No Fault Rule – For Fighting Among Peers of Siblings

Charles Emmrys PhD


When an adult comes upon to an argument between kids, there is no way they can ever get a straight story or know who is really at fault. Asking whose fault it is rarely gives good results. We recommend you not do that.

The second point is that it is never only one person’s fault. It’s really the responsibility of the group to not let group members start trouble and to not let trouble continue if it starts. If a fight breaks out, then all are responsible. They have to learn to not let it happen. The core social lesson is shared responsibility within a group, an important lesson in citizenship.


  1. If two children are having an argument, ask them both to go into a room and talk it out and come up with a solution both agree with. If they come back and declare that it is resolved, the adult asks for no further explanation and invites them to go and play.
  2. If the argument continues, both receive a time out. Don't even ask who is at fault.
  3. If there is a physical fight, everyone involved gets a time out. Remember, it’s their job to make sure they or their friends don't get into fights in the first place.
  4. If there are three or more children, then the rule still applies. That means that if an argument breaks out and they do not resolve it, then the whole group does a time out, even the quiet one that never gets into any trouble.

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