It is spring- or almost spring in Colorado. It’s the time of year when we need to choose between boots or flips. Kids are getting restless, May, the month that rivals December for busyness, is right around the corner. Drivers are hurried and impatient. Our plates are full and frustration begins to grow.
Our kids feel it too. Perhaps the siblings have begun to pick at one another.
Do you feel frustrated with your kids’ bickering? Is their relationship what you had hoped? Do you want your kids to be best buds when they grow up? Of course! Most parents do.
Here’s the kicker…not all moms and dads are relationship builders. Sometimes we unknowingly, act more like relationship busters.
Instead God can us to help our kids build strong sibling relationships.
Build or Bust
Honestly examine your sibling building or busting tendencies with these five questions:
1. Do you compare your children? “Why aren’t you responsible like Brandon? Why don’t you behave like Emma? Your brother used the big potty when he was three.”
2. Do you allow constant conflict? “If there isn’t blood, work it out yourselves.”
3. Do you foster competition? “I bet you could run even faster than Sam if you practiced.”
4. Do you choose one over the other? “Cayden and I have a lot in common. We just click.”
5. Do you coddle one over the other? “Caitlin is having a bad day, she can’t help it that she behaved badly.”
The sibling relationship busters of comparison, constant conflict, competition, choice, and coddling pit siblings against each other.
5 Ways Parents Foster Strong Sibling Relationships
If you answered yes to any of the questions above, you can still change your ways. Here are some relationship builder approaches:
1. Appreciate each one’s uniqueness. “You have unique and special talents, just as your brother has unique and special talents.”
2. Give the kids tools to resolve conflict. Don’t allow them to fight dirty (name calling, physical actions). “Come up with a plan to handle this problem. Then run it by me and we can discuss it.”
3. Have the child compete against himself. “You can do better if you practice. I can help you come up with a plan to improve.”
4. Find a way to connect with all your kids. Perhaps allow them to teach you something.
5. Be fair in treatment. Don’t play favorites.
So…. how can a mom encourage her children to genuinely like each other? How can she build relationships and connections between siblings? She can intentionally create opportunities for kids to enjoy each other. Have the activities be viewed as special, doing things that are not normally done.
Here are are ten ways God can use parents to strengthen their children’s relationship with each other.
10 Actions that Strengthen Sibling Relationships
Have fun together: A slumber party in a common area.
Eat together: An indoor picnic.
Work together: Plant a garden.
Create together: Cook a meal, bake cookies.
Serve together: Join forces to help out a neighbor. (pick weeds or mow an elderly neighbor’s yard)
Delight in each other: Do a surprise act of kindness for a brother or sister. (make a bed, do a chore)
Demonstrate thoughtfulness. If you are out with one child and stop at DQ, think of the one at home and bring him a treat-let the sibling be the giver.
Encourage each other up: Designate a “Special Person” during dinner. Go around the table, stating PUT- UPS or affirmations for that individual.
Pray for each other: Before bedtime have prayer time.
Build memories: Make a scrapbooks of shared activities.
Be the coach and not the referee this spring. Guide and encourage your kids to be sibling friends. When you act as a relationship builder you will have the great pleasure of watching your young adults seek opportunities to enjoy one another’s company.
Have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.
1 Peter 1:22b
Contact Lori to schedule a speaking engagement or a parenting workshop.
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash