Summer is coming and for most that means the KIDS ARE HOME! Which is awesome, but if you are a mother of more then one child, you also know that means everyone is going to be together a whole lot more each day, which also means sibling love is key for your sanity!
Some siblings gel just fine, but there will always be ones that don’t, or times when you want to pull your hair out if you hear one more argument or put down. By the time you arrive at your summer vacation destination you don’t want to feel like you need a vacation just from your kids because the road trip felt like a disaster of consistent argumentation!
Summer is suppose to be fun, a break, a time to get close as a family… so, how to?
I’m no pro at parenting, but being one of four siblings myself, and having eight kiddos in our household, I’ve thought more then just a little bit about this subject. When baby #2 arrived on the scene, it didn’t take long for me to realize the great importance of having a strategy in this area!
Here’s to promoting happy homes and sibling love for your sanity this summer:
1. Cut out tattling over little issues. One thing I tell my kids, “Don’t tell on someone unless someone is about to die!” Ok, a bit exaggerated, but the idea is to let them know it better be really good or important if they’re gonna tell on another sibling. Clarify with your children when a time IS to tell, and explain to them how you won’t be listening to the little tattles or allowing them.
2 Encourage individuality and never openly compare. This is a huge one. Where there is jealousy and comparison between siblings, you’ve got a fight on your hands – sometimes for life. Positively promote peace by not publicly contrasting your children. This breeds contempt that eventually will erupt in not-so-positive ways.
3. Identify positive traits in all of your children and address privately how much you love their individuality. Publicly let them know how each of their unique personalities are enjoyable to you, “I love that each of you are unique and not the same! That makes are family so fun!” This will teach each one to take healthy pride in their individuality, giving less room for jealousy and comparison.
4. Never allow bullying within the home from one sibling to the other. Never. Not even with little hints of put downs, or be-littlement. I tell my children, “Out there in the world, or at school, people are gonna put you down, but our home is a safe place, so don’t you go and make this an unsafe place for your brother or sister! We all work together to make this a safe place.” Be the example so they will follow. If you put down others or a spouse in front of them, children follow the lead. Soon everyone is putting down everyone else and your home becomes a war zone, not a safe haven.
5. Address any negative talk instantly and seriously. Teach your children to encourage each other like they are their own sports team! “Way to go!” and “That was awesome!” It’s amazing how if you will teach your children to verbally praise, how in time they will learn to love each other!
6. Encourage compassion towards one another. If one accidentally hurts the other (and if you have little boys you know what I’m talking about! Everything is an “accident!”) I make them stop and work it out. At a young age I teach them to ask, “Are you ok?” and “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to.”
7. Help them fight the right way – teach them to be agreeable in their disagreements. When they begin to fight over a difference of opinion, I join in and say, “Hey y’all, it’s okay to think differently. That’s what makes the world go ’round. I’m glad you both have your own opinion. Now, let’s respect each other, okay?” Now that I have three teen boys, I continue to interject and remind them that varying opinions is GOOD, not bad, and we all have a right to have our own and should respect the other.
8. Don’t let objects take priority over people, then they won’t fight over stuff. They follow parental lead by watching our reactions towards our own things when they are broken or taken. If you have young children and it’s a toy that they are fighting over, I take my clock and say, “Ok, Brighton, you get the object for five minutes and when the time is up, you must give it to Lake no matter what or you may not play with that object…” Teach from a young age to respect other children by sharing, or asking politely for an object.
9. Allow children to have private time and space so that siblings learn to respect space. Some kids just need space to re-group. Teach your children to respect this and show them how. Teach children to voice kindly when they need space. This has been huge in promoting healthy relationships between my children who are very different from each other. Explain that the need for space is not “rejection” but a unique trait to some and should be respected.
10. Communicate what true love is and how God loves us unconditionally, and thus we spread that love and let it fill our homes. When my children ask “why” about something I tell them why – never, “I told you so.” If they ask, “Why do I have to share?” I say, “Because sharing is loving and if you don’t learn to love you destroy every relationship you have in your life. That is why I am helping you learn to love now while you are young.” Explain why what we do is for the sake of love, which is the best thing we can give and possess.
11. Realize sibling love takes time, consistent guidance of parents, and will reap wonderful benefits for them in the future! Don’t give up and keep at it, Mama! I promise you will be so glad you did, and so will they.
For Hannah Kate