5 Tips for Helping Siblings Get Along — 7 Comments

  1. I would love to hear more about #2. That sounds like a great idea, but I have no concept of what that would actually look like in everyday life.

    I also am wondering what you do if they go ask their siblings for help, and the siblings refuse. (Mine generally do; that’s why I end up having to instruct them to help each other.)

    • For us #2 plays out in chores and farm work. We try to empower everyone to be the “expert” at their job. So, for example, our Cowboy’s job was to water the animals for several years. That meant he was the “expert” at moving and reconnecting hoses, resetting all the valves on the splitter, when and how to scrub out the buckets, etc. So if I send the Ladybug out to help, she needs to listen to him and help with what he says–not just the part she wants to help with. HE gets to tell her when the bucket is clean enough, where to move the hose, which one should be filled first, etc. The Ladybug has the same authority when Speedracer helps her with the layer-house and I give Speedracer the same authority over ME when I’m helping him water and feed the meat chickens. They usually start out as little tyrants and we have to help sand off their rough edges! 🙂 But it helps everyone to learn how to be respectful and clear when giving direction and how to be graceful and diligent when taking directions.

      I think the key with making them interact directly is to always be listening so you know what’s going on, and can give good direction, but not get in the middle of it. I’m always out there listening to their interaction, even if I’m not getting into it. If the sibling refuses a couple things usually happens. 1. They come tattle. Then I ask if they asked nicely and they usually didn’t, so I suggest they try again. If a sibling refuses a polite and humble request, I’ll call the refuser in for a discussion and suggest the requester ask the other sibling. 2. They decide they don’t want any help anyway. I stay out of it. 3. They definitely need help and can’t get it and I’ll pull the refuser aside to tell them I’m disappointed in their unhelpful/un-diligent/disrespectful attitude and they need to help because I said so, and then AFTER the job is done we’ll have a real heart-to-heart. Refusing to help “just because” usually gets an extra consequence around here because we value teamwork and having a servant’s heart so much. Another key is not getting frustrated and taking the easy road–you have to grit your teeth and allow a certain amount of “bickering” for them to work it out (not screaming or name calling or anything!). Again, my husband is very good about helping ME take a deep breath and stay out of it. And praising/rewarding GOOD attitudes and GOOD helpers goes a long way too!

  2. I have a tip that involves parents and children. When I was in elementary school, my mom used to ask me to spy on my older brother and sister and then come back and tell her what they were doing (ie: cleaning vs not cleaning their rooms, etc.) It took me years to get rid of being a tattle-tail! But only after having folks point it out to me. I still have expectations for instant correction when folks do things they aren’t supposed to because of my tattling as a child bringing about instant correction of bad behavior. NEVER pit your kids against each other this way…purposely or inadvertently. It’s not fair to anyone involved.

    • We try to tell the kids all the time that we don’t “tattle” just to get someone in trouble. We tell if someone is breaking a safety rule. But tattling is another perfect way to redirect them back to interacting together. I say, “Did you ask her to stop?” or “Did you tell him not to do that?”

      The tattling can make me crazy. You can tell just by their tone of voice when they come to you if it’s tattling or not.

  3. We are working on this with the girls – but some days I feel like I’m more referee than momma. High on my list is to get them to try to work things out without screaming, crying or running to us.

    • Well, we’re going through a (hopefully short!) phase where they don’t run to us, they just fight it out. :/ That’s not necessarily the answer either. Work it out–yes. Fight it out–no. 🙂