Maybe it was just my brother and I, but given too much time in close quarters and the disagreements started. Who touched whom and who crossed imaginary lines would have challenged the patience of the best world diplomats.
You may currently be experiencing sibling issues in your home. In some ways it’s understandable. Young, immature people…often in competition for parental attention and approval, can become adversaries quite easily. Add mandatory confinement for days on end and you have a sibling battle ready to erupt at a moment’s notice.
You can help your kids become loving siblings who support one another and settle conflicts in godly ways. Contrary to popular parenting wisdom though, your kids will not suddenly, somewhat magically learn these skills while beating each other to a pulp or screaming for parental intervention.
We have too many people in our world who handle conflict in violent, destructive ways now because too many parents believed they didn’t need to actively teach their kids how to resolve conflict in godly ways.
We have a couple of free tools to help you teach your kids how to be loving siblings and settle their conflict in godly ways. Teach your kids the tools and help them practice them. Forcing them to say “Sorry” as they kick the dirt and grimace won’t do the trick. Taking the extra time and effort to really work with your kids can not only make the current situation easier for everyone, but can improve many of their other relationships in the future. It’s worth taking some time while they are forced to stay home to work on the skills they desperately need to learn and master.
There are times when parenting requires every bit of patience and godliness you may have acquired over the years. Being quarantined at home with your spouse, your kids and possibly random other people or animals…while at least one person is working from home and one of more of your kids is also schooling at home…let’s just say it may have created the Olympics of parenting for you.
Stressful times throw everything into at least a bit of chaos. Whether it’s COVID or a new baby, drastic changes in your family’s circumstances and lifestyle can bring a lot of extra confusion and stress to you and your kids. While your family adjusts to the larger issue, the changes in routines and other aspects of your family dynamics can be particularly upsetting to your kids.
They don’t have the life experience to understand what changes are temporary and which will be permanent. The people they normally count on to comfort them (you and your spouse) may be or at least seem to be unavailable to help them process anything. They may even be missing sleep or other basic needs as everyone scurries to cope.
Your kids may not have the vocabulary to express their emotions or frame their questions. Or they may be worried about making things worse by asking you to set aside time to help them. When young people are struggling with strong emotions, confusion, lack of sleep and major changes in routine, they often act out in some way.
While their misbehavior is understandable, you can’t afford to let it go totally unaddressed. Unfortunately, your own stress level can mean you over react in your initial response, your correction or the consequences you give. This only adds to the stress your kids are feeling.
When you find your family is entering a season of uncertainty, change or difficulties, establishing some consistent ways of dealing with the behavioral issues of your kids can help. Most families don’t have written rules with set consequences for disobeying them.
Written rules and set consequences can help your family in stressful times. Arguing and emotional blow ups can be easily minimized. The rules are posted for everyone to see and the consequences are set. It’s important to remember if you don’t calmly point to the rule and enforce the consequence consistently however, this method isn’t as effective.
Maintain your cool, no matter how upset and angry you are at your kids when they break a rule. The minute you lose your temper, they have “won”. Don’t allow them to create a power struggle either. You are the somewhat dispassionate creator, and reminder of the rules and enforcer of predetermined consequences. (This also means avoiding harsh words, name calling, cursing and screaming.)
To avoid creating the atmosphere of a mini police state in your home, make sure your kids understand this is a form of crisis management and a way they can be of help. Present this as a way of reminding your family you are a team working together to not just survive, but thrive during this season. You may even consider adding a couple of rules and consequences that include the parents.
If you feel your emotions beginning to take over when an infraction occurs, give yourself a quick time out. Tell your child to go to his or her room or that you need to step in another room for a minute to calm down before talking about what happened. While it may feel like your emotions are a bit out of control, modeling to your kids how to regain self control can actually help them when they struggle.
After you have corrected your kids and given consequences, it is more important than ever to reconnect with them. Give everyone some time to calm down from the incident. Then hug your child and have a chat.
Remember, much of this misbehavior is not as much from a rebellious spirit as a frightened child needing parental attention and reassurance. They need to know you still love them…especially if what they did made you really angry. They need you to remind them God is still there and still loves them. They need to know this season will pass.
Finally, do whatever you can to explain what is happening to your kids in age appropriate ways. Give them your best guess for how long this season might less or what your family is doing to survive and even thrive during it. If your kids are acting out from stress and fear, it can be in part because they have no idea what is really happening.
You don’t want to frighten them by giving them information they are too young to process. Leaving them in total ignorance though, can be even more stressful for some children. They may have imagined scenarios much worse than the reality.
Having a plan for when your kids misbehave in those chaotic times can take a lot of that parenting stress off of your emotional plate. This in turn can give you the mental, emotional and spiritual reserves you need to handle whatever caused the disruption.
A recent Barna study found kids and teens who grew to be faithful, productive Christians as adults had been exposed to an average of about 2 hours of spiritual content a day.
Before you start to panic, the good news is that it doesn’t all have to be formal instruction (Note: Sending your kids to a Christian school, doesn’t remove the need for you, as their parents, to provide spiritual content for them.) Things like praying and having people over to eat count towards the total.
In fact, there are lots of rather simple things you can do to increase your kids’ exposure to spiritual content each day. Here are a few of our favorites.
Have faith conversations in the car. If you’re a parent, you probably spend a lot of time in the car with your kids. As you talk about life, make sure to point them towards God whenever possible. These spiritual discussions are a key factor in building a strong faith foundation.
Have drive by prayers. Don’t close your eyes if you are driving, but get in the habit of having short prayers motivated by things you see as you drive. Anyone can notice something and lead a drive by prayer for it.
Make time for family devotionals. You make time to read your kids lots of secular books and encourage them to read independently. Why? Because you have heard it will help them do better in school. Make an effort to read the Bible to your kids and encourage them to read it independently. Having a strong faith foundation is even more important than doing well in school.
Make worship services and Bible classes a priority. When you regularly skip church and Bible class for other activities, you send the message that those are things are good to do only if there isn’t anything better available.
Serve others and share your faith. Serving others and sharing your faith should be as much of your family DNA as your last name and your holiday traditions. You will initially do these things as a family. As your kids grow older, their individual service and faith sharing should be as common as what you do as a family.
Let your kids have their friends over. Hospitality is a major part of the home life of kids who grow up to be faithful Christians. It doesn’t have to be formal entertaining either. Letting them invite their friends to your house counts. So do visits by neighbors and extended family.
Do things with other Christian families. Don’t wait for your church to plan something organized. Meet another family at the park, take a hike with a group from church or grab a fast food lunch after church with others.
When you take your kids to a museum, look for sections covering cultures in the Bible. Many museums have sections with artifacts from the Egyptians, the Romans, the Assyrians, the Greeks and other cultures in the Bible. You may find lots of artifacts mentioned in the Bible like oil lamps, Torah scrolls, mummies (Jacob and Joseph’s bodies were mummified in Egypt), even some of the idols like Baal. (Note: In some museums, artifacts from Israel will be found in a section called Levantine or Levant culture.)
Take your kids outside. The Bible teaches us that creation points to God. Take your kids on a hike, to the beach, to an aquarium or zoo. Point out how amazing God is and how much He loves us.
Helping your kids build strong faith foundations and grow to their godly potential takes intentionality. Once you make the time though, the things you need to do are actually rather basic. Don’t let anything stop you from teaching your kids about God.
Have you seen the viral post claiming to have found a way to cure holiday tantrums over toys? Evidently, the mom struggled with her child having melt downs in toy aisles of stores because she wanted something from Santa right then.
The mom’s solution? Take a photo of the child holding the toy to “send to Santa”. She claimed the child immediately calmed down and often even forgot she wanted the toy.
As a Christian parent, I have so many issues with this supposedly wonderful idea. Beyond the implied lie to the child that she will indeed get everything she wants from Santa (the mother had no intention evidently of giving her child most of those toys), the solution feeds a greedy, entitled heart.
There are several more effective ways of avoiding the “child melting down in the toy aisle” scenario. In fact, doing these things consistently can help you raise kids who don’t become greedy at all.
Stay out of toy aisles and toy stores with your child. Showing kids aisles and aisles of things they didn’t even know existed, only tempts them to want those things. Why encourage greed? The only time a child should be on any toy aisle is to quickly choose a present for someone else. Even in those cases, discuss ahead of time which toy you will probably purchase, find it quickly and immediately move to the checkout or another less tempting section of the store.
Avoid commercial television, catalogs and other advertising. Advertising is another way children become convinced they need something they didn’t even know existed until they saw the ad.
Explain the family budget in age appropriate ways. Even young children can understand how hard their parents work to earn the money you have. They also need to understand that God wants us to give money back to Him and to help others first. After that, there are bills that must be paid. Your family must also save money for things like college, family vacations and to repair the car when it breaks down. The little money left is for fun things like toys. You never want your children to worry about money, but they need to understand there isn’t an unlimited supply either.
Limit presents to Christmas and birthdays. If they want anything between those holidays, they must earn and save the money for those items by doing extra little jobs around the house or saving their allowance. Regularly giving your kids toys for no real reason makes them think they may just get everything they want – especially if they make it clear it is something they want badly.
Never reward tantrums. Your kids need to understand the quickest way to make sure they never receive a toy is to pitch a tantrum about wanting it. For older children, you may have to make a similar rule about continual begging for an item.
Set a good example. If you constantly talk about the things you want, spend too many hours and too much money shopping for non essential items, you can’t expect your kids to act differently.
Make sure your family finds giving more rewarding than receiving. Make regularly serving others and sharing the things you have a family priority. Focus more on how your family can give than how your family can accumulate more things for yourselves. When unexpected money comes into your family, give God a portion first.
You won’t banish greed from your child’s life by snapping a picture of him or her in a toy aisle. You can, however, by helping your child grow a godly, generous heart. It takes more time and effort, but it’s actually effective.
Note: Tired of having to constantly remind others to do what they should be doing? Share the somewhat silly post below, then have a family discussion about the suggestions in the article. Why is having to be constantly reminded to do something, a possible sign of a “heart” problem? What needs to change in the ways you interact with one another?
Are you tired of everyone nagging you? Ever wonder why they don’t know you are already well aware of what they are constantly bothering you about? What if I told you there is a method you can use to eliminate almost all of the nagging people do that bothers you?
This method involves an exercise that will take a little work at first, mainly because you probably have several people bugging you about different things. It’s easy once you get the hang of it though, and will usually stop any future nagging as soon as you use it.
Step 1: Make a list of every person who nags you. Beside their name, list the things they are constantly bugging you about. This list needs to be very thorough or the method won’t work well.
Step 2: Accept that these things are very important to the person listed beside them. The reasons don’t really matter – you probably wouldn’t think they were all that great anyway. You just have to accept that the quirks that make them so lovable include an unreasonable expectation that you do these things consistently and in a manner they consider timely.
Step 3: Remind yourself of the Golden Rule – Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Is there a special possession you don’t want people to borrow without asking or perhaps even touch? Or something you are having to constantly remind others to do because it is important to you? Would you want them to respect your wishes, even if they thought you were being silly about it? Then you need to give the people that are nagging you the same respect about the things that are important to them.
Step 4: This step is crucial. Get up right now and do everything on that list. If it is something that needs to be done on a regular basis, do it immediately whenever the opportunity arises (like putting dirty clothes in the hamper).
That’s it! Repeat the exercise whenever you notice someone has begun nagging you. If you are really paying attention, you can complete the exercise before they even have a chance to nag you. That generally leaves them speechless for a time.
Remember, as unreasonable as others’ requests may seem, they are critically important to them. You will most likely never convince them those things are optional or unimportant. Your time is better spent completing the exercise, thereby giving yourself the peace you so richly deserve!