Raising Siblings Without Rivalry – Part 3 – MBFLP 253-3

Part 3 – Building Friendship Between Your Children

We want our kids to be friends and allies, not rivals and opponents, but that takes some conscious effort. As parents, we can make both the positive and negative efforts to build friendship and avoid tearing it down. How can we prevent harsh feelings between our kids? And better, how can we promote affection and goodwill toward siblings?

Practical Ideas

Remember your kids learn from your example – all the time. If you want to raise kids who are kind, you need to live and speak in kindness at home. They are always watching, even when you don’t think you’re teaching and when they don’t realize they’re learning.

Do your kids really believe there’s justice in your family? Unfair treatment from a parent might be favoritism toward one child – the only girl in a family of boys, the “baby” of the family, or anyone singled out (think about Joseph in the Bible!). It can also be one child who gets blamed for everything – the one who’s “the usual suspect” in every situation. One way we provoke our children (Colossians 3:21) is by jumping to conclusions when there’s trouble between the kids – dig deeper and be sure you’ve dealt with both the reaction and the cause!

Protect their dignity in front of their siblings. We made a point, as much as possible, to correct or discipline children privately, not in front of the family. Don’t give ammunition for teasing, or reason for a child to feel defensive and wary around the family.

Encourage acts of service for siblings – look for ways they can bless one another. Whether it’s offered as an apology for past bad behavior, or an expression of love and kindness just because, cultivate a spirit of thoughtfulness between the kids.

Help them understand and look for others’ point of view.  Some kids are thoughtless about how their behavior hurts or offends others. On the other hand, some kids are quick to assume the worst and take offense where none was given. Teach them that intentions are important, but perception and reception are important too and sometimes a bigger problem than the intention!

Suggest activities they’ll want to do together – on the condition they do them togetherBake cookies, provide projects they cooperate on, look for shared experiences and adventures. Shared memories are the ties that draw them together in later life. Often it’s the smaller things

Passages We Referenced

 

She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness. – Proverbs 31:26

And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another … – Ephesians 4:32

… be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. – 1 Timothy 4:12

1 Corinthians 13:1-8 – what love is, and is not

The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, and his glory is to overlook a transgression. – Proverbs 19:11

Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. – Colossians 3:21 (also Ephesians 6:4)

 

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Part 1 – [ Principles for Preventing Sibling Rivalry ]

Part 2 – [ Making Competition Helpful, Not Hurtful ]

Part 3 –

 

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 –

Raising Siblings Without Rivalry – Part 1 – MBFLP 253-1

Dealing with sibling rivalry

One of the questions we hear most often is, “How do you deal with sibling rivalry?” 

We had eight children, and six boys in a row, so we had plenty of competition and challenge to work with! A certain amount is normal and can be accommodated even within the family, but it has to be guided and supervised to keep it from becoming bullying or persecution.

Girls have their own temptations too, especially in emotional and relationship areas; we’ve known women who grew up as “mean girls” in their own family, and struggled with broken relationships decades after they left home.

We didn’t want that in our own family – we wanted our children to grow up to be friends – so we tried to take positive steps to build and protect relationships between our kids. And like Tedd Tripp says, we trained behaviors in the youngest, in the process of teaching the hearts and attitudes of all!

Principles for Preventing Sibling Rivalry

Home Should Be Safe – Nobody should feel like they have to keep their guard up when they cross the family threshold. That goes for spouses, too.

Zero Tolerance for Bullying – or Provoking – Bigger kids can tyrannize young kids, but younger kids can cause lots of trouble for older siblings, too. Proverbs 6:16 says God hates one who causes discord among brothers – so bickering and arguing are important, not just kid stuff.

See the Family as A Team – You won’t score together, if you are fighting one another instead of your enemy or opponent. Encourage your kids to pull together and support each other, especially in front of the rest of the world.

Enjoy Teasing and Wrestling but Don’t Cross the Line! – It’s fun until it’s not, for somebody. If you continue after someone calls “stop” then you’ve become a bully – see “zero tolerance” above.

Recognize How Different Your Kids May Be – and Keep an Eye on Them – Some kids can tolerate teasing and rough-housing, and some can’t. Don’t let either set the tone for everybody, but guide their interaction to head off offenses and hurts. That also goes for the child who’s quick to take offense — that’s no help either.

Raising kids without rivalry at home

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This week we’re trying a new format – three shorter episodes on the same topic! Look for parts 2 and 3 later this week and let us know what you think

And if you have suggestions, questions, or requests, leave us a message on our Listener Response Line – (919) 295-0321

Next Segment – Making Competition Helpful, not Hurtful

 

 

Raising Kids to Love Their Siblings – MBFLP 240

Is sibling rivalry just something to expect? Is it a foregone conclusion that our kids are going to be simmering with jealousy, rivalry, and unkindness toward one another? Or is there a way to promote friendship and affection between brothers and sisters? We have eight kids, and while they’ve had their moments of conflict, we’ve been blessed to see them grow in genuine love as they’ve matured. How can we foster this sort of relationship in the home?

TRAPS TO AVOID

We know families where the sibling relationships are so broken, some aren’t talking decades after the original hurt feelings. Our college students have remarked how many of their classmates are uninterested in going home for holidays or breaks. Where does the breakdown begin? More importantly, what can we avoid or correct, to preserve and promote better relationships?

  • Bullying or provoking behavior – they’re two forms of the same problem
  • Name calling – and when nicknames are and aren’t cool
  • A culture of sarcasm and irony
  • Battle of the sexes – don’t even start
  • Favoritism – it didn’t end well for Joseph nor Isaac

POSITIVE TRAITS TO PROMOTE

On the other hand, there are many things we can do to cultivate a better sort of family culture.

  • Teach them how to be friends
  • Praise and reward good behavior
  • Make family harmony a matter of honor
  • Provide opportunities to be friends
  • Build memories together
  • Share emotions – rejoice with them that rejoice
  • Cultivate respect – starting with husband and wife of each other, then parent/child and siblings

Remember, and teach your kids, that when the Bible speaks about love, it involves knowing the other person, and choosing to behave in a considerate and kindly manner to them. It’s an active choice, not just a feeling! And that means that we can hold that as a standard of behavior … and know it’s something we can actually do. Trust that when our actions are right, the feelings tend to follow!

UPCOMING EVENTS

February 27-29 – “Teach Them Diligently” Homeschool Convention – Nashville, TN

March 13-14 – LeaderLife Conference (Home Education Association of Virginia) – Williamsburg, VA

MBFLP – Helping Siblings Love Each Other

Helping Siblings Love Each Other

Is sibling rivalry an issue at your house? The Bible often speaks of love among brothers – it’s used as an example of how we should get along in the church, for instance. Yet that image doesn’t have much meaning if our relationship with our earthly brothers is marked by anger, resentment, and hurt feelings, does it? And too often, that’s the kind of relationship which seems to be growing in our families.

This episode, we talk about some practical things we’ve discovered that help our kids grow in trust and appreciation of each other. We’re finding these ideas have wider application to other relationships, too, and we talk about that aspect as well!