Do your kids fight with each other? Probably. My four daughters occasionally fight. My brothers and I fought while we were growing up. The very first siblings we read about in the Bible—Cain and Abel—fought. Sibling rivalry seems so normal that we may mistakenly think it’s not a big deal.
How to Resolve Sibling Rivalry
God didn’t create sibling relationships to be relationships full of strife. The strife is the result of the Fall. God created siblings to be loving helpers to each other, not rivals. It’s our job as parents to help nurture loving, helpful relationships between our children. Here are a few tips that I hope will help.
1. Teach your children what God says about relationships
God’s Word has a lot to say about how we should treat each other. Start teaching your kids biblical truths about kindness at an early age.
Ephesians 4:32—And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
I Corinthians 13: 4–6—Charity [love] suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
Philippians 2:4—Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
Even small children can put some of these verses to memory, but your children need to do more than memorize them—they need to know how to apply them. So ask them questions like, “Were you being kind when you broke your brother’s block tower?” and “I know your little sister is interrupting your reading time, but how can you respond to her with love?”
2. Teach your children how to reconcile.
Because our children are sinners like us, they will fight. A toy might be snatched away. An item might be ruined. A hurtful word might be said. But how your children deal with the offenses is very important. Teach them how to seek forgiveness from one another and what forgiveness means. After forgiveness has been sought and given, encourage your children to give each other a hug to exemplify the restoration of the relationship.
3. Encourage your children to cheer one another on.
Our children have different personalities and different interests—these differences can lead to strife, but they don’t have to. These differences can be opportunities for our children to show love to one another. Encourage your children to cheer on a sibling during a sport’s game or a music recital. Teach them how to show interest in a sibling’s hobby. These little acts of support will go a long way in strengthening relationships.
4. Foster family unity over sibling rivalry.
Relationships take time. It will be hard for your children to build relationships with each other if they are constantly doing their own thing. Do as much together as you can. Have your children help you with church ministries or household projects. Make memories by going on hikes, visiting local attractions, playing board games, and having picnics. If you need ideas, check out Kim Sorgius’s (of Not Consumed Ministries) list of family bonding activities.
The Lord wants our homes to be homes filled with peace and love. When it is, our home will beautifully reflect God’s household—a place where brothers and sisters in Christ live in harmony and edify one another. It will display God’s redemptive power to the world.