1. The good sibling token. Every time one of my sons does something nice to one of his brother (sharing a toy, preparing the toothbrush, giving the last cookie, consoling him when he is hurt…), they put one token, or more if what they did was particularly nice, in a box. Once they run out of tokens, they get a treat for being a great brother. Anything from a candy to choosing the next DVD. It encourages them to be good instead of not being bad. We don’t do it all the time, only when we feel that they are going through a tough time and it works a treat.
2. Highlight their differences. My house is a constant competition for who is the fastest, the best at building blocks or drawing. This can spark big fights. So when one of them makes a claim that he is better than his brother for one thing, we tend to agree (if it is true) but immediately give a counter example. Something like “yes, your brother is scared of height and can’t play up there like you do, but he can hold a spider in his hand when you can’t because they scare you”. This nips the “yes you are/ no I’m not” fight in the bud and help them understand you don't have to be the best at everything.
3. Some toys are not for sharing- Sharing is hard and it is not fun. Each of my child has a few very special toys they love very much. The rule is that they don’t ever have to share these ones if they don’t want to. They also have the right not to share a toy the first day they get it. This avoids BIG dramas and they are more willing to share the rest.
4. Let them work it out. I tried to let them fight it out, I can’t. I am not built that way. Instead, if I see things are getting out of hand, I intervene but by asking them to find a solution to their problem. Amazingly, they actually find one every time! I don’t tell them to stop fighting as such, I just push them to find a solution. My 6 years old can now recognize when a situation escalates and 90% of the time he says “we need to find a solution”. If his brother is not co-operative, he walks away. Which gets his brother running to me but at least I have only one frustrated kid to handle, not 2. I am a glass half-full type of girl.
5. Absence make the heart grow founder- If you are lucky enough to have family or close friends nearby, arrange a sleep over for one of your child. Two days spent apart resets the fighting-meter back to zero. They sometimes just need a break from each other.
If nothing works…earplugs are always a good option.