips on Teens. My name is Kent Toussaint. I'm a licensed marriage family therapist, and
I specialize in helping kids, teens, and families live happier lives. I lead two organizations,
teen Therapy Center and the nonprofit 501 c three organization, Child and Teen Counseling,
both here in Woodland Hills, California. And every Wednesday at noon, I jump onto Facebook
Live to answer your parenting questions. Let's jump into today's. Somehow my family has turned
into that family that argues all the time. We never used to be like this. I have a ten year old and
a six year old, and it feels like they're constantly bickering these days. Sometimes my wife
and I get frustrated, and we all get involved. It's ridiculous. Most of the time. It's not like
one of them is right and one of them is wrong. So I just don't even know what to say to them anymore.
If you have any techniques for parents in this situation,

00:01:05 Speaker 1
I'd love to hear them before we all get in the car for a summer road trip. Thank you for your question.
Here's my question for you, and it's the toughest question for parents to answer, so I'm going
to start with the big heavy one. First is, do you and your wife walk the walk? In other words, are
you modeling for your kids how to resolve conflicts, differences between each other, between
you and your kids? So, for example, if you and your wife are constantly bickering, well, your
kids are going to follow suit. Or when your kids do something wrong, do you immediately go to
bickering, angry, frustrated mode, or do you model a more calm approach? Your approach, your
way you model it is going to make one of the biggest differences in how they follow. Obviously,
they're still going to bicker their kids. Ten and six or 16 and 20 really doesn't matter. Kids
will bicker from time to time. If you had a sibling, I'm sure you probably bickered your sibling
as well when you were a kid. But when they

00:02:09 Speaker 1
do bicker, the important thing is to stay calm. Show empathy to both sides. Don't pick sides.
This is one of the biggest traps that parents get into. They go, Ah, I've decided that you are
right and you are wrong. And generally that just makes things worse, because whoever is wrong
feels resentful. Whoever wins feels like, neener neener neener neener. And it just continues
the cycle of conflict, and we want to dissipate that. We want to have that reduce. So show empathy
to both sides. Hey, Johnny, I hear that you want the trucks to play with and Nancy, I hear that
you want to play with the trucks, too. Both you want to play with the trucks. Any suggestions?
I see you're both hurt. You're frustrated, and I want it. I want it. And then you start to teach
them how to communicate this. So you sit down. One of the things we talk about in psychology all
the time and some of you know what I'm going to say. You're going to groan, but they're effective
is I statements. Right now, many of you are

00:03:08 Speaker 1
saying what's nice statements. Some of you like, oh, no, I statements. I statements are ways
to slow down the conversation and be non confrontational while sharing what you want to say.
For example, here's an I statement. I'm frustrated and I'm sad because I feel like I'm not getting
my turn. That's an I statement. It's all about me and how I feel, right? It's not about I didn't
make accusation. I didn't say anything wrong about you. I'm saying this is how I feel. This is
not an I statement. I'm frustrated and I'm angry because you're getting in my way and you won't
let me play with my trucks. That's not an I statement. That's a you statement. You statements
are more aggressive and it's hard for people to have empathy when they're feeling attacked.
So you model them. You tell your child, this is how you say it. This is how you say to Nancy that
you want your turn. And then together, you guys all work together to find a reasonable compromise,
a reasonable solution. Neither side is going

00:04:06 Speaker 1
to win. It's finding the middle ground and it's hard and it takes time in practice and you're
not going to fix it overnight. I wish there was a silver bullet, but there isn't. Some of you say,
well, just put an iPad in front of them and they'll be great. That's going to make them argue more
because they're going to get more agitated and irritated by being on screens for so long. So
it's learning how to communicate which is going to help them the rest of their lives. And then
where do they learn that? Hopefully they learn it at home from amazing teachers that you the
parents. Anyways, it's a big topic. Obviously, I can go to a whole workshop on this, but we only
have a few minutes to talk about it. Again, monitor how you are when you're engaging with your
kids and your spouse on how you resolve conflict and teaching your kids how to have empathy for
each other and teaching them how to have compromise and find a middle ground. That's your question
for today. Thank you so much for your question.

00:04:57 Speaker 1
If you have a question you like me to hear and answer, sir here on Tips on teens. Email us at
or direct messages right here on Facebook. We love your questions. Again. My name is Kent Toussaint
with Teen Therapy Center and the nonprofit Child and Teen Counseling. And I'll see you guys
next Wednesday. Bye.

Kids. Will. Bicker!

And while they’re kids, your children will keep bickering!

The good news is, bickering kids present you as a parent with an opportunity to teach lessons of communication that will stay with them their whole lives.

The first question to ask yourself if you have bickering kids is: are you and your partner providing a positive model for how to resolve conflict? When you clash with your kids or amongst yourselves, do you immediately get aggressive, or do you have a calm approach? The example you provide is the biggest influence on your children.

Next, don’t take sides! If you get involved in the argument and take a side yourself it will only continue the cycle of conflict. You can resolve these kinds of conflicts most effectively and minimize future escalations by making both sides feel you acknowledge them and are listening to their feelings.

it’s in the i’s

And then there’s the famous “I statement.” The “I statement” is a powerful tool for helping kids express their feelings and making themselves feel heard. Don’t know what an “I statement” is? Don’t worry! We’re going to teach you in this Tips on Teens video:

“Somehow my family has turned into that family that argues all the time. We never used to be like this. I have a 10 year old and a 6 year old, and it feels like they’re constantly bickering these days. Sometimes my wife and I get frustrated and we all get involved. It’s ridiculous! Most of the time it’s not like one of them is right and one of them is wrong, so I just don’t even know what to say to them anymore. If you have any techniques for parents in this situation I’d love to hear them before we all get in the car for a summer road trip.”

Clinical Director Kent Toussaint answers your parenting questions every Wednesday at 12:00pm in our weekly segment Tips On Teens on Facebook Live. Have questions about parenting kids and teens? Send them to: We love to hear from you!

Head on over to our Facebook page every Wednesday at 12:00pm to watch LIVE!  Check out our page here –

If you have more questions or would like more information, please contact our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint at 818.697.8555.