Ahhhh. Sibling rivalry. There is nothing quite like it. Nothing can bring a home’s atmosphere down quite like bickering siblings. ” She stole my lightsaber.” “It’s my turn with the doll stroller.” “He’s looking at me funny.” As a mom of three young kids, I can tell you that nothing puts a damper on the day like bickering between siblings.
Getting Along Takes Work
My kids love each other; I really believe they do, but they are innately selfish just like the rest of us, and so they have a tendency to fight and argue and push for their way. On my worst days, I can definitely be heard just shouting “Knock it off!” down the basement stairs, but below are some much better practices we have found to help encourage our kids and ourselves to pursue peace.
Demonstrate Healthy Conflict Resolution
Healthy conflict resolution is vital to children’s emotional health, and they learn this in the home. The way conflict is handled in your home is most likely how they will manage conflict throughout their lives. Let them witness you and your spouse work through things and apologize to one another.
Be very intentional about how you handle conflict with each of your children. Be quick to apologize when you have been impatient or unkind so that they learn to be quick to apologize.
Apologies are Essential to Getting Along
An essential piece of an apology is taking responsibility for what you have done and admitting it was wrong. Apologies in our house sound something like this: I am sorry I hit you. That was not kind. Will you please forgive me?
It is imperative for our children to learn to quickly own their mistakes and make it right with the person they have wronged.
Remind Them of Who They Are
Part of being a family is we all have responsibility for the tone and tenor of our home. We all have agreed that we want our home to be a place of peace. Reminding our children that they are part of something bigger than themselves calls them to action. They can choose to be a part of something we are all working towards together, which gives them greater purpose and meaning for their choices.
Ask them what kind of brother or sister they want to be? How do they want their actions and words to make their siblings feel? Being others-centered instead of self-centered is something that needs to be taught and practiced with regularity. As adults, we still have to practice this skill! It is a gift to teach them this early.
Learning to Learn Each Other
One thing that is so fun about parenting is getting to know your children, and one of the joys we point out to our kiddos is the privilege they have in getting to grow together and get to know each other. We enjoy talking about each other’s gifts. On the flip side, we get to know each other’s weaknesses, so we can more readily extend grace to one another.
Practice Gratitude for Siblings
Siblings are a gift! Siblings are a gift! Siblings are a gift! It’s a mantra around here. You get to have built-in best friends; what a privilege. We encourage them to speak their gratitude for and to one another often! I just overhead my younger daughter say to my oldest daughter, “I’m so grateful I have a sister to play dolls with.” I love it when I hear gratitude overflow from their hearts. The more they practice it the better!
I don’t know about you, but my expectations can make or break my day. If I am expecting sun and I get snow, I have a much more difficult time than if I was prepared for snow.
If I expect my husband to be home for dinner and he doesn’t show up until bedtime, I am upset. If I am expecting him to come home at bedtime then it is no problem at all.
I think parenting is like this. Sometimes, I come into the day with the expectation that my children will get along. I forget that they are still learning and are not perfect. Then I am irritated very quickly when arguing and bickering begins.
Instead, if I go into the day remembering that my treasures are learning and growing just like me and that I will definitely have to help them remember how to love well today, I have much more grace for the training that is required during the day.
A couple of years ago, my husband gave my children the analogy of building a fire. The argument is the fire. Fire needs wood to burn. If you keep arguing, you keep putting sticks on the fire, and the fire gets bigger and bigger until it is out of control. On the other hand, if you decide to take the sticks out of the fire, the fire fizzles out and can’t keep burning.
This one really stuck with our kids, and now we can say, “Take your sticks out,” and often that is the only reminder they need to work it out calmly and kindly. Not always, mind you, but often.
Use Scripture to Encourage Siblings to Get Along.
We use a lot of scripture in our home. Here are some helpful scriptural reminders about love and kindness to memorize with your kids! If you want to sign up for our newsletter, you can receive some awesome printable notecards of these verses for your family. Having something tangible for children to see can really help ingrain in their minds the beauty of peace in the home.
Seek Peace and Pursue it. Psalm 34:14
Do to others as you would have them do to you. Luke 6:31
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things, there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23
Love one another as I have loved you John 13:34
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 1 Corinthians 13:4-5
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:2-3
Do everything in love. 1 Corinthians 16:14
Above all, love each other deeply because love covers over a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8
Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Romans 12:10
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Eph 4:32
A Peaceful Home
During this unprecedented time, most of us are spending more hours at home together than ever before. Now is a great time to set some good habits in motion to encourage our kids to love their siblings well. Pray for them to have hearts that are willing to put others first and demonstrate daily how to have healthy loving relationships. A peaceful home is worth all the effort!
A few days after I wrote this I ran into this article and was so grateful to see that we at wordfromthebird.blog were not alone in thinking that this issue is vitally important. Check out this article about sibling rivalry from Jen Wilkin at Christianity Today. It is a great encouragement that the relationship between your kids is worth fighting for! Happy Parenting!