Do your kids hate each other? Ok, so maybe that’s a stretch. Maybe they really, really, really dislike each other and you’re reminded of it every waking moment.
“Mooooooom! She hit me!”
“Mooooom! He’s in my room and won’t leave!”
“Moooom! He ate my candy!”
“Mooooom! She won’t give me back my airplane!”
It’s no wonder moms write me asking for help. They’ve read the anger triggers that many moms fall prey to and want to avoid them at all costs. These same moms tell me their biggest trigger is kids fighting and fussing from dawn to dusk.
Moms are exhausted from hearing the incessant whines, screams and cries. Dads are dreaming of coming home to a peaceful home. Kids would rather hang out at Grandma’s house or a friend’s house just to avoid siblings. Something has to be done.
The struggle is real. The struggle is common.
What to Do When Your Kids Hate Each Other
My six kids are in a variety of age ranges. Most of them are only two years apart from their older or younger sibling. The younger two are only 13 months apart — yeah that’s close!
One of my biggest desires for my family is to cultivate close, loving sibling bonds within the walls of our home. Sure, brothers and sisters can “get along” at Grandma’s house, the mall or at church — but at home? That’s where their real attitudes are displayed for one another. That’s where I want to see the love, sweetness and respect. That’s where I want to see lifelong friendships beginning to bud. That’s where I want to see sacrificial acts of kindness.
Do you want to see that too?
I wish I could say do thisand all your problems will be over!
In fact, that would be a great, catchy blog post.
But, here’s the truth. I can’t solve your child’s relationship problems in one blog post. Oh, if it were only that easy! But…I can tell you that if you work on the relationships, pray and seek God’s help and throw in a ton of patience, you will see your children begin to grow closer and enjoy caring, loving relationships with their siblings.
So, where do you start?
On your knees.
First, ask God for wisdom in each situation that arises among your children. Then, be willing to follow His instructions — even if it goes against popular psychologists’ advice and parenting fads.
Then, and only then, ask a mom you respect and admire to tell you why she thinks her kids have close-knit relationships. Who do I ask? My sweet friend, Lisa Jacobson from Club31Women. She has eight children and her family is just a beautiful expression of love! I won’t be offended in the least if you head over there now and read some of here posts. You’ll fall in love with her family and marriage posts. Guaranteed.
Though I am underserving of admiration, I want to share a few things that have worked in our family. Our six kids range from teens to preschoolers. Yes, that have close relationships. They do not hate each other for sure, nor do their actions even hint at a strong dislike. Do they ever squabble? yes. Is that to be expected? Absolutely. Is it acceptable? Not in the least.
As a parent I choose to intervene in most cases and work through the relationship issues until I see evidence that the quarrel has been resolved.
Here are the basics of how I handle the angry, not-so-happy, totally-unfair arguments that arise in our home between the kids.
What to Do When Your Kids Hate Each Other
I ask TWO questions. My kids are raised in a Christian home an are taught the principles of the Bible on a daily basis. They learn it in their homeschool activities, during our regular conversations in our home and at set family devotional times (7:30 PM nightly.) Through all these opportunities to hear God’s word, they know that God says to love thy neighbor as thyself and also commands us to be ye kind. Going on this foundation I ask them these simple questions: “Are you loving your neighbor?” “Are you being kind?”
Most of the time I receive a blush of shame as each child acknowledges they were being selfish in some way. Isn’t that where most of disagreements and relationship issue stem from? Selfishness?
I make my kids play together. This may sound artificial, but after four minutes or so I can see my kids playing happily together. I normally give them the option of either play together or complete a chore. They choose play every time. And I’m not telling them to watch a movie together. I’m telling them to PLAY together. They often come up with their own creative ideas! They play “store” together, create secret spy clubs or even pretend they are president, vice-president and have body guards. It’s beyond fun to sit back and watch! And this includes ALL the kids! Ages 14 down to 5. Yes, they are making messes. Yes, they are missing chores. But, they are building relationships — and that’s more important than a clean room! Plus, we’ll clean it up after — wink, wink!
I make them play the love game. Now this is something we do when two or more kids are having an overly fussy day. All kids involved in the fussing have to sit and hold hands. Then, they both have to say five positive things about the other person. Lastly, they have to hug and forgive each other. Only after all these steps have been accomplished can they get up and return to their previous activity. It’s simple, but it works!
I throw in a surprise. Is the 10 year old and the 8 year old the ones who are arguing? Then I take those two kid and they bake cookies with me in the kitchen. Only those two. Or I take those two on a quick lunch date so they have to spend some fun time together. I’m not rewarding their behavior, but I’m placing those two children in a fun, relaxed atmosphere where they only have each other (and me) to connect and play with. This really helps with sibling cliques too!
I enforce kindness speech. If one of my kids are having a very difficult time speaking nicely to her siblings, then she is not allowed to speak for 15 minutes. This really, really helps! I calmly say, “You are not using your words for kindness. You will not speak for 15 minutes, and then you may talk again — but only with kindness.” This works great for kids ages 6 and up.
I teach them to respect each other’s properties, time and personal space. Kids have to be given some sort of space, privacy or property rights in the home. It’s a natural desire that all humans have. When your child’s toys, bed or the personal items are constantly being ruined, grabbed or misplaced by another child, that in itself breeds contempt among siblings. Even in a large family, you can ensure your child has personal space, items and rights. Simle rights can include:
No one is allowed on your child’s bed without permission.
No one is allowed to touch his toys without permission.
No one is allowed to sit in his spot at the dinner table without permission.
Obviously, you have to counter these rights with the concept of sharing. So I try to keep that in mind too!
So tell me, parents, how do you work in your childrens’ sibling relationships? What have you seen work in your home? again, I can’t offer you a one-time only solution, but we can always be there for each other to offer tips and advice!
Interested in creating a Happier Home? Check out my 25 Day challenge that will help your family enjoy a happy, peaceful. loving home! <3 <3