Ah, bickering. Sadly it’s as natural to siblings as breathing. But that doesn’t mean squabbling is right—or that we parents are powerless to change it.
If your kids have gotten into a habit of bossing and barking at each other, try this. Sit the kids down and inspire them to discover how much they actually do appreciate about each other. By presenting some simple, even goofy questions and team-building activities, you can help your children realize there are far more reasons to get along than to fight.
Oh—and there’s just one ground rule:
“When you talk, do not say harmful things. But say what people need—words that will help others become stronger. Then what you say will help those who listen to you” (Ephesians 4:29, ICB).
1. If your sibling went far away to live as a foreign exchange student for an entire year, what’s something you would miss about him/her?
2. Imagine you lost your ability to speak and could only communicate with your brother/sister through hand motions. How would you say “I love you”? “Good night”? “Please pass the ketchup”?
3. If your brother/sister were an ice cream cone, what flavor would he/she be, and why?
4. Pretend you and your siblings are a team of super heroes and you have to work together to save the world. What powers would you each have? How would you use them to fight evil?
5. Name three talents you appreciate about your brother/sister.
6. Let’s play an alphabet game. Starting with the oldest sibling, choose a (nice) word to describe the sibling on your left. The word must start with “A.” Then go around the circle, each sibling choosing a word to describe another sibling, which starts with the next letter of the alphabet. Continue until you’ve completed the entire alphabet, A through Z.
7. Have a staring contest. The first person to blink must give his/her opponent a compliment.
8. Our family is a team! Work together to design a team jersey. What should our team be called?
9. Place 10 to 20 household items on the table. (For example, a spoon, a hairbrush, a remote control, etc.) Tell the kids to close their eyes, then remove one of the objects. Have all the siblings work together to agree on which item is missing. Reward correct answers with candy or coins.
10. Create a collaborative story. Have the youngest child begin, “Once upon a time, there was a ____.” Then have another sibling continue the story, then another, and so on. Agree how many turns each child will have creating the next stage of the plot, then wrap it up with a happily ever after. See if this doesn’t generate some welcome giggles for the whole family!
11. Ask your children some basic questions about their favorite things—such as favorite color, favorite food, favorite television show, etc. But have their siblings come up with the answers. This will encourage the kids to take notice of each other and discover more about their unique personalities.
12. Imagine you must live together on a desert island for a week. Each of you is allowed to bring one item to help the group survive. What would you bring? (Encourage discussion among the kids before they answer.)
13. If you had to give one of your most prized possessions to your sibling(s), which would it be and why?
14. What one thing do you wish your sibling(s) would do for you?
15. Imagine you are 100 years old. What will the world be like then? How will you and your siblings spend time together?
16. What is your favorite memory so far of the time you’ve spent together?
17. If you could choose only one board game to play for the rest of your childhood, what would it be? (Each of the kids can have a different answer.) How much fun would those games be if you didn’t have anybody to play them with? Aren’t you glad you have built-in playmates in our family?
18. Pretend your sibling was captured by aliens. What would you do to rescue him/her?
19. Why do you think God made siblings?
20. The Bible says it’s important to pray for one another. Why? What would you like your brother/sister to pray about for you today?
For more help encouraging your kiddos to be friends, check out my newest parent/child Bible study download, Let’s All Get Along: How to Live in Harmony With Siblings.