With four boys at home, I am only too familiar with the issues of sibling squabbles, rivalry, and (ok, I’ll say it…) full-on fighting. None of us like it and we work hard to avoid it. We have always taught our boys to get along and work out their own differences.
And usually, they are the best of friends.
But not always.
If you’ve mastered the art of having kids who get along perfectly all of the time, you are my hero. Please write a book.
But for the rest of us, I thought I would share a few of our most successful strategies for what to do WHEN THE BOYS AREN’T GETTING ALONG. I’m not referring to the times where someone is clearly in the wrong and needs to be disciplined. I’m talking more about those times where everyone is rubbing each other the wrong way, and something NEEDS to be done…
The days where they’re just together a little too much.
The long car rides.
The days where someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed, or the little brother is just TOO ANNOYING, or the big brother is just SICK OF EVERYONE.
Here are my top three solutions for those sibling squabbles:
- CHANGE THE ENVIRONMENT: Often my boys end up on each other’s nerves when they’re just doing something for too long. Playing a game (video games are notorious for this) or even in one room for too long. If the squabbling begins, I have found that quickly changing the environment is super helpful. Move everyone OUTSIDE if possible. Or into a different room. Blast some cheerful (or worship,) music, or prepare a snack. A change of activity and scenery usually nips the sour moods in the bud.
- MAKE THEM MAKE UP: (This one doubles as parental entertainment!) You must use your own good judgement for this one. It only works in certain situations, but trust me, when it works, it is GOLDEN. Sometimes when my two “middles” are bickering like crazy, I will very seriously pull them aside. As they await firm consequences, or (much worse,) another drawn-out mom lecture, I instead say: Give each other a big hug RIGHT NOW.” They usually bust out laughing and that alone might be enough. But I follow through and make them make up. (Literally.)
- GIVE THEM SPACE: I don’t know about you, but out of my DESIRE to make kids get along, I can often overlook the obvious. I sometimes try so hard to FORCE the boys to work things out when wisdom would be to just give them some space from one another. I have tried hard to do our homeschooling all together in ONE room and find myself daily frustrated with boys who are either picking on each other or (better, but still a challenge,) having TOO much fun. In my hard-headed determination, I didn’t even consider putting boys in different spaces for at least part of their school day. Since I’ve tried that, our day is so much better! Why didn’t I try it sooner!?
This principle can be applied to rainy days, holidays, or any other time the kids are just together TOO MUCH. Some time away from one another can work wonders. If one or more of the kids can go play at a friend or relative’s house for awhile, all the better!
As long as our kids are kids…or HUMAN for that matter, getting along will be challenging. We can do everything in our power to encourage peace and harmony, but if we are realistic, there will still be days that are just ROUGH.