Raising Siblings Without Rivalry – Part 2 – MBFLP 253-2

Part 2 – Making Competition Helpful, Not Harmful

Help your children compete without conflict

When you’ve got more than one child, you are going to have challenges. How can you teach them to play together and enjoy games without the older ones overrunning the younger? We had six boys over a twelve-year span, so we had to figure this out! This episode, we’re talking about some practical ways to make family competition helpful, not harmful.

Games, sports, and competition are Biblical. Remember the Bible often describes our Christian lives as a race (Acts 20:24, 2 Timothy 4:7, Hebrews 12:1). The apostle Paul points out that you only win when you play by the rules and discipline yourself by training (1 Corinthians 9:24-27). We wrote a whole chapter about this in our book Raising Real Menbut we agree with the old theologians – games can be a great way to learn skills and exercise our minds and bodies, if they’re done in the right attitude.

Ways to Make it Work

Recognize that older siblings and younger siblings may not appreciate how different they are. Depending on the child and the range of ages and development, you will have to coach your older, bigger, stronger kids to take it easy on the little siblings. Teenagers can’t react to their five-year-old brother like he was another teen. We made it a matter of honor for our boys to restrain their impulse to hit back when a little one hurt them. On the other hand, younger ones need to be reminded that bigger kids are bigger, and it’s not wise to treat them like they were elementary-age peers, either. The idea that “We’re all equals in the eyes of God and our parents,” is good, but you have to remember that equality of status and equality of value do not mean equal capability or strength!

“Compete against the clock and your own best time.” We found our boys of all ages like to race the clock on math worksheets. The fact that one is doing third-grade work for the first time, and older brother is doing the same practice sheets he did five years ago, doesn’t matter when each one is racing himself.

Give younger kids a handicap. Let the older kids start further back, or give the younger ones a head start. Or let the younger ones choose or answer first, so the older ones don’t jump ahead every turn. Even up the playing field a bit.

Create teams across the ages. This is really effective with board games. The oldest child is paired with the youngest, and the next oldest with the next youngest – for example, the 15-year-old with the 5-year-old, playing against the 12-year-old and 9-year-old. You can also make the rule that the older team member can’t touch the board; he has to talk with his younger teammate and persuade him to move the pieces or play the cards strategically. Often, the youngest children just want to move the pieces, anyway – it’s the older kids who get the grand design of the game!

Part 1 – [ Principles for Preventing Sibling Rivalry ]

Next Segment – Building Friendship Between Your Kids

 

Competition that's healthy, not harmful

Part 2 –

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