Your child needs to know not only their own language but their siblings’. When a child is aware of their needs, it makes it a lot easier for them to get their need met in a healthy way. Say their language is quality time, and yet they haven’t invested any time in their family; they are going to feel disconnected. Love tanks aren’t something to just passively let others fill. We can intentionally put ourselves on the path to be filled up. They can be doing things that encourage their needs to be met. Many times when there is conflict in my home, it is because their tanks are low with each other. While it would be so much easier to just separate the two ‘offending siblings,’ what they REALLY need is connection. When I see this is an issue, I will ask the child what their brother’s love language is and ask what she can do to fill it and vice versa. The older they get, the more I solve sibling issues this way than anything else. Disconnected kids act out like kids starving for attention!
SIBLINGS’ LOVE TANKS
I have been overwhelmed with the goodness of God. The kind that makes you break out in worship and praise. The kind that makes little sense why your heart is so overjoyed and can’t be matched to any earthly circumstance. The kind that declares over and over, “You are so good.” The kind that brings tears to your eyes and makes you fall in love with Him more. I asked Him, “Why is my heart so overwhelmed with joy?” and heard Him say, “You are feeling how I feel about my children learning how to get along.”
SIBLING CONNECTION MATTERS TO THE FATHER BECAUSE HE DESIGNED SIBLINGS TO BE THE PLACE WHERE CHILDREN FEEL LIKE THEY BELONG. If there has been one common theme amongst our youth this past year, it is that they have been attacked in the area of belonging. The Father cares about their sense of belonging!
Whip up a batch of cookies as an after-school snack and sit with them, talking about their day for an extended period of time. Go deeper than the “How was your day?” You are giving them the gift of being seen and heard.
Get moving – nothing stirs up our natural endorphins like exercise. Pick them up from school, play some family basketball, kick the ball around, or play tag. Join the fun and play with them. You are giving them the gift of play which is critical for a child’s brain.
Joy – Find a pocket of joy today (simply doing something that ignites great joy). Jump on the bed, dance in the rain, have a wrestling match or tickle attack, or cook together. Joy increases the chemical in the brain to endure hard things. You are giving them the gift of hope.
Speak truth over them – remind them of who they are. Call out their identity. “You are my favorite,” “You are passionately loved and fiercely wanted,” “You are unique and special,” “You bring me joy.” You are giving them the gift of being valued.
Which one will you do today (for their heart and yours)?
Sibling conflict is God’s training ground. Use it for their good.
One day, Emma came to me all upset about something her brother did. I could tell she needed some help working it out, so I called Hudson to join us. The first question I asked him was, “Do you know why you are here?” and he immediately said, “Yeah, I am going to get disciplined.” He was making my job very easy! So, I asked him for what, and he said, “Being a boy!” Hmm. Apparently, he was taking his bow and arrow and shooting it in the living room, where the girls were watching a movie. I had to explain to Emma that he wasn’t doing anything wrong – that boys are like that and that it was just his way of playing. However, I then needed to explain to Hudson that while he did not do anything wrong, he failed to see WHY shooting a bow and arrow around the girls was upsetting to them. It made Emma feel threatened and unsafe to have the arrows whizzing by. It is so important, especially as children get older, that they don’t just see the rules but the heart behind them. The arrow was not the issue; Emma’s heart was. I want my children to be sensitive to the hearts around them, even if it means laying down what is fun and okay for them.
To teach your child about the powerful use of their tongue, go to a thrift store and buy a fancy but cheap plate. Spread out a sheet/blanket outside and as you raise that plate to the air and proceed to smash it to the ground, call out the words you hear your child speak. “I hate you,” “Leave me alone,” “You are stupid,” “I don’t like you,” “I don’t want to be your friend,” and then sincerely say, “Oh whoops, sorry!” and ask them to put the pieces back together again. They will be dumbfounded as they know it won’t be able to go back together again. Explain that our words can shatter a person’s identity and worth (it actually doesn’t change their worth, but one’s ability to receive and believe it). Even when we say sorry, the damage is already done.
The hard thing about a child’s heart is that it is small and empties quickly. The good thing about a child’s heart is that it is small and fills fast. Be intentional about filling them back up again today!
Do you have a son surrounded by sisters? If so, may I issue a word of caution? Boys play differently than girls. I probably need not tell you that. But when boys are outnumbered by girls and given the way girls are vocal about their displeasure, it is SUPER important we are not sending our sons the message that there is something wrong with being a boy! There has to be a balance of boys learning how to play and interact in a way that keeps others feeling safe. As well as teaching daughters that God is allowing them to learn how to interact with the opposite sex through her brother. We have had our own battle with this as four females surround Hudson. God warned me years ago about the indirect message that it is wrong to be a boy just because he is wired differently.
I heard a mom say, “Without sibling conflict, our family would be so peaceful. It is the main area that seems to bring such chaos.” What about your home? How is the peace level? Siblings are God’s built-in training ground for teaching children how to walk in the fruit of the Spirit so that they can be successful adults.
Have you ever seen a plant that just desperately needs a drink? My daughter looked that way to me, so I told the others to find something to do for 30 minutes while I had an in-home date with her. I told her to meet me in the rec room in 5 minutes. She had no idea what was happening but was waiting for me. I walked in, handed her a drink, and told her I just wanted her all to myself for a few moments. Then, I asked her about her heart, life, friends, and school. When we were done 15 minutes later, her comment was, “I feel so alive.”
Just because we are with our kids ALL the time doesn’t mean we have their hearts. Ask Holy Spirit how you can creatively water their heart today in a unique and meaningful way.
Testimony from a father. This is what it is all about! The best parenting in the world means little if it does not love big.
“My wife and I discovered today which love language each of our children gravitates toward & made an intentional effort to fill them. The results were immediate & noticeable! It was as if their cup was running over & they had extra to share. Really neat!”