|3 Ways to Encourage Kinder Sibling Interactions|
|“STOP LOOKING AT ME!!!!” Classic sibling line. |
Since when did looking at someone become the most annoying thing in the world? My guess was when siblings were invented. LOL!
I remember growing up when my brother would draw a line in our velour car seat and tell me not to cross it (and I always would just to tick him off). I remember shouting at him to “GET OUT OF MY ROOM!!!!” I even remember us fighting over who had the most Captain Crunch Berries in our cereal bowls.
If you’re kids fight with each other…they are normal. If they argue…they are normal. If they bicker and pick and peck and poke at each other…they are normal.
Sibling rivalry is normal. It is.
Now, not to say that we can’t make it better. Not to say that we can’t put some teamwork tools in place to make it better…because we can!
But I just wanted to start by saying that it’s normal. And it’s healthy–to a certain degree–especially if we use this rivalry as a teaching tool for life.
Because there is no greater place to learn to resolve conflict, to grow in cooperation, to work with different personalities, and to understand the art of compromise than in our families!
I truly believe that’s why God brought our families together.
Sibling Rivalry gives us an opportunity to teach and encourage our kids how to work together as a team…and that’s something they will carry into their future jobs, friendships, marriages, and even into their own parenting.
So before you make a wish to the next genie you meet that sibling rivalry would just end…I hope you can see it a little differently.
And learn to handle it a little more effectively.
Here are 3 ways to encourage kinder sibling interactions…
1. Teach more…punish less: When siblings fight constantly, it can be so easy to get caught in the trap of just policing their behavior and dishing out punishments left and right. It’s exhausting and not our job. Our job is to teach. Let’s be proactive. Let’s identify the problem, pray about it, get ideas from our spouse and kids on how to solve the problem and work as a team. Then make a plan. And practice! Yes, practice sharing. Practice riding in the car without fighting. Practice using kind words with each other. Practice kindness in whatever area that they are not choosing to show kindness. Teach them what to say and what to do…even when someone looks at them funny.
2. Let them work it out: Once you’ve involved your kids in making a plan on working more as a team, give them space and time to work it out together. In fact, when I hear an argument going on, I just stay away. If someone comes running to me for help, I say “Work it out please. I know you can solve this problem as a team.” And then give them more space. It’s not easy and yet it’s so freeing. Eventually, they do work it out and then I can come in and thank them for using teamwork to solve the problem! It’s great. Now, let’s get real here…obviously, we all know to step in if there are any safety concerns, but if it’s just good ole’ normal sibling rivalry…let them work it out. And if they need more practice…practice more. Don’t settle for their disrespect.
3. Provide more time together: When kids fight all the time, the first thing some parents want to do (and understandably so) is try to separate them as much as possible. Instead, let’s provide opportunities for them to spend time together as much as possible. It is so important that kids see each other as being on the same team, and in my opinion, nothing says “team” more than time. Give them more time together as a whole family like serving the community, or doing a movie night or game night. And give them more time just as kids like letting them stay up a little later after bedtime to play a game together in one of their rooms or build a fort and watch their own movie.
Obviously giving them space is great and sometimes much-needed (especially to parents who are dealing with constantly annoying interactions), but find balance. Separate them in the moment if needed…give them time (especially those introverts) to just be alone, but always make sure there are plenty of opportunities for togetherness and fun too.
Until our kids stop looking at each other just to annoy and until our kids can stop being annoyed at someone’s look, there will always be sibling rivalry. But I hope that after you apply some of these teamwork strategies, you will hear more laughter than loud shouts and a lot less annoyance from annoying looks!
Lord, Just as You instruct us and teach us in the way we should go and counsel us with Your eye upon us (Psalm 32:8), lead us in doing the same for our children. Allow your kindness and love to flow through our homes creating brothers and sisters who respect and live in peace with one another.
Here’s to building better families–