Thursday, March 7, 2013

Sibling Rivalry and Unkindness

A couple of weeks ago, I asked for reader questions


"What would you do with a child who, for no apparent reason, dislikes her younger sibling?  My 5-year-old used to love playing with her 2-year-old brother, but ever since her baby sister was born 4 months ago, she has told me every day that she doesn't like her brother anymore.  The nonstop fighting is driving me bonkers!  I've tried making them hold hands or hug until they can be nice to each other, but the issue usually lies entirely with my daughter so why should my son be punished?" 

There are two parts to my answer.  The first part is simple.  I have no tolerance for unkindness between siblings or anyone, for that matter.  It can be a constant struggle, but I do not allow my children to speak ugly words to each other or physically harm each other.  It does happen-- the snatching, the pinching, the yelling and tears-- but it is not something I accept.  I have to deal with the violators every single time it happens and I'm often frustrated, breaking up squabbles all day long.

The second part of my answer is more complicated.  I don't believe that each one of my children must be best friends with every other one of his or her siblings.  Certain pairs of my children have more in common and have personalities that interact well together.  Naturally, those pairs find more to play together and do it with the fewest disagreements.   That's not to say that the children who are not alike are allowed to ignore each other or treat each other unfairly, but I don't force close friendships on them.  I also don't allow cliques in the house where two children play all day, every day to the exclusion of the rest, but I do protect those two children when a third child is butting in to spite them.  I also allow each child to have time alone if they wish to pursue their own interests (reading, playing paper dolls, building with Legos, drawing...) without a sibling butting in. 

Being the intercessor is hard, too.  Life as a mom is hard! We're responsible for raising loving, God-honoring people and yet we're often clueless as to how to go about it.  It comes down to the heart.  Does my child have a heart issue that needs to be addressed or am I expecting something I have no right to expect?   Bring it before the Lord and ask for His direction.  He never disappoints.


  1. I like your approach! My oldest daughter (five today) sometimes decides to be mean just because, and often to her younger brother. Whether it's hitting, pushing, toy taking or yelling, she can be something terrible. One other thing I do (in addition to what you said) is work with my children about what it means to love one another. We memorized Scripture about it, talk about loving our neighbors and who that means (our siblings and everyone else), and talk about we can show Jesus how much we love Him by showing love to others. Usually we talk about ways she can show her brothers love (and in turn Jesus) and she usually leaves the conversation excited to show love to them by sharing or some other thing. At least until the next time (sometimes within the hour!)

  2. Thank you for answering my question! My daugher's behavior is a work in progress and , but aren't we all?

  3. We address this issue much like you do. We have a no tolerance policy for unkindness towards siblings. It can get tricky wanting our children to always be best friends, but that just isn't reality.

    We try to create opportunities for them to have fun together to build relationships, but it is also completely natural that personalities and interests will make some siblings closer than others. That doesn't mean they don't love each other and stick up for each other though.

    I think that by forcing siblings to play together parents can actually cause resentment among their children. If I was forced to invite someone to my house over and over, it definitely wouldn't make me like that person more.

    There is certainly a balance between working to build common bonds and forcing children to play together. Thank goodness for God's guidance and grace for when we fail.

  4. This is such a good post...filled with Godly wisdom and grace. You will never, never be sorry that you taught your children to walk in kindness.

    It grieves me when I see children be allowed to speak unkindly to one another or to hit and smack one another. How can God's presence be felt in a home in which unkindness is allowed to rule?


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...