I’m an only child and, for that reason, I wanted more than one child when I started my own family. I had dreamed of my children playing happily together all the time, becoming best buds, sharing secrets and working together to help around the house…

Then I had my 2 boys, only 18 months apart. From the very first day the younger brother came home from the hospital, it was clear they were polar opposites who liked radically different things and had radically different ways of navigating life.

Because of this, or despite this, there were many sibling fights between my two boys. Having not lived it, I felt ill-equipped to make it stop.

I tried separating them, telling them to stop, punishing the initiator/hugging the victim, punishing the victim/hugging the initiator, leaving them to fight it out, etc. BUT still the problems continued. Sigh…

Finally, after I had discovered collaborative problem solving (outlined in The Explosive Child by Dr. Ross Greene) and realized the importance of relationship building, I tried a different approach.

I tried to find ways to connect them. Street hockey? No. A certain kind of movie? No. Board Games? Absolute no. And on and on we went until we finally discovered a connection. Minecraft!

So what did this mom do? I set up two computers side by side and encouraged my boys to play video games! Crazy I know.

But do you know what happened? They spent time together; they worked together to build worlds, to fight zombies, to find good servers, to advocate for each other when one got accidently banned, and so much more.

Did they stop fighting after this? Not completely but when they did, they had that commonality to reconnect over once the fight was over. As a bonus, the more I let them play Minecraft, the more time they spent working together and the less time they had to fight with each other anyway. 😉

My colleague, Vicki Parnell, and I both blogged on the topic of sibling rivalry this week. Check out her blog on how to look past the behaviour when dealing with sibling conflict  here!


Penny Mayo, a Parent Solutions Consultant, Helps Families Help Themselves! Struggling with finding support for her challenging kids, Penny changed her career from engineering to working with kids with different needs. Through experience, Penny has honed her ability to see the stressors that kids face and to collaboratively solve the problems that stand in the way of a calm home front. Now, Penny teaches other parents how to do this for their own families. She provides consulting and, workshops and is developing on-line resources for parents.

You can find Penny at www.pennymayo.ca and on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/pennymayo.ca/