It happens every day — sibling rivalry. How can a mom or dad cope with the endless bickering? Not only does the incessant squabbles cause undesired stress in the home, it also creates a rift between siblings that could become best friends.
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“Mom, he stole my bear!”
“Mom, he’s sitting in my spot!”
“Mom, she made a mean face at me!”
“Mom, she called me dumb!”
Healthy sibling relationships is a subject that weighs heavily on my mind. I want my kids to cultivate sibling relationships that are beautiful, close-knit and unique. Why? My kids don’t understand this now, but many times our family is all we have!
In order to aid my kids in drawing closer to one another, I developed a love plan for siblings. It does help to keep the minor skirmishes down, which basically eliminates a more serious problem — broken relationships between siblings that progress into adulthood. Seriously, some brothers and sisters never learn to let the past go, and hold grudges for their entire life. It’s my job as a mom to help my kids understand the importance of relationships, and sibling relationships are on the top 10 most important relationship list!
The ideas below have helped improve the overall brother/sister relationships around our house. If a morning starts out grumpier than normal, we start using the techniques below. Peace is normally returned to our home after about 20 or 30 minutes. Try it and see if it works for you!
How to Stop Sibling Rivalry
- Calm the storm. Most arguments between siblings are caused by both kids involved. My husband and I make both of the squabblers sit down and stop playing or whatever activity they were engaged in. This gives us and them time to calm down and collect all needful information. I find sorting through issues and disciplining kids is much more effective if the child and the parent is calm. If you are irritated and stressed, take a five-minute cool down session and then return and deal with your munchkins.
- Play a game. Huh?! I know, the last thing on your mind is letting the kids play a game, but this one isn’t exactly Candy-land. When two kids are constantly arguing, we make them play “The Love Game.” Both kids have to sit down 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.
- Change activities. If one activity tends to spark skirmishes, we take that activity away for one week. After one week, the kids can try to resume that activity. If bickering ignites, the activity comes to a halt.
- Change scenery. Maybe your kids just need some fresh air. Put down the school books or broom and head outside. If weather doesn’t permit, make a tent in your living room and pretend your outside in the jungle. Use your imagination and just give your kids a day to “get away from it all.” Budget and circumstance may not allow you to take a trip to the park or children’s museum, but your kids will love a change in the daily monotony of school and chores. Sometimes we adults get the grumpies and are more likely to snap at someone when we have been cooped up as well. Enjoy this life God has given you, and encourage your kids to do the same!
- Try the system. About one year ago our family started using a point system. It is a point system we developed in order to curb bad habits. As habits change, we change the point system as well. Name-calling, complaining, and not completing chores are all on the system. For each misdemeanor a certain amount of points is deducted for that week. When Friday rolls around, if a child has lost 50 points or more they are not allowed to come to our family slumber party where we enjoy fun snacks, movies, games and a late night. Many of the disagreements around our house result from the above-mentioned misdemeanors. If I am consistent with the system, the fussing among siblings greatly lessens. If I lose track of points, which I admittedly do at times, the fussing elevates. Whatever parenting tool in sibling relationships works for your family — stick with it! If mom or dad become inconsistent, so will the kids.
- Focus on love. Our kids know love is patient and love is kind, but sometimes they need to be reminded. As trite as it may sound, having small pow-wows throughout the day on loving our neighbors, family and siblings can really help deter squabbles and spats. Take the time to address the negative attitude and use every opportunity to teach your kids about true love — love that puts others first and self last.
What steps has your family taken to prevent sibling rivalry? I would love to hear them in the comments!