Sheri Wohlfert details 5 ways parents can help their children overcome sibling conflicts.
“Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9)
Sibling rivalry is as old as Cain and Abel, and I think that’s about how long parents have been trying to find the best way to deal with it. There can be some positive outcomes from sibling rivalries and conflicts: in fact, they are some of the earliest experiences we have in learning to compromise, negotiate, and problem-solve. But sometimes the rivalries can spin to a level of concern.
5 Strategies to Help Build Sibling BalanceCreate situations where siblings support and help each other. Helping with anything from sight words to shoe tying to throwing the perfect spiral gives siblings the chance to work together, share talents, and build empathy as they help each other go from struggle to success.
Celebrate instead of compare. Children need to know they are loved and appreciated for who they are. Comparing one child to another only intensifies the rivalry and creates division. It can be easy for children to think better grades or more home runs equal more love and approval. It’s important to celebrate accomplishments and achievements of all kinds, and siblings need to celebrate too. I’m sure my kids didn’t always enjoy going to each other's events but an occasional appearance at a sibling's event was a simple show of support that had a big impact.
God’s plan for families is to support and love each other. Creating an atmosphere where family is the most important thing will help balance rivalry. If you teach your kids that nothing is more important than family, it becomes easier to identify the things that can cause rivalry and undermine family unity. Conflict and rivalry is bound to be a part of family life but we have to teach our kids that family trumps everything.
”Lift ups” follow “put downs.” Sibling honesty often feels like a put-down so every time a sibling spits out a put-down, they need to offer a comment or action that lifts their sibling up.
Siblings are a gift. Children need to be taught that they are indeed their brother's keeper and they have a responsibility to pray for their siblings and desire their holiness. When rivalries intensify, taking time to help them look at their siblings through the eyes of the Father, recognizing how the gifts and talents God gave them can restore peace.
Copyright 2021 Sheri Wohlfert
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About the Author
Sheri is a Catholic wife, mom, speaker and teacher. She uses her great sense of humor and her deep faith to help others discover the joy of being a child of God. Her roots are in Kansas but her home is in Michigan. The mission of her ministry is to encourage others to look at the simple ways we can all find God doing amazing things smack dab in the middle of the laundry, ball games, farm chores and the hundred other things we manage to cram into a day. Sheri also writes at JoyfulWords.org.