At our house, we struggle with sibling fighting. A lot. There are days when it seems that every word that comes out of everyone’s mouth is rude, selfish, or designed to provoke others.
“Look at this rifle I built!”
“That’s not a rifle. Rifles are longer. That looks like a pistol.”
“Well I made it a rifle.”
“No, you didn’t.”
“Get off the trampoline! It’s my turn!”
“You’ve had like fifty turns already. I’m staying on!”
“I’m telling Mom…”
And so on, until either the boys are hurting each other and yelling, or I am yelling at them!
Before Jonathan was born, a friend from church came over to look at our homeschooling, etc., since I was worried about adding a new baby to the mix and ever get anything done. She is a mother to four children who are all grown now (and they’ve all become such wonderful adults!), so I really value her input. One thing that she said was the character development needs to come first. It is more important that the boys learn to honor the Lord than get all their math work done.
Focusing on character is not always easy, especially since it means that Mom must demonstrate godly character! But our homes are so much more peaceful when we do things God’s way!
One tool that helped my friend’s family was the “Kindness Koala” – a little stuffed koala. She told her kids that they would take turns doing kind things for each other and leave the koala behind. For example, if one child made a sibling’s bed, they would leave the koala on the bed. Then, when the owner of the bed found the koala there, it was their turn to do something kind for someone else and leave the koala behind for them.
One day, the boys were bickering, and I decided that it was time to try the “Kindness Car” – our manly version of the koala. First, I sat them down and told them that we needed to end the destructive words and behavior in our home. The Bible says that it is not enough to simply “stop being rude” or “ignore the other person.”
Romans 12:17-21 says, “Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. ‘But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
The cycle of fighting won’t stop until someone starts actively choosing to be kind and put others first. Scripture makes it clear that when we are kind to those who are mistreating us, it brings shame to those who are doing the mistreating. Kindness can change the whole tone of a home.
I was very pleased with how the kindness car worked! The boys thought of things like taking each other’s plates out to the kitchen and letting each other go first with a toy, and they were genuinely having a good time. The kindness car would definitely lose effectiveness if used every day, but I thought that it was a great way to jump start kind actions as a replacement for rudeness and competition.
You can find some other thoughts about sibling fighting here and here.
Have the “summer squabbles” set in at your house yet? How do you handle it?
Danielle Jun 10, 2012
Love this idea! We need to practice kindness around here! Going to modify it and use with my kids.
Meggan Jun 10, 2012
Thank you so much for posting this! Not only did i find encouragement knowing that other families have the same struggles but also the perfect verse to share with my boys (i have 3). We will be trying this for sure!
sandy gardner Jun 11, 2012
hmmmmm...I'm thinking this might come in handy in a couple of years. The only exception, it would be a real car shared by two teenage drivers!
Sheila @ Pennies of Time May 16, 2013
Totally using this idea, Kindness Car and all, tomorrow. And the husband is going to use a version of in his Sunday School class. Thank you!
Jenny Spencer Sep 24, 2013
I LOVE this idea!!! Thank you so much for sharing!
Debbie Oct 30, 2013
Just wanted to let you know how impressed I am with your kindness car idea. I've borrowed your idea and adapted it for girls using a kindness doll. I was so impressed that I mentioned your idea and linked to it in a blog post. I loved your blog post highlighting your method so much I wanted to make sure and share with others who could benefit from your idea! Thanks!
Rene Dec 6, 2013
LOVE this idea! totally going to use the Kindness Car...thanks!
Jocelyn Nov 29, 2016
Thank you for taking the time to write these posts. Your teaching posts brought me to your website, but these Bible-based character posts are amazing and so helpful!!
chava kleinman Jul 23, 2020
lovely idea Sarah, Definitely going to try that!
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