Is sibling conflict breaking out in your home? It did in our house, and I AM SO GLAD! I am keeping our days moving by having a balance of rest, school, and movement. I got two of them settled on a project and took another for a brisk walk with the dog. While coming back inside the house, I could FEEL strife and knew there was conflict. My daughter came to me sobbing, telling me how she was mean to her sister and pushed her. Her tears were massive, and she was fully repentant, confessing her wrongdoings. I told her she was indeed wrong and that a consequence was appropriate, but that life was pretty hard these days, and I wanted her to spend an hour in her room alone processing and giving her heart a voice to herself. She is my easy-going, always smiling, glass-is-half-full child, and her heart needed to get real – life IS challenging right now. I moved to the other child involved, who flashed this massive smile across her face as I approached her. She did not know that I knew about the conflict. I asked how she was doing, and she said, “Great.” I said, “Really? How can you be doing great if your sister just pushed you?” and she burst into tears. I instructed her too to go into her room and spend an hour giving her heart a voice. She not only lied to me but herself. I went to her after a bit, and she began to unpack how her sister doesn’t like her and has been rude and disrespectful to her for days and that her heart was hurting. I went back to the offending child and asked what was going on, and she, too, broke down, telling of pains and hurts that have been piling up between them.
We were away from home, and the kids were all getting in a funk; lots of small conflicts, attitudes, and agitations. Having to correct them constantly gets old, so I flipped the situation by turning it into a game. I gathered them together in a circle and asked them to keep their mouths closed, but they had to have eye contact with someone else at all times. I wanted them to SEE the people around them. Then I held up a mirror and said, “This is who you have been focused on, but I want you to keep your eyes on someone else.” When we went to breakfast, they tried to outdo each other by showing kindness and love to others. They were opening doors, putting garbage away, smiling, saying “thank you,” letting others go first, etc. The Kingdom is JOY, and sometimes partnering with the Holy Spirit to devise creative ways to get to their heart impacts them more than reaping the spirit of religious rules over their head!
Sibling conflict is God’s training ground. Use it for their good.
Is anyone noticing an increase of bickering, cranky kids, and sharp tones in their family? I know I have, and let’s call it out – it is ANNOYING! There is nothing more grinding to my ears than listening to my children use unkind tones with each other over trivial things. As I was exploring what was going on in my family, I remembered ALL of the sugar they had been consuming. Normally I let them enjoy their Halloween candy for a day or so and then collect it all, but I had forgotten to do that. I told them to get their candy, and I was mortified when I saw the massive pile of SUGAR sitting on my counter, waiting to be consumed. Yeah, NO. This will not go well to allow them to have a steady drip of this much sugar. We are mind, body, and spirit, and we cannot feed our bodies poison and expect to produce sweet results any more than feasting our eyes on violence and expecting peace. Or allowing our ears to consume gossip and slander and expect connection. In one day of removing the sugar, I noticed a massive shift in kindness, care, and gentle words!
We were enjoying a day at the swimming pool. Hudson asked for a sip of my pop, and I felt led to lavish him with the whole thing. Lauren came over and robbed him of his joy by being bossy, controlling, and ‘self-focused.’ I decided to treat the girls to one, too (it is a treat and not something I usually do). I gave it to Lauren to share, but she was being mean-spirited and controlling about it with her sisters, too. I called her over and pointed it out to her. She was frustrated with herself for being like that but didn’t know why. We asked Jesus to shine His flashlight in her heart and show us what was going on. She began to cry and say that the other girls would move away from her whenever she joined them. Bingo! Hurts, lies, offense. She was hurt and offended that her sisters were working on a skit together and were not including her. I explained that she was partnering with control and meanness to make herself feel better and listening to the lie that she couldn’t be weak and show tears (something she struggles with) and that in doing so, she was releasing the wrong kingdom. I asked if that was what she wanted (because she does have a free will, and I would rather parent with her will than try to control her against it). She didn’t want that and agreed to let her sisters know how she felt. She learned that it is safe in God’s Kingdom to show tears and weaknesses, which she revealed to her sisters. I declared over them that they were powerful and incredible world-changers who could devise a plan to resolve the conflict and then left them to figure it out, and the joy returned! Can you see how spanking, time outs, removing the treat, etc., would not have even come close to addressing the real issue of her hurt heart?
Have you ever had those days when you feel like you are constantly butting heads with a child, or they seem to be going out of their way to be a bully to their siblings, yet nothing you do seems to work? Try intentionally meeting their love language, and I bet you will see a sudden change. Children with empty tanks, even with siblings, will often fight to get it filled (obviously, in the wrong way), Love languages matter!
What happens when the tanks run low? While everyone will experience an ebb and flow with their love tank when a person, especially a child, runs on a low love tank as the norm, it can open them up to greater issues and wreak havoc on the growth of their mind, body, and spirit. A low tank makes them susceptible to the following: Isolation – physical, mental, or emotional; Negative words that stick; Unhealthy choices; Orphan behavior – begging and striving; Acting out (negative attention is better than none at all); Aggression; Anger; Building walls to protect their heart; Disconnection; Miss the healthy training ground with siblings; Feeling unsafe; Taught to conform to someone else’s expectations.
When the tanks are filled on a regular basis, it creates an environment where: They are safe and protected; Can try new things without the fear of failure; Negative words roll off their back; Are free to be careful and joyful (a child’s nature); They are seen and heard; Trust you; It is safe to be themselves; Deep sense of belonging; Have the courage to do brave things; Increase the will to overcome and endure.
The Word says if you have EVERYTHING (money, fame, status, awards, a big house, a perfect-looking family, IG followers, Pinterest-worthy snacks, A+ students, fancy cars, leadership titles, etc.), but have no love, you have NOTHING! Love matters because God designed our heart, mind, and soul to need it. May your parenting be defined by what matters the most – L-O-V-E!
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!
The best thing I ever did was teach my kids each other’s love languages. Ellie came to tell me how good Hudson was reading. I reminded her that his language is words of affirmation and told her to go tell him directly. They have been best friends since. When a kid says they are bored, I ask them what Emma’s language is, and they say, “quality time.” The light bulb goes off, and they run to her, knowing she will always play with them. Taking ownership of loving each other is such a blessing in this household! How do you teach your children each other’s love language? Print out the results from the online quiz, call a family meeting, and share. I encourage you not to just say “words of affirmation” but to give examples of how they can do that.