I was really at my wits’ end. The bickering and name calling was constant and the fighting and harsh words flew back and forth way more than I liked. My boys loved each other, they were best friends, and yet they couldn’t seem to get along. I tried doing more together, keeping them apart and nothing was helping. I knew something needed to change, but I wasn’t sure what.

One day, my boys were just at each other’s throats; I put on a movie and locked myself in the bathroom to cry and pray. After a while I was able to see the situation and I realized my mistake: I’d forgotten to address their hearts. If I wanted my boys to stop fighting and bickering, I needed to reach their hearts. They needed me to point them to God.

Here are three questions to ask your children when they are struggling to get along with their siblings:

What did you do?

When my children are misbehaving, I’m always tempted to ask them why they are doing something. My children usually either tell me they don’t know, point fingers at the other, or make something up. This doesn’t really get us anywhere. I want my children to understand that they are responsible for their choices and actions, but sometimes they just aren’t mature or calm enough to see that on their own.

Asking your child what they did gives them the chance to own up to their part in the conflict. Be firm about not blaming others or trying to minimize their poor choices. If they struggle with this you may have to encourage them by telling them what you’ve seen or what’s been reported by another child. Be sure to ask your child if this information is correct.

What does the Bible (or God) say about what you did?

I would say that this is the most important step when dealing with any kind of sin or misbehavior from your children. Giving your child the space to examine their heart in light of Scripture allows for God to work on their hearts. Showing my boys that they are not honoring God with their actions is often enough to move them to repentance.

This, of course, is most helpful when you’ve spent time training and discipling your children. I am not an expert in Scripture, but I do have a few tools that help me out. I rely heavily on my Child Training Bible and For Instructions in Righteous from Doorposts.

How can you make it right?

Once I have taken the time to talk with my boys about what they have done and why it’s not what Scripture asks us to do, I really encourage them to go back and restore their relationship with each other.  The first step is to ask for forgi;then there’s usually a hug or one more thing they do. The one more thing will depend on the situation and your child.

I usually talk with my boys about possible ways of restoring their relationship. When they have used their words to hurt each other, I encourage them to go back and build each other up. When a lego creation is destroyed in anger and frustration, I encourage them to work together to build something new.

These three questions have really helped my boys to take a look at their own hearts when in conflict with each other. I don’t have to do a lot of lecturing and I have seen them really grow in their faith and in character.