Last night, I posted about sibling fighting and some of the things that God has been teaching me about the heart issues involved. I do want to add, however, that I think that there is a time to instruct our children from the Bible and to plead with them to turn their hearts toward the Lord, and then there are other times when we just need to get through the day!
Here are some practical ideas for dealing with sibling conflict:
- Put a huge masking tape line down the middle of their room… Okay, maybe not! But, we do have times at our house where they just need to be separated for a while! Sometimes I assign them a spot in the house to be, and something to do while they’re there. We do most of our homeschooling at the kitchen table, but I have a small desk in my bedroom that I can send Aidan to if I need them separated.
- Keep them busy. A lot of our fighting tends to happen during free time. A good project that holds their interest (like mopping the kitchen floor with rags – they like to “work” in water, or picking up sticks in the yard) can cut down on the squabbling.
- Packing up problem toys for a while. Out of sight, out of mind…
- Holding practice sessions. Sometimes, I sit down on the floor and play with them for the sole purpose of training them in how to relate to each other. (Please do not ask for a toy that way. That sounded whiny. Try it again like this…)
And then there’s tattling. Tattling makes me crazy. We are working on teaching the boys to only tattle if someone is going to get hurt, or if someone is destroying something, but they are constantly trying to find a way around this rule. Tattling involves laziness (not wanting to take the time to work out a conflict with a sibling) and a desire for revenge (I’ll tell Mom this so that brother will get in trouble…). Lately we have been working with our oldest son on breaking the habit of “whine tattling” – it is much more acceptable to say, “Mom, I’m concerned that Owen might break my toy that he is playing with,” rather than to whine, “Mo-om! Owen has my toy AGAIN!”
The start of the new year is a great time to set goals as a family. I really want to see my boys grow in their ability to be each other’s friend in 2011. I have been telling them lately that we are a family! That means we are on the same team! We want to support each other, not compete with each other and tear each other down. There are plenty of people in the world who will be against them – they need to stick together as brothers!
Tell me – what are your ideas for eliminating tattling? I’d love to know!
Also, what other practical ideas do you have for minimizing sibling fighting?