Sibling Conflict: A Great Opportunity

This came from an email subscription I have. It is worth reading!

“When the bickering gets too bad I just go in my room and shut the door!” one mom said in exasperation. The fact is that many parents believe the solution to arguing and bickering is to allow children to “fight it out.”

That’s one solution parents commonly use when their children start fighting. Other parents separate the children and try to keep them apart in order to maintain peace. They imitate a referee at a boxing match, breaking up the conflict and sending the fighters to their opposite corners. Unfortunately, continually separating children doesn’t solve the problem. In fact, the children often come back again to fight some more.

We believe both of these solutions are inadequate because they lack the depth needed to bring about lasting change. When parents only separate the offenders or walk away, they miss valuable opportunities to help their children grow.

Conflict with brothers and sisters is a child’s first class in relationship school. Your home is the classroom, you are the teacher, and honor is the curriculum. Each conflict situation becomes an opportunity for teaching children how to get along.

When two children are fighting, call one out of the room and talk about how to deal with the conflict. Teach children how to confront, ignore, negotiate, compromise, talk about problems, and be peacemakers. Then send the child back into the situation to try again. If necessary, call the second child out and give helpful suggestions before trying again. Whatever you do, don’t try to discipline them together. Kids have an amazing way of deflecting discipline when they are together.

Be listening to your children’s interaction and continue to coach them in relationships. You may call the same child out of an activity five or ten times in an hour to continue to point out the change that needs to take place. Help children know what right actions are appropriate, and as long as they are willing to try to do the right thing, send them back into the situation to try again.

Use sibling conflict to teach about healthy relationships. It takes a lot of work but you’ll be preparing your children to deal with the difficult relationships they’ll encounter for the rest of their lives.

This parenting tip comes from the book, Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes In You and Your Kids by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN.

An Indirect Approach to Sibling Conflict

One great way to challenge the sibling conflict problems in a household is to play games with your children. Games are miniature scenarios about real life. Whether you’re playing a board game, a card game, or some kind of communication or role playing game, children have to use relational skills.

Playing games can teach children how to win, how to lose, how to show mercy, and how to talk humbly. As you play games with your children, model honor. Have fun and enjoy the game but avoid put downs, bragging, boasting, hurtful revenge, and meanness. That seems to be hard even for some parents these days.

Teach children how to win without being hurtful, how to lose without complaining, how to make a good move with humility, and show honor whether you’re winning or losing. Kids need to see these things modeled in games so they can learn how to handle similar situations in life.

Choose your comments wisely as you correct or confront others who may not handle themselves well. You may let some things go, but your comments are important and children learn from the things you say.

You may see selfishness and bad attitudes demonstrate themselves. Look for loving ways to correct while still enjoying the game. Play games regularly and continue to look for ways to communicate honor and challenge dishonoring behavior and words. You’ll be surprised at how much you can teach without your children even realizing they’re in a classroom.

This tip comes from the chapter on teaching siblings to honor in the book, Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes, In You and Your Kids by Dr Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN.