Have you heard this quote by Theodore Roosevelt , “Comparison is the thief of joy.”
It’s true. Comparison steals joy and turns admiration into envy and jealousy. When we compare our kiddos to one-another we can do some damage.
Sibling rivalry is as old as time. It occurred in the very first family with Adam and Eve’s first two kids, Cain and Able. Able was murdered by Cain due to jealousy.
You may have even expressed these sentiments:
“My kids fight all the time!”
“I can’t stand the arguing.”
“I just want some peace.”
We want our kids to be friends not foes. It is every parent’s hope their children will be lifelong friends. Great parental grief is the result if they are not. And…the children will miss out on a life-long friendship with people who share the same history.
The reality is our kids will not get along perfectly. But we can do somethings that help squelch sibling rivalry.
- Avoid comparing your kids. Comparison kills joy and fosters competition. It is not helpful to compare your kids. Someone will always be on the “downside” of that. A situation framed like, “Your brother can….” is not helpful and is not motivational.
- Make your home a training ground rather than a battlefield. Stop being the referee. Be the coach. Train kids in effective conflict resolution techniques. Home is the best place to figure out how to deal with problems, disagreements, and issues. Teach your children how to express frustration without personally attacking another and how to own their own mistakes. Help your kids have a heart for other siblings by encouraging empathy (putting oneself in another’s shoes). The simplest and best way to encourage a good relationship is to act with kindness and respect.
- Appreciate and value each person’s strengths and uniqueness. Each child is gifted with positive character qualities. And each one has characteristics that need to be developed. Talk with each child privately about his or her strengths and weaknesses. Note times when you see improvement in the area of deficits and then speak encouragement your kids.
- Create family traditions so your kids will have some similar memories. Family unity through sharing rituals and traditions is one way to foster companionship. Sharing fun times and working together are times when companionship can be encouraged. Be creative and think of ways to cultivate family friendships (time together, shared memories, and shared experiences).
- Build empathy into the relationship.“I remember when you were Jacob’s age and you got into my stuff just like your little brother is getting into yours.” Kids love stories about when they were younger and a little bit of a rascal!
- Encourage a God dependence and perspective rather than value independence. Build a God-confidence.If our kids have a confidence in God and in his plan and purpose for their life, rivalry will dissipate. Ultimately, rivalry comes from buying into the human idea of success being related to power, prestige, personality, and/or possession. If our kids really understood they were created on purpose for a purpose by the Creator of the Universe, rivalry would disappear.
- Have your children pray with and for each other. This can spur on compassion, understanding, and love for each other.
We can have great influence on our kids’ relationship. If we avoid having a “favorite” and make efforts to build up each child so they feel secure, they will be less likely to be resentful of their sibling and a loving relationship is more likely to grow. Hurtful messages or unwise words can create a big relationship wound. How we speak to our kids and about our kids has a great impact on their heart and psyche.
My children will always be siblings, but I want more. I hope they will be lifelong friends. I can do my part not to rob them of a special sibling relationship by encouraging these 7 things in my family.
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
© LoriWildenberg. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Lori Wildenberg is a licensed parent and family educator, parent coach, and co-founder of 1Corinthians13 Parenting.com. She has written 6 books including Messy Journey: How Grace and Truth Offer the Prodigal a Way Home; The Messy Life of Parenting: Powerful and Practical Ways to Strengthen Family Connections; and her most recent book, Messy Hope: Help Your Child Overcome Anxiety, Depression, or Suicidal Ideation. Contact Lori for your next event or for parent consulting or parent training courses. Lori can also be found mentoring over at the MOMS Together Group on Facebook.