Ah, sibling fighting… One of my least favorite parts of parenting! Lately, it seems like every word out of my boys’ mouths is rude. We have had everything from the standard fighting over toys and fighting over turns to bossing and parenting each other to showing NO grace for the most minor infractions.
It’s enough to make a mom crazy!
Unfortunately, I don’t have a magic cure for sibling fighting to offer you. But I do want to share something that we did this week to help make God’s Word applicable to all of our lives, even mom, because sometimes I respond to their rudeness with more rudeness and impatience!
First, though, let me say that when it comes to conflict, there are two areas to address. The first is to deal with the situation from a practical standpoint. We need to manage our kids’ behavior. This may involve sending children to separate locations for a while or removing toys that have become a continual problem. But it shouldn’t stop there, because the second area that we need to address is the heart! As moms, we can’t change our children’s hearts – that is the work of the Lord. But we must be diligent to present the Bible to them in appealing ways that show how much we value what God has to say. There are many verses that deal with conflict, so you can keep it fresh even though this issue will come up over and over and over!
Here’s what we did this week:
We have been focusing on Proverbs 12:18, which says, “There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
Isn’t God so amazing to give us words that little boys can relate to? What a word picture! It’s easy to see how an uncontrolled tongue has the same result as sword thrusts. In Scripture, we often see the principle of putting off something, and putting on something instead. It’s not enough to say, “Stop being rude.” We need to replace rude with words that bring healing!
Principle: If you have said something rude to one of your siblings, you need to add words of healing by speaking kindly or doing something to serve that sibling.
This idea came to me while I was out to eat with all four boys, and one of them spilled a drink. It was an accident, but a brother spouted off an ugly comment without thinking. I asked that brother to get out of his chair and say to the one who had spilled, “Here let me help you clean that up.” It took 3 tries to say it with the words that I had asked him to use, and with a kind spirit, but he did it! And then I asked him to get paper towels and serve his brother by cleaning up the mess. It was amazing to see how that act of service (even though it began as unwilling service) softened the attitudes of all of the boys.
We made a chart to help us see how this concept should look day to day. Here are some examples:
Thrusts of a sword: “I can build a better Lego fort than that!”
Tongue of the wise: “That’s a cool fort! You did a good job!”
Thrusts of a sword: “Give me that! You can’t use it because it’s mine!”
Tongue of the wise: Say nothing and allow the other person to enjoy the toy (unless, of course, they are too young for it or are breaking it). Sometimes, the tongue of the wise is silent!
Thrusts of a sword: “Stop it, you dummy!”
Tongue of the wise: “Please don’t hit me with that.” (And then going to mom for help if the hitting continues, rather than getting angry.)
Satan would love for us to believe that those sassy comments we want to say will make us feel better, but it’s a lie. The tongue of the wise truly does bring healing! We put a few entries on our chart, and then we have thought of more as the week has gone on and ugly words have presented themselves. Focusing on replacing the rude with words that are kind has made a definite difference at our house. I have no doubt, however, that we’ll be back in a cycle of fighting before long at all, and then we’ll be back in the Scripture again!
For more on sibling conflict:
Biblical Boyhood: Brothers as Friends
Sibling Squabbles and the Kindness Car (another idea for encouraging service)
Sibling Fighting – Selfish desires as the root
Andrea @ No Doubt Learning May 16, 2013
Came across your blog on Pinterest and love your tagline. Even though my girls ARE content to sit around and color all day, this post is much appreciated! :)
val May 16, 2013
I really appreciate the time you are taking to not only raise your boys in the Word, but to share with such wisdom what you are and have learned. My daughter in law will appreciate any help and I appreciate Godly help!
Jessica Paulina Nicolas May 16, 2013
God is Good!
I've been having one heck of a week with my boys. They're driving me insane! I went to church today so discouraged and upset because I feel like I can't get my boys under control. I'm glad I found this, and I will begin to apply this at home! Thanks!
Meaghan May 17, 2013
What a great idea! I've been trying to work on this area with my boys. Thank you for this practical and biblical approach
michele May 17, 2013
This is exactly what we need with my 2 boys, and my best friends 3 boy we are always dealing with rudeness and this post came at the right time I have been at my wits end with them thank you for posting this
Marsha May 17, 2013
Set this up this morning! The boys seem to be enjoying it. It is a non-threatening way to address their speech. Thanks for the great idea.
Sarah May 17, 2013
Thanks for letting me know! I'm glad it's helping!
lisa May 17, 2013
Thank you, thank you I really needed this today! Love your blog to help guide me raise my 2 boys ages 6 and 4.
Alyssa May 20, 2013
As a mom of 4 boys(& 1 sweet baby girl!) we have been dealing with a lot of sibling fighting, rudeness, name calling and bossiness. This post is going to be a great help, thank you!!
Tamsyn May 22, 2013
God truly is amazing. Not only has he given you this wisdom to share with the world, but he has brought you to me at a time I need you most. Thank you!
Vanessa May 22, 2013
I homeschool my two kids and have one on the way. So the fighting between each other and rude words are getting to me rather quickly these days. Thank you so much for a great Godly advice I will be using with my two kids! Thank you!
April Jun 4, 2013
I have a 14 year old getting his PhD in sarcasm... this will be a nice reality check for him.
Stephanie Jun 7, 2013
I just made a duplicate of this, then shared with my children. Couldn't believe their level of understanding what it truly means to use healing words instead of harsh words! Hanging it now!! Thanks!!
Callie Jun 18, 2013
Thank you, thank you, thank you! Great thoughts!
evy Jul 3, 2013
...my kids are older now, but something that I noticed that was SO vital to kids' lives too is that boredom usually sparks much conflict amongst the children (well, that word did NOT exist in our vocabulary and anyone who thought they were bored soon figured out it was far better to UNboredom themselves quickly because mom helping them with boredom brought on work in a way that would teach them "boredom" was not ok!). Once boredom arrives the kids will bicker, squabble and torment one another into oblivion... and there is NO peace and harmony in that!
Thanking the Lord that we can go to Him and His Word for ALL wisdom,
Sarah Jul 3, 2013
Yes, that is DEFINITELY true! I like your idea of having a plan in place for people who are "bored." We might need to try something like that here, as there is a huge temptation to start pestering when there is "nothing" to do!
Lisa L. Jul 3, 2013
Thank you for this post! I am going to use this wisdom with my kiddos for sure. Do you have any good passages for addressing hitting and lashing out?
Sarah Jul 3, 2013
Hi, thanks for your comment! Romans 12:17-21 is really clear that revenge is wrong. How old is your child? For a younger one, I would read the actual scripture, but then also paraphrase the main points: God is the one who punishes someone who does wrong. We are to respond to a mean action with kindness. And that is something that we can't do on our own - we need Christ! God will give us the ability to obey that very difficult command if we ask Him!
Dottie Jul 16, 2013
I can't wait to use this devotion with my 7 yr old son and 3 yr old daughter! It's been a long hard summer! This sounds like exactly what I need to explain being nice to each other. I feel like I have tried everything down to the get along shirt. Thank you so much! I found you on Pinterest. Keep the uplifting posts coming!
Gloria Moore Aug 1, 2013
I loved seeing your blog. I have 3 sons but the two older were the ones that fought all the time. I would have them sit and hug each other for 5 minutes. Within 2 minutes they had forgotten what they were fighting about and would be rolling on the floor laughing.
Grandma Oct 9, 2013
Unfortunately, my precious grandsons are learning to be rude from their mother! It is very painful to watch!
Gracie Oct 18, 2013
Just found your blog through pinterest...and already really appreciate it! Thank you so much for the encouragement!
Alana Jan 19, 2014
What a great idea! My three girls could really use this. I love the scriptural references and activity for the girls to do to reinforce it. Thank you!
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Meagan Jan 21, 2021
Thanks so much for taking your time and putting forth so much effort into this! I am having these problems with my boys. I am hoping this will help.
Carol Jan 31, 2021
Thank you for this message! I am going to use it today for our Bible Lesson. It is such a valuable lesson! Thank you for sharing it with us!
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