I've been doing a lot of reading lately! Between the physics books for the class and parenting books for the fighting, I've got a lot of books under my belt right now. Summer break is a tricky situation for my family. I like to take a break and my kids are old enough to be fairly self-entertaining. BUT when we don't have something regularly scheduled that takes up a lot of time, like school work, they can get on each other's nerves and then things start flying (literally--my youngest likes to 'throw her weight around').
In trying to find some help with the sibling nastiness, I reread a couple of books. Two by Adele Faber, "How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk," and "Siblings Without Rivalry," and I read one by Haim G. Ginott (the guy Faber worked with), "Between Parent and Child."
I enjoy all of the books, but I'm having a hard time getting enough information from them. In some ways I like the Haim G. Ginott book the best because he has more information about the general principles along with some examples. Also, Faber uses a hypothetical group session model with sharing stories to help illustrate examples, and I find that forced and distracting.
Reading parenting books is always enlightening. Sometimes in the "Aha! I think I need to do that!" way and sometimes with great chagrin as I think "Wow. I have been destroying my children's self-esteem for years because I was doing that."
I particularly like the very concrete advice by Faber on hitting; pay attention to the child who got hurt and don't come down like a screaming banshee on the agressor.
One thing I'm trying to remember is to validate their feelings. I love Dr. Ginott's saying "birds fly, fish swim, and people feel." Something I find maddening is that when I try to empathize with my children's feelings they tend to glare at me. I just can't figure it out. I think right now it might be because it's new and because sometimes I'm just not in the frame of mind to empathisize and they can tell it's just show.