Parents: does it matter which kid started the fight?

Well, I was being flippant there, really!

It is true though that I hate watching kids who are used to their parents intervening and negotiating through every childish spat. Kids of elementary age and up should be able to solve most of their disputes by themselves.

When my kids have a geniune problem I don’t mind working it out with them but I will NOT be involved with the “pick, pick, pick, THUMP, wail” type thing. The younger one to be honest is horrible to his older brother and dreadfully disrespectful. Therefore if he involves me with the “He thumped meeeee” wail, yes, I will punish the thumper but the taunter will also be punished.

Bring me a dead body, then will discuss the punishment.

Whether it matters depends on the siblings.

With my two boys? They don’t really fight, but one of them will start picking at the other, and he’ll answer back in kind, so the first one ups the stakes, and it just goes from there. It’s all fun and games, unless and until it gets out of hand. Most of the time they’re good at stopping when one of them is close to the tipping point, but when they don’t, it doesn’t really matter who started it, in my opinion - the best thing I can do is put a stop to it, NOW. Once they’ve both cooled down, they’ve forgotten what started the argument in the first place, and it’s all good again.

I’ve seen plenty of other sibling pairs and groups, though, where one sibling intentionally picks fights and doesn’t mind getting punished as long as the victim gets it, too. In that sort of situation, it’s vital to get to the bottom of the situation and let the young instigator know that a) a parent knows what’s going on and b) no matter how much trouble Chosen Victim gets into for hitting, Instigator will be in deeper trouble for provoking the fight. Otherwise Instigator will continue to think the fun is worth it as long as Chosen Victim gets punished the same way, as my mother used to say, “so I’m sure I get the guilty party” :rolleyes:

In the moment, it doesn’t matter. Later, it might.

That is, if you’re fuming and screaming and indignant, you’re not responding rationally, and you need to go cool down, whether you started it or not. Once you’re calm, we can have a discussion about what happened, where you were provoked and how you might handle it better (non-violently, quieter, whatever that means) next time. And I’ll have this discussion, probably separately, with the other guy as well. But while you’re still fuming is not the time for this discussion.

I don’t dole out “punishments”. Punishments are authoritarian bullshit that don’t teach kids how to control themselves when there is no authority around. But I’m happy to talk to you, help you find your triggers in a non-triggering manner and discuss strategies for how you might handle difficult situations. Which of these strategies you choose next time is up to you, and you’ll quickly find out whether they work any better than the strategy you chose this time.

A time out in our house isn’t punishment, it’s a cooling off period. And I’ve sent *myself *to time out to cool off when I need it!

Lighten up, Francis.

This, absolutely.

The boy is a darling, an absolute delight…except when he’s in the mood to be an annoying little asshole. The girl is a model of maturity and good sense…except when she’s in touchy bitch mode.

And I am a just and patient parent…except when everybody just needs to shut up right now. :slight_smile:

I’m STILL laughing at this! :stuck_out_tongue:

(P.S. You’re a wise mom.)

Of course not. It doesn’t even matter if there actually was a fight, just beat the shit out of the older one.

‘Fights’ in our house usually consist of one child hitting the other, the other hitting back and the first telling on the second.

I almost always get to the bottom of it (they get time outs until they are ready to tell the truth and then they both have to agree what happened). Consequences usually involve apologizing and play acting what they could have done instead.

My kids so hate this process that the act of hitting each other seems to have lost its appeal. (Though I nearly died of laughter when my youngest said to the oldest who had called him a name, ‘thanks’ and just walked away like we play acted. The oldest nearly burst from being so annoyed.)

I’d go with the quick investigation approach as there is rarely a case where one kid has up and attacked the other for no good reason. And with kids you know, you learn their patterns pretty quickly, so there is usually evidence of what happened either because you hear voices getting elevated in the other room before the punch or something (like a toy) is in the hand of the kid who shouldn’t have the toy. In those circumstances, the instigator gets it worse than the person who threw the punch, but both get punished. If there is no prior evidence, everyone get punished equally. If there is no evidence, but several kids all have the same story where one party is clearly guilty, that kid gets punished and the others are told not to play with him/her for a period of time. The “everyone gets punished equally all the time” thing doesn’t work for me because one kid will often be a jerk to the other kid on purpose knowing that the ‘equal punishment’ hurts the victim far more than the attacker, particularly when the victim is younger where a time out is that mush more harsh for them.