One mom asked me to write about how to get siblings to love one another. Seems a basic requirement right? But we all know that just because it is basic, does not mean it is easy. No it is most definitely not easy.
Teaching your children to love one another is something that takes years of training, constant reminding, and consistent standards. Siblings are NOT ALLOWED to speak rudely to each other. Name calling, on any level is unacceptable. Bullying, meanness, hurtful attitudes, and assumptions have to be dealt with swiftly. It starts young and pretty much continues…forever. Standards and rules have to be set and maintained, punishments must be swift and consistent. If you only punish them one out of five times that they break the rules, you will never get anywhere, and then, you may wrongly assume that there is nothing that can be done when in reality you have not done enough.
But then on the flip side, there is not just training them NOT TO BE RUDE, but training them HOW TO BE KIND. Here, you have to check your own mouth and see how YOU are speaking to and about the children? Are you consistently encouraging? Are you loving? Are you treating them respectfully? Are you intentionally intimidating them or accidentally manipulating them? When you see an ugly character trait pop up in the house through your children, the first place to look – every time – is in the mirror. Because 9 out of 10 times, I have found that the one who taught them that tone of voice or saying was…well… it was me.
You must also remind children of the lifetime goal – that they would grow up and remain each other’s best friend. That they will need each other throughout their lives and that long after you and daddy have gone to be with Jesus, they would still choose to have Thanksgiving together. When Ryli and Bliss were 6 and 7, I thought they were going to kill each other. They fought and argued incessantly. One day I had HAD ENOUGH. So I tied their little wrists together with a silk scarf and ordered them to clean the playroom to perfection. They cried, they fought, they scratched each other and yelled, but after an hour of drama they finally got busy. Within another hour, the job was done, and they were laughing together so hard they were crying.
I won’t say that every day is perfectly peaceful around here, but overall our household is characterized by love. They all get along well. Some are closer than others. Some sisters are besties. Some brothers scrap more than others, but overall they hold the line and choose love. Your house can be the same. Just draw the boundaries, hold them to it, and get creative and corrective when they decide to test it.