We’ve all been there. Everything is going well and then you hear an outburst! “Johnny, get out of my room.” ” Susie, don’t touch me.” Sibling rivalry is an inevitable part of family life. One minute your kids love each other and the next they are at each other’s throats! Ugh!!! What’s a mom to do? Take heart,all is not lost.
Our homes can be a refuge of peace from the world. Remember the old saying, “Home is where the heart is.” But what if your home isn’t a refuge of peace? Is your home filled with strife and contention. Are your children constantly fighting?
Listed below are some helpful strategies you can use to minimize sibling rivalry:
1. Focus on sibling friendship: Do things together as a family. Your kids don’t have to have friends along on every outing. Encourage your kids to serve each other. Have them take turns serving dinner or fixing snacks for everyone.
2. Encourage your children to pray for each other: When one child is sick, have everyone gather around to pray for that child. Have them take turns praying for each other during your devotion time. Teach your siblings to pray for each other when they have a test in school. And don’t forget when they have problems with others, that’s a golden opportunity to teach your children to pray.
3. Teach each child to respect the other: Respect is one of the most fundamental emotional needs a person has. Don’t allow your children to insult each other. Nip it in the bud. Make your children apologize, not just a flippant “sorry”, but a sincere apology. Negative words affect children negatively, especially when it comes from a sibling.
A note about teasing: Teasing in and of itself is harmless. However, teasing has a way of getting out of hand quickly. If your child says something hurtful and then says, “Just kidding”, it is still hurtful. Don’t allow this behavior.
4. Make sure your children understand that feelings are real and important: Your child’s feelings are real and important. Don’t deny them; instead, teach him to express his emotions appropriately. Helping children figure out the cause of their feelings will help them deal with negative emotions in the future. Talk it out with them. Ask them why they feel that way and offer suggestions (i.e jealous, anger, frustration). Also, teach your child that emotions and actions go hand and hand. We act a certain way based on how we feel. Teach them that when they realize the cause of their actions as well as their siblings, it will enable them to deal with conflict in a positive manner. And parents, this help them learn how to deal with personal conflict in the future.
If your child is lashing out because he is hurt, teach him to identify his emotion and to express it verbally. Encourage your child to tell his sibling that he is hurt. Teach your child the principle of Matthew 18: 15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.”
And most importantly, pray for a peaceful home! Your home can be a refuge from the world. Home is indeed where the heart is and home is where they love you!
Remember all is not lost. Start working today to minimize sibling rivalry and to teach your children to love and respect each other.