Is sibling rivalry and fighting an issue your home? Today I want to give you a unique approach to dealing with fighting among siblings. It is not the only solution we use. It is one of the techniques we have for teaching our children to live in peace with one another. For more about teaching our children to get along, please see my post about teaching kids to share, learning to faithful, and playing cooperative games.
What is the easy way out of sibling fighting? Separation. What I am proposing today is the opposite. With my kids, when they can’t get along, I often say to them, “OK, you guys need to go upstairs and play together. You need to learn how to figure this out and get along with one another.” I stick them together until they show in both their actions and their heart attitudes toward one another that they have learned to work it out. I say this is a “unique approach” because it can be a bit counterintuitive. Often times, we want to take the easiest path, and separation feels easier when you are in the moment. However, there’s much learning to be had when you are willing to take what sometimes feels like the more challenging approach.
Before you freak out on me, I absolutely do believe there are time when kids do just need their own space away from their siblings. There are times where I see the benefit of giving them that space. However, I have found much success in keeping them together. We talk about it and give them a lot of tools for interacting with one another. There is a lot of teaching involved in this. Some of that teaching involves learning scriptures like, “Do unto others as you would like them to do to you.” – Matthew 7:12 We also like teaching the verse, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” – Romans 12:18. There are teachings about how to communicate effectively, how to share, how to be laid back about things, how to be more tolerant of one another and how to deal with the selfishness we all feel. Parenting is teaching…all…the…time.
When we have given them the tools and the reminders, it is time for them to learn how to put it into practice. We have to learn to live at peace with one another, especially our family. Some kids think they can treat their sibling poorly because “It’s just my sister.” No! It’s not JUST your sister. That’s one of the most important relationships you have. You need to figure out how to live in love. Love, after all, is a choice. It manifests itself in small choices we make each day. We need to teach our kids that loving someone is learning how to make choices in the other person’s best interest…daily…moment by moment.
Kids need to learn how to live in peace with others. Giving some tips on how to stop sibling conflict before it starts it helpful, but the technique I have given today can help when things go south. There is not always the opportunity for separation. They will need to learn to get along with their classmates, co-workers, friends, roommates and spouses. In our home, it’s our responsibility to help them learn how to interact with others in a positive way. Removing the problem (in this case, the sibling) in no way aides in their development in learning how to function with others in an effective way. We too often want to take the easy way out and choose the path of least resistance. However, it’s those tough struggles that really are the teachable moments in your home. Take advantage of those rather than removing all the struggle from your children’s lives.
Note: Part of the inspiration of my blog is due to the mentorship of my parents as well as the Pritchards. Much of my parenting approach stems from their teaching. As I have felt blessed to have such amazing examples in my life, I have wanted to pass on what I’m learning along this challenging and yet joy-filled road of parenting. I encourage you to check out the Pritchard Ministry blog to learn more.