29 Jul, 2020 Sibling Rivalry: How to Foster Peace That Will Last!
by Lee Ann Mancini
The noise of rivalry can be worse than fingernails scraping down a chalkboard or two cats fighting in the middle of the night. What is more unpleasant than listening to children argue over anything and everything?
If this situation sounds familiar to you, sibling rivalry may be part of the problem. Do your children regularly compete for your attention? Do they feel unheard or misunderstood? Have you grown accustomed to the accusation, “That’s not fair!” or “You like her better than me!”?
Sibling conflict is unavoidable and to be expected in every family. It’s a part of growing up and learning how to express your independence—your likes, dislikes, and individual opinions. In modern times, I believe that sibling conflict has also been exacerbated by what children see and hear on television and other media outlets. Did you know that a popular video on YouTube titled “Most Disrespectful Kid on Xbox Live” has reached over 2 million views? In this video, a child screams profanity at the top of his lungs for several minutes. If I had to guess his age, I would say that he is less than ten years old! What do horrible videos like this teach our children about relationships? I was dismayed that YouTube would allow such disrespectful content on its platform, especially while censoring truthful Christian content!
Young children can be selfish by nature, and parents should take care that their children do not watch videos that will contribute to this problem. When arguments inevitably arise in the household, siblings who are selfish will have the most difficulty coming to a mutual agreement or a fair resolution of the conflict. How exactly can parents teach their young children to treat their siblings with respect and civility—even in times of disagreement?
- First and foremost, make sure you know what your children are viewing at all times. This is especially true with regard to what they see on the internet. Without supervision, children can all too easily be exposed to ungodly and unbiblical content online. Whenever your children need to search for information on the computer, have them use: https://www.kiddle.co. This is a safe visual search engine for children. For example, if you search the word “smoking,” you’re given the result, “Oops, try again!”
- Make sure your children understand that they need to respect certain boundaries within the family dynamic. Everyone in the family is entitled to their personal space, and everyone has a right to their own opinion. Give each of your children the opportunity to express their views freely. Spend individual time with each child. Help them to understand the importance of family. Explain that they will have their siblings in their lives longer than they will have you!
- Don’t always jump in the middle of an argument. This could make matters worse, especially if you have to choose one side over the other. Young children need to develop conflict resolution skills and learn how to negotiate. When possible, let them work things out on their own. Only intervene when the situation becomes too violent in words or actions.
- Above all, children want to be treated fairly. While it is true that not everything in life is fair, children should not be subjected to persistent injustice in the home. Do not ever show favoritism for one child over another.
- Children love to make comparisons with one another. Have you ever heard the complaint, “She got more than me”? Do your best to treat your children equally. Do not compare one of your children to the other unless the comparison is favorable. An appropriate example would be: “I like how you cleaned your room, just like your sister cleaned her room! You both did a really good job!”
- Foster an atmosphere of love and respect in the home by creating an understanding that everyone in the family is on the same team. Take time to bond with one another. Schedule a regular family game night or movie night. Above all, prioritize family activities that are face to face. “As neuroscientists have now established, human beings require input from organic, three-dimensional space in order to establish trusting relationships or maintain peace of mind.”
- Teach your children godly virtues, such as humility, empathy, justice, etc…. These are the foundation of every healthy relationship! Parents who want to teach godly virtues to their young children should check out the free content that I offer at SeaKidsTv.com!
Humility is the opposite of pride. Proverbs 16:18 says that pride comes before the fall. Meanwhile, Job 22:29 says that God brings down the proud and saves the humble. If children want to make friends, they need to have a humble spirit. The popular saying, “No one likes a bragger!”, is very true. My Christian children’s book, What A Bragger!, teaches children the value of humility. The main character frequently brags because she wants to fit in with the other children. In the end, she learns that her value is not determined by material possessions!
This is not to be confused with sympathy. People express sympathy by taking pity on someone else and feeling sorry for their situation. In contrast, people express empathy by actively imagining themselves in someone else’s position and showing kindness to them because they identify with their pain (Matthew 22:39). Babies can display empathy very soon after birth. They often will start to cry when they hear another baby cry (Romans 12:15).
Justice means upholding a fair standard. Children need to understand that they do not have to seek remedy or retribution for unjust deeds (Hebrews 10:30). Teach them that God is always just, even if His actions might not always seem to be fair. As an example, tell your children the parable about the workers in the field. The ones who did not work the full day were paid the same amount as those who did work the full day. God upholds justice for everyone, but He also shows mercy and grace to sinners.
Hang in There
During trying times, my mother-in-law would frequently remind me, “And this too shall pass.” One day, you will look back on the days you spent raising your children with fondness. The good times will easily come to mind, and the bad times will be long forgotten. Rest assured that sibling rivalries do not last forever. They will fade with time, and as your children grow into adults, they will form a unique bond that only siblings can share.
There is great truth to the adage, “Blood is thicker than water.” This is especially true for families of faith. In Christ, your children share an unbreakable bond that will hopefully one day transform their childhood rivalry into sibling harmony.
 Douglas Rushkoff, Team Human, 70.