When Little Siblings Squabble

Hi Kendra-

Just want you to know that I have appreciated your blog and wisdom more than I can tell you.  Thank you for all the time you put into it!

Being a mother of 8 I am sure that you have children who don't get along occasionally, and I am wondering how you handle this.  I have a 6 year old daughter who is a peacemaker (usually) and a terrific help to me and a newborn.  I also have 2 boys age 4.5  (Daniel) and almost 2 (Sam) who fight everyday.  Somedays all day long.  Of course, this makes homeschool difficult.  But more than that, I am at the end of my rope.  I don't know how to help them get along.  I have talked to them (at least Damiel) about what God desires from them.  We have prayed together.  We have disciplined in various ways.  Both of the boys are guilty, each enjoying provoking the other.  Daniel often gets angry about the discipline, and to be honest, so do I.  I am praying for God to help me.  Sam, though just as ornery, will usually try to reconcile with his brother by giving him a hug.

I know I can manipulate the situation in different ways to help them get along better, but we wouldn't really be dealing with the issue.  I want to help them get along and really love one another.  I know they do love each other. If Sam is hurt he wants Daniel, or if I leave the house, then Sam clings to Daniel and the Daniel truly comforts him.  So, I am sure this is all normal stuff.  I know it will eventually (hopefully) pass.   I just want to handle it well, and I am at a loss!  Any ideas?

Thanks again,
And God bless you and your family,

Hi Merri-

Sibling squabbles are so tricky, but because yours are so young, they’re even trickier.  Hard to really speak to their hearts at those ages, so I think you need to communicate your expectations by your actions.

First of all, I would not let them out of my sight.  Don’t put them in a room or a play situation by themselves until they’re mature enough to handle it.  In this way, you are “tomato-staking” them , and discipling them.  If they have a falling out, you are right there to correct and show them the right way to handle the conflict.

Secondly, I would make sure they have some time apart from one another each day.  If they are no longer napping, or even if they are, separate them for naptime or a quiet hour.  Use a little reverse psychology and tell them they aren’t allowed to see or talk to each other for the whole time, but you'll let them know when they get to play together again.  You’ll get a break, they’ll get a break, and absence makes the heart grow fonder ;)