This is my new motto. Seriously. I am tired of intervening partly because after the 6,000th time it is pretty time consuming and partly because I think it is a great learning tool. If they can't figure out how to work out their problems with their brother/sister, how are they going to have the skills to work out their problems with other people. I believe this is a very important skill.
In our family, my daughter is usually the passive one. She will be playing with a toy, my son will come over and grab it and then she will come over to me and cry that he took it away. I usually tell her to go try and work it out. But what I am noticing lately is that she is being a bit dramatic with situations. Even lying a bit. For instance, my son will be playing with something and she will want it and she will come out and say the exact same thing to me. "Spider took my toy." Hmmm, really. This was my red flag. She is relying on me too much. And they are both learning to get away with things.
My son is actually really tough. Almost too tough. He will fight for something until the end, until the toy is riped in half. What is not cool is that at 21 months, when the tug-o-war doesn't work, he goes back to the old stand-by of biting or hitting. This, is when I step in and take him away. I can't have him beating my daughter up. But getting her to figure out to be kind and rough is a good thing.
I try to give my kids the tools to resolve a situation. I ask my daughter to give my son another toy if she wants to play with the same toy as him. This often works. I teach them that they each get 10 seconds with the toy and then they have to share. If I am the one refereeing this all of the time, then I will never know if they are really getting it. It is hard for me to hear the crying and screaming but in the end, when they can resolve their differences and they come out of it unscathed and smiling, it is a minor achievement for me as the mommy. Actually now that I think of it, it is pretty major.