1. Not all fights are the same, and not all are explosive. Learn to differentiate between the different fights by avoiding placing yourself in the middle of each one. No matter how young the children are, practice fairness by referring to all parties involved in the same manner. If you’re mad at one, be mad at the other. I used to yell at my three-year-old for grabbing a toy from his younger brother and at my toddler for crying. As silly as it sounds, it shows the children that you are a fair parent and they can BOTH rely on you for support. If the fight is small learn to say things like, "Oh, I see you two are fighting again," and nothing more. If the fight is more vicious you can lighten the situation by saying, "Just make sure you’re fair with each other." Your children will see that you are staying out of it, and are allowing them to judge and control the situation to the best of THEIR knowledge.

  2. Once you’re drawn into a fight by one of your children (simply as they call upon you for help), it is very hard to stay neutral. So, when your children are trying to put you in the middle, tell them how you love them both equally and it won’t be fair for you to take sides. Even when a situation is clearly only one’s fault, remember to stick to equal treatment of both, as difficult as it may be. You want to know that as soon as you play judge you also put labels on your children (one’s weak––the other, aggressive) as well as rob them of the opportunity to practice problem solving.

  3. Your kids most likely choose the better arenas to have their fights and enjoy it more when they have "a cheering crowd"––meaning you. Remember that "watching this show" was not your choice, and therefore you are not interested in buying any tickets to it. Diverting the fight to another room in the house is a better choice. You do it by simply saying to your children as soon as the fight breaks, "Oh, I see you two are having a fight again (validation). You know what, that is really ok by me (support), but I’m sorry, you can’t have it here. Why don’t you go to (your room/back yard/the den/etc.)?" By saying simply that, you are again letting your children know that you are supportive of them both equally, but will not be manipulated by their behavior.

  4. one likes to be lectured while they are having a hard time or struggling through. When your children are in the middle of a fight they are not interested in how tired you are of their fights or how disappointed you are of them. Discussions are good for when everyone is cooled down, rather than in the heat of the moment, and your "lectures" might be better heard and surely will make more sense. You too, in the heat of the moment, are not able to coherently present your case. So pick a good time to discuss their fights in general, or a particular one. Talk before bedtime, on a long drive in the car, or during dinner. You can let your children know how hard it is for you to see them fight, this is being honest with them, and also tell them that you understand that fights are sometimes unavoidable. You will notice that your children might still try to draw you to one side or another, and the conversation might even hurt someone’s feelings. Be compassionate and listen to both. Don’t try to have all the answers––it’s ok if you don’t. Instead, be appreciative to all and tell your children that.

  5. Most of all you want to remember that watching your children fight is a great burden to every parent and thus be forgiving towards yourself. Practicing patience while raising children is probably the best advice for parents any expert can give. By being patient you might not be harsh with your conclusion or draw impossible lines of punishment and unrealistic consequences ("You’re never coming out of your room! Forget about coming on vacation with us! If you punch your brother one more time I am never talking to again!") You know how impracticable those are. It’s better to anger your kids by staying out of a fight and not seem foolish making such threats. Practice biting your lips, taking deep breaths. Don’t be quick to jump right into the claws of sibling rivalry. Staying on the sidelines will enhance the peace at your house for the long run. Much like any good thing in life, immediate gratification is not necessarily true gratification