Restoring Order in the Midst of Rivalry
Of course, as I have said before, sibling rivalry is part of our human nature. You’ve been a parent long enough to debunk the myth that many pre-parents believe – that a “good” parent should be able to raise a well behaved kid who doesn’t fight with their sibling. (Earth to innocent, come in) Unless someone is keeping a big secret, all kids (even the best of them) fight with their siblings. So as you institute the aforementioned tips, Keeping Sibling Rivalry to a Minimum, this last blog entry in this series has some suggestions of what to do when the kids still end up driving each other crazy.
You might be asking, “Why in the world didn’t you give us this RX for sibling rivalry first?” Well, I actually have a strategy. You see, here at Family Matters, Tim and I are committed to changing a person’s heart and head, not just their behavior. We don’t see ourselves as the Wikipedia of parenting skills, with the easy, quick fixes. We don’t want to put band aids on something that may require surgery. Rather, we want to show our friends how to incorporate grace and true greatness into their everyday lives and the lives of their family. So the previous Keeping Sibling Rivalry to a Minimum tips were offered to give you a frame of mind and heart to prevent sibling rivalry.
So now you are asking, “OK, so what if even after I start to follow the 8 tips for Keeping Sibling Rivalry to a Minimum, my kids still fight and struggle with sibling rivalry”? Well, the question is not if, but when (I am pretty sure the only family that is free of sibling rivalry in some form lives in heaven). So as you are working at turning the ship of sibling rivalry around in your household, here are some suggestions for restoring order when sibling rivalry pulls a mutiny.
1. First and foremost, never reward this behavior.
Make sure there is a negative outcome for your children every time they speak or act dishonorably to each other. There are some things that kids know not to do because they have experienced a negative outcome every time (hands on the stove, slamming their fingers in the door, etc.) and sibling rivalry should be on that list. Calling each other names, hitting, yelling, bullying is never to be tolerated. I.e. I am lactose intolerant and I know that as wonderful as that ice cream or pizza will taste, I will pay for it later and it is just not worth it. Make your kids “sibling rivalry intolerant” and let them learn to avoid it in order to avoid the consequences.
2. Don’t put yourself in the middle of these arguments or fights.
You end up being the loser and bearing the brunt of the tension and bother when you jump in there to referee. Make the kids work things out and don’t let them move on to a pleasant activity until they have stopped their fighting, apologized, and expressed their feelings in a civil way. If they don’t do this, then isolate them (that means, no phone, computer, TV, etc.) No fun, period, until they work things out themselves.
3. Distraction is the best way to prevent a testy situation from blowing up.
You know what the triggers are and what sets your kids off. When you see the perfect storm accumulating on the horizon, re steer the ship. Separate the kids; get them going on a project; send one outside and the other upstairs. Get their energies directed in another positive way and chances are they will forget what was bugging them.
4. Make sure fatigue, improper nutrition and outside stimuli are not overwhelming your child to the point that even a good natured kid is not him/herself.
This takes a hands-on parent who is not distracted with their own activities and problems. Keep your act together by staying rested and abiding in faith, so that you can tune into your kids struggles and be there to help.
5. Pray, pray, pray.
Ask God to give you patience and wisdom and soften your kids’ hearts to each other and to God. If prayer can move a mountain, it most certainly can keep kids from fighting with each other and driving you nuts with sibling rivalry.
Now the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law—Galatians 5:22.
Written by Darcy Kimmel
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