I am that mom.

You know the kind—the mom with kids who always misbehave, act out, and engage in public tantrums. Whether it’s Costco, the doctor’s office, or an outing at the park, my boys are always fighting, always getting into trouble, and yes, always causing a scene. Oftentimes, I’m the recipient of nasty looks as well as plenty of (unwanted) advice as my children’s public acts of defiance irk others to the point of disgust. Know what else? I’m completely worn out from the amount of refereeing and mediation required by my kiddos on a daily basis. After all, I’ve read every article on sibling rivalry (more than once), and I’ve pinned every self-help post I could find on how to get my kids to like one another…to act civil…to behave!

Guess what? None of them have worked.

It’s no secret that as a mom of three, I crave peace within my home. In fact, I desire it above all else. I want my children to love and genuinely care for one another. I mean, how hard is it to behave, anyway? How difficult can it be to refrain from poking one’s brother in the arm, the eye, or head? How hard is it to close one’s mouth and resist spewing hateful words toward another in the same household? And please tell me, why is it so difficult to cease banging on the bathroom door incessantly until the child using the restroom is finished? These things seem like common sense to my adult mind. These are no-brainers as far as I’m concerned. But for a child? It’s a completely different ball game. We know this to be true and those of us with siblings can remember the battles we once waged on one another, as our immature minds couldn’t yet grasp the idea of conflict resolution. And so we did what worked: we yelled, we hit, we pulled hair, and we annoyed the heck out of each other, much to our parents’ dismay.

Honestly, this sort of negative behavior between our children shouldn’t come as a surprise, should it? It’s to be expected, right? But it still begs the question, what’s a mom to do when everything she’s tried to keep peace within her home hasn’t worked? How is she supposed to react when sibling rivalry threatens to destroy her family and any sanity she hopes to maintain? And how is she supposed to deal when she’s at her wits’ end, fed up and worn out from all the bickering?

1.     Pray

I have literally begged God to intervene on my behalf every single day (and in every single way) on this journey of motherhood. As my kids have grown and the fights lessen over whose hair got pulled, and are more about whose Legos are whose, I’ve asked Him to become the still, small voice they need to hear (and obey!) in those moments of anger and hostility. I’ve asked Him to give me more patience with my kids, and to help me honor Him in my discipline of them.

2.     Family Devotions

More God and less television. Start each morning off right by enlisting the help of a family devotional (Jesus Calling for Kids is my fave). Read the Word. Show them Jesus in your actions. Teach them how Christ chose to love others—even when it was hard, even when it meant loving others at their worst.  

3.     Reward the good.

Poor behavior is not okay. Ever. So, if I’m out with my brood and one of them chooses to misbehave, they’re not going to get rewarded. For example, I love froyo. Like, love-love. I hit up froyo shops with my kids as often as I can. However, if one of them chooses to misbehave or act rudely toward a sibling, that child loses froyo privileges. They miss out. Sure, they may groan, they may cry, gnash their teeth, etc., but my kiddos need to learn that mean guys finish last…and mean guys certainly don’t get froyo.

4.     Stay the Course

One of the hardest things I’ve dealt as a mom is this fighting that takes place between my children. It’s enough to send me over that proverbial edge, if you know what I mean. I’ve got three children with three different personalities, likes and dislikes, and it’s hard. Really hard. But mastering conflict resolution is an important tool, not only for our children, but for our families as a whole. Trust, try, and hold firm. Stay consistent with your discipline. Work with one another and as a team. Pray for God’s wisdom..