I frequently hear mothers discuss sibling relationships. If there is warmth and kindness between the children, mom’s feel blessed. When the homes are characterized by rivalry, mom’s are grieved. At times I find a mother who wonders if she even likes her children. Because of the dissention between them, she wants to despair.
I believe there is an answer to the competitive and disagreement issues among children. Following are six points, that if worked at in your home, you’ll begin to enjoy a home that spreads an aroma of oneness and comradeship.
1. Respect between parents.
When mom loves dad and dad loves mom, the warmth spreads into the children’s hearts. When parents speak respectfully to each other, it sets the atmosphere for the household.
2. Connecting with each child.
Do you know your children’s’ hearts? If you want to have a meaningful impact on your children’s lives, you must have a relationship with them.
Do you know these things about each child?
1. What does he most enjoy?
2. Who does he look up to?
3. What are his fears?
4. What are his favorite activities?
5. What does he most enjoy doing with me?
6. What music does he enjoy?
7. What does he want to be when he’s grown up?
8. What activities does he most dislike?
9. How does he spend his free time?
10. If he were to choose a family together time, what would it be?
Your results to these questions indicate how connected you are to your children. If a child feels disconnected with you, they may try to compete with their siblings to win your attention
3. Deferring to the other.
As children of God our lives are first about God and then the other person. It’s important to train our children to defer to their sibling. My daughter, Rachel, was endeavoring to teach Sierra (4) a less selfish spirit. When Sierra wanted a drink, Rachel asked her to offer one to Aleya (22 month) first. Encouraging your children to defer to another child first helps them learn to enjoy giving to their siblings.
Finding practical things your children can do for each other is a great way to teach them a serving spirit. Christa, another daughter, was telling me some things she was doing with her children to help them in this area.
1. Kyle (5) was to take Alyssa’s (2) hand to help her to the car each time the family went away.
2. Kassie (3) was to offer to help Kyle clean his room before she did hers.
3. When Kyle won a game, Kassie encouraged him by telling him, “You did a great job, Kyle.”
4. If Alyssa wanted to play outside and Kyle didn’t want to at that moment, Kyle needed to choose to play outside with Alyssa, just to encourage her.
5. Kyle needed to help Kassie get her coat and boots on before he got his own.
Doing service things for their sibling over an extended period of time really seemed to pay off in better relationships. Some moms have taken one whole week to practice this serving in their family. All week long each is to defer to the other by doing service projects for the other siblings before they met their own desires. By the end of the week a habit seemed to be formed.
Teaching your children the little words “thank you” will be a priceless gift given to them. Not only are they to tell mom or the cook thank you for the meal, but they are to say those two little words to each other all throughout the day. When Aleya takes the drink from Sierra, she tells Sierra, “Thank you.” When Kassie fixes Kyle’s bed, Kyle tells her, “Thank you.” When Kassie tells Kyle that he did a great job with the game, Kyle tells Kassie, “Thank you.” Moms and dads set the best example of this to their children. When your child sets the table, helps with the canning, mows the yard and gets the chores done, be sure to remember to thank them for their work.
5. Encouraging words.
Expect your children to bless their sibling with kind words. Each can learn to celebrate the good another does. When one does a good job helping with the laundry, it’s important for another child to tell him that. When one gets a good grade on a test, the other children can be taught to exclaim over it. If one learns to tie his shoe, make her bed or does his chores well, the expected thing is that the other children bless them in their efforts. When Aleya was having a hard day, Sierra told Aleya to, “Come,” and she looked at books with her. When Kyle got hit by the bat, Kassie, encouraged him by telling him she felt sad that he got hurt.
Respect, I believe, is a result of the above. As children:
see their parents model respect for each other,
feel connected with mom and dad,
learn to help each other,
thank the other, and
encourage one another with kind words,
they learn respect for each other.
I bless you as you endeavor to build sibling relationships that will last a lifetime and fill your home with laughter and delight. Remember your children won’t be perfect and learning comes from continual, kind teaching, “Line upon line, precept upon precept.”
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