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What If You Just Want Your Children to Learn to Get Along?

What If You Just Want Your Children to Learn to Get Along?

I am a peacemaker.

It’s my nature. I long for peace and for everyone to like each other. To get along. I guess it’s just the way I’m made.

But then I became a mother.

And to my great surprise, our children don’t always get along. In fact, they’re shockingly prone to bicker, argue, and quarrel. Gasp.

So my peacemaking skills have really been put to the test. Pushed to the limit. And at times gone over the edge.

What can a parent do about everyday picking and jabbing? Arguing and scrapping? How do you teach your children the basic skill of getting along? 

Quite honestly, I wish there was a “formula” because I think I’d follow it. But we’re talking about hearts here, not merely behavior. So it’s not quite that simple.  But here are a handful of creative ways we teach our children how to get along with one another.

How to Get Along

Second-Chance-It. The moment the bickering gets going, step in and stop everything. Whoever is involved gets the chance to try it over again. Time for an instant replay – only this time the communication should be loving and kind.

For instance: “I’m sorry, brother, but could you please put this glass away for me?”
“Oh, yes, sister, I’d be happy to do that for you.”

Often the siblings find this exchange rather hilarious, but that’s alright. At least we’re smiling now. And, who knows? It might even become more natural as we practice it.

Sweetening Up. Sometimes the content is fine; it’s the tone that’s the problem. The rude snarl is what provokes more than the actual words spoken. So correct with,”Could you let her know, son, that it’s your turn now….but without the snarky voice?”

There was nothing wrong with reminding his sister about it being his turn; it was the demanding, ugly voice that went with it. A sweet spirit can go a long way in reducing conflict.

Serving Each Other. When two children don’t get along, the impulse is to separate them. But it might be better – not easier, but better – to give them further opportunities to be close together.

So we’ll team up the two quarreling ones to wash the dishes together. Or tackle the mess in the garage. We’ve even gone so far as to appoint two sisters to share a room – until they learned to get along (and, yes, it worked). The idea is to put them in a situation where they can grow together.

Seeking to Bless. A big part of bickering? Is because we’re looking after our own interests and not those of others. So we encourage our children to consider their siblings above themselves.

Instead of “I want the blue cup!” How about, “Which cup would you like to have, Little Sister”?
Rather than, “I get to sit up front!” How about, “Where would you like to sit, Big Brother”?
Such gestures might not be a first response, but they can learn and discover the joy – yes, joy! – it is to bless others. (More on Encouraging a Heart to Serve here).

Simplifying. Here’s my one little “secret” to bicker-management: Don’t give it a chance to grow. An argument can quickly turn into such a tangled mess that it’s impossible to know where to begin. Identify the “core issue” if you can, but sorting out every angle and accusation is not always required. Simply identify the underlying selfishness (Does it truly matter who started it, if both sinned?). Then all involved should repent,  seek forgiveness, and carry on in love.

How to Get Along Together

Let’s learn to love one another (I John 4:7).

In His grace,

Lisa Jacobson, Club31Women

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  1. Great advice, Lisa! Right now we are in a season where our two youngest boys are going at it constantly! While it isn’t “easy” we choose to stick it out and allow every chance for character building to take place (even if inside I want to pull my hair out….hahahaha). Have a great week, friend.

    1. Those are tough seasons, Carlie! I know because we’ve been there. I keep reminding myself that this is good practice for building character and even for working it out someday in marriage (you know, like putting another’s interests before your own?). 🙂 And a blessed week for you too!

  2. Hi Lisa
    Thanks for these tips. I have been praying about how to handle this very issue. i will be trying some of these, because I found it easier to always separated them and send them to their rooms.
    However, you are so right, sometime they have to stay together to learn how to get along with each other.

    Peace to you.

    1. It felt rather “slow going” at first, but over time I did see the children grow in getting along better. It takes practice, I believe. Not that we don’t all need some “space” now and then, but not as a way of avoiding the problem within – if that makes sense?

  3. Thank you for this article. We live in IL and cabin fever has set in. The bickering as well as tattling seem of the charts some days. Ugh! It’s time to get to grip and restore some kindness and patience.

    1. Funny, we have a similar fever here too, Jennifer! It’s an added challenge when we’re all locked inside for too many hours…and not enough outside play. My husband sent the boys off this morning to blow the snow off our driveway – and we have a loooong driveway. Yay! (Yet another creative “solution”? 🙂

  4. Thanks for a great article!! We are also in this season right now. Some days I feel like my job is a referee more than Mom. Living in Indiana, cabin fever has set in for the kids as well and it does take it’s toll. I have started putting the ones fighting together and either hugging for a set amount of time or holding hands on the couch. During that time they are not allowed to say anything negative or with a snarky attitude. It has helped – at least for a little while.

    1. What a terrific, creative solution! I love it. When our children were quite young, we sometimes had them sit next to each other on the stairs “until they could become friends”. It inevitably ended up in giggling and goofing around – much better than squabbling!

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