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Taming the Tiger
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Child [A] begins yelling angrily, “He started it!” Child [B] starts grabbing at his brother, “Did not!”

If this scenario sounds all too familiar the following tips may help you in dealing with sibling rivalry in your home.

As far as possible, let each child have his own physical space. If siblings must share bedrooms, improvise some sort of divider so they clearly know where their space ends and the other person’s begins. Enforce the “ask permission” rule where children must ask and receive the owner’s approval to be in his space or borrow his things.

Encourage each child to have an interest of his own in which he can excel. If big brother Johnny studies the violin, encourage Joey to play the trumpet, guitar, or whatever instrument interests him. If sister Suzy is a soccer star, sign Sarah up for swimming, tennis, etc. This will help to minimize the competition between siblings.

Resist the temptation to compare. What comes easily for one child (like a straight A report card) may be impossible for another to achieve. Recognize and affirm the value of each child for who s/he is – a blessing from God.

Sharing Together

Choose an activity that all the children in the home can enjoy and capitalize on it. For our family, that has been building with LEGOs while listening to recordings of dramatized stories. Our children have passed many pleasant hours together, happily constructing huge castles and mansions and equipping all the rooms with furniture and accessories. When they finish a project we take pictures for the family photo album.

If, despite all your efforts, your offspring persist in squabbling, tell them that from now on whenever there is conflict each child will have to be alone. Instead of trying to figure out “whose fault it is” send them all to separate rooms where they must stay until they are ready to get along with others. If you do this consistently they will tire of isolation and try harder to keep the peace.

“How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity” (Psalm 133:1).

When brothers and sisters develop strong ties as they are growing up they can support each other in difficult times and enjoy the blessing of life-long friendships. 

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By Brenda Dickerson. Copyright © 2015 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®.

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