Do you find your children competing with one another? I’m not talking about brothers wrestling, I am talking about heart attitudes. What are your children’s heart attitudes towards learning from one another?
I firmly believe that it is our job to be teaching our children that they are developing life long relationships with their siblings. When we have conflict in our home between siblings, if it is more than a misunderstanding or an accident, I usually wait and watch the children try to work things out on their own (at least the older children). However, I pay close attention to hearts as I listen to the “tone of voice” being used, the body language being used, the conflict strategies being used, and their attitudes being reflected towards one another.
Then I engage in the conflict if the children are using intimidation, manipulation, interrogation, or aloof judgment. I separate the child and try to teach self-control over their dominant conflict strategy. Then I go and teach the other children how to help one another not trigger those responses in each other. Really it is basic conflict resolution strategies and communication.
Conflict is an opportunity for teaching and equipping. We want to equip our children how to productively deal with conflict.
I believe strongly that now, while they are in our homes, they are developing life long relationships. Either they are developing relationships of respect for ones differences and appreciating those, or they are growing apart from each other by the way they treat one another. I remind my children, that the relationships that they build now, last a lifetime. That if they want to have close relationships with their brothers and sisters now, they need to try to. Try to respect, value and appreciate one another. Other wise they will grow up like most families… where when old, they see one another at holidays. I don’t want that for my children.
I dream of them being one another’s closest friends. They are there for each other through hard times walking through it together, and through joyful times, celebrating together… non competitively. But this type of family atmosphere and vision doesn’t just happen, I share it with them and warn them to be kind and careful not to take one another for granted.