Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. — 1 Thessalonians 5:15
“He’s picking on me!”
“Mom, she won’t share!”
“Get out of my room!”
“Dad, he always gets to go first!”
If you’re a parent to more than one child, you know that sibling rivalry and conflict can be a real problem. We can call it “rivalry” but in real life it may look like fighting, bickering, squabbling, teasing, and even outright bullying,
It is not always easy to be kind, especially when kindness is not shown to us.
My kids have different personalities and various ways they deal with conflict. One child shoves when they don’t get their way. The other raises his voice and waves a finger to emphasize his point while another plays the victim and insists the whole world is against them.
Romans 12:10 reminds us this is not the way we should handle trouble with others.
Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.
This doesn’t come easy. So how do we do encourage our kids to do what’s right when everything within us wants to let our emotions dictate their behavior?
Here are some simple steps that have helped our family resolve conflict in a healthy way:
Stop and take a deep breath. I often suggest my kids go into another room and take time to settle down. If squabbles happen when we need to be somewhere and we don’t have the luxury of time, I encourage them to grab a pen and paper and write down how they are feeling. Both scenarios allow us to discuss the issue when all parties involved are calm.
Once everyone is calm, that’s the right time talk about what happened and how it made them feel. This may come easier to some kids than others but it’s an important part of the process. When we understand others’ feelings, frustrations, and motivations we can see things from a different perspective.
Once children have empathized with one another they can take responsibility for their own actions and apologize, as well as find ways to prevent this type of conflict in the future.
The fourth book in the Faithgirlz Glimmer Girls series Light Up New York by Natalie Grant does an amazing job of reinforcing a healthy way to resolve sibling conflict.
LuLu and her twin sisters Mia and Maddie are in New York City with their family for the Rise and Shine charity concert where their mother Gloria Glimmer will be performing. The family is excited about the concert, exploring Manhattan, and solving a citywide mystery. But in the middle of it all, Lulu’s gets mad when her big sisters are offered an opportunity that doesn’t include her. That’s when the trouble begins.
Their mom reminds them “if you let your anger turn into bitterness it can take root and grow.” Despite wanting to forgive each other, tensions mount and feelings get hurt.
I won’t spoil the ending, however I will tell you that things work out for the Glimmer Girls as they always do. The story includes New York City facts, a zany adventure, and lessons on getting along, how to care for others, and why kindness matters.
I am excited for my girls to read this book. Not only will it let them know that conflict is normal but also remind them if they calm down and listen to each other they can solve whatever problem they encounter.
How do your kids deal with conflicts? What’s worked for you in helping them deal with their emotions? We’ve love to hear your thoughts in the comments!