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Help! My Tween Boys Are Always Fighting: Bickering Brothers

Dear Your Teen:

My tween boys are always fighting! I can’t even leave them alone for two minutes without an argument escalating into a huge fight. And sometimes it gets physical. What should I do?

ANSWER | Dr. John Mayer

Stop the sibling fights

Let me comment on several aspects of this concern. First, your tween boys are certainly showing you that they CAN’T cope with being together, so don’t force them to be together. And I would be rather dramatic in that endeavor. One sits in the middle seat and the other sits in the way back of the minivan, for example. Or they are required to be in separate rooms when at home.

Next, double check your discipline to each for the brothers fighting. In other words, first you should be giving them discipline/consequences for this behavior and it needs to be strong enough to stop their fighting. You have to make the consequences for fighting sooooo hard that they just won’t go there. And in this case, it doesn’t matter who is to blame, who started it, caused it, etc. They both get consequences.

Make these consequences individualized. A mistake parents make is that they give the same consequence for each sibling of different ages and different life situations. When the consequence works for one child but not the other, the fighting will continue.

Finally, try and get to the root of why they are fighting and teach them alternative ways to resolve and solve this conflict. Teach them problem solving.

Hope that helps.

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Dr. John Mayer

Dr. John Mayer is a leading expert on teens. He is an author, practicing psychologist, consultant and professor. Based in Chicago, IL but parents can access his help and vast resources via his web site,, no matter where they live.