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Do your children squabble for attention or talk over one another to be heard? Always try to “one-up” each other? Battles between siblings can be so tiring for parents. Sarah Hamaker recently published a book titled Ending Sibling Rivalry: Moving Your Kids From War to Peace, and I invited her to share with us about the issue of sibling rivalry and the value of teaching our children about getting along.
The Importance of Getting Along
by Sarah Hamaker
If you say that you have three, four, five or more children, most people react with sympathy. As the mother, you must be so tired, frazzled, anxious and overwhelmed is the implied—or spoken—reaction. What that reaction shows is just how far we’ve changed as a society in viewing child-rearing. We’ve come to the point where raising children is so hard, so difficult, so time- and money-consuming that the fewer kids we have, the easier things will be for everyone.
That’s especially true when it comes to family harmony. As a mother of four elementary-school age children, I’ve had strangers, acquaintances, friends and occasionally even relatives posit that my house must be pure chaos all of the time. The underlying implication is that the children snipe, shout, and slap each other all day long in one unending fight for dominance or attention within the family unit.
Most of us never look at our kids when they fight and see an opportunity for personal growth. We don’t view tussles between their kids as anything but disruptive and damaging to them and the family. But teaching siblings the proper and biblical way to handle conflict can restore peace to our homes and set our kids on the path to relationship success both in and out of the family.
How we go about this must be deliberate, though. Children won’t magically learn how to resolve conflict in a way that benefits both parties involved. We must give them the tools and training so that they can successfully prevent and settle conflict between themselves. Why is this so important? Here are some reasons.
Our siblings will be with us for longer than nearly anyone else in our lives, so setting the foundation for a friendship that outlives the proximity of residing in the same home is vital.
Our brothers and sisters provide a hands-on opportunity for us to learn how to effectively resolve conflict. There’s not a better setting for figuring out the give-and-take of life than in a family with multiple kids.
A preserving spirit.
Our siblings push us to our limits—and often cajole us to heights we didn’t know we were capable of attaining. Yes, they can be annoying, but brothers and sisters also can be the ones who press us to keep going when we want to quit.
All about me.
Our brothers and sisters help us to not always focus on ourselves, but to remember there are others. This is one of the best antidotes to selfishness, the fact that you might have to share a room, a bed, and a house with someone not of your choosing.
Our siblings also teach us to live life by sharing, not hoarding. Our brothers and sisters don’t let us get away with keeping everything to ourselves, and that’s a positive thing.
Sibling conflict is the first class a child receives in relationship training. If we as parents recognize and embrace that, if we consciously help our children to honor and serve others, then sibling interactions will change for the better. While no family will ever be entirely free from conflict, we can have a fairly calm home that has no sibling rivalry.
As a certified Leadership Parenting Coach™, Sarah Hamaker guides parents in identifying, discussing and correcting bad parenting habits. Sarah blogs about parenting on her website, www.parentcoachnova.com, and is a frequent writer on parenting issues for Crosswalk.com. She’s also one of the featured parent coaches on www.parentguru.com. Her book Ending Sibling Rivalry: Moving Your Kids From War to Peace (Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City) is in stores now.