Home motherhood/family/parenting Helping Siblings Get Along

Helping Siblings Get Along

by Kelly Crawford

There are days when I feel on top of the world as a mother.  The birds are singing, the sun is shining, I know what we’re having for supper and my children have laughed most of the day.

Then there are those other days…(Mama said there’d be days like this.)

Days when I collapse into bed at night, melancholy with a keen sense of failure.

Those days are awful.  They can be accompanied by a sense of hopelessness and strong desire to “give up”.

But what I love about those days is that they almost always create in my life the clouds that allow the sun to illuminate all the brighter the next day.  They don’t last.  Joy comes in the morning….a fresh, new perspective and surge of energy is waiting from the hand of my Father.

Such was my morning.

Enough backdrop.  Now onto a blessed little mother-moment that may give you some hope when you come off a hard day:

Two of my children rub each other like sandpaper.  Not all the time, but often enough.  Whoever said children can’t learn socialization at home didn’t have 8 children spending all their days together.  Socialization is what we do.

I fought the urge to sleep and got up to see the beautiful sun rise.  Coffee in hand, prayers on my lips, I woke the oldest of the “sandpaper couple”.

We read Colossians 3 together, snuggled up in a chair, under a blanket.  A ripe condition for heart-talk.

“Do you know how a bank account works?  In order to take money out, you must put money in.  People are kind of like bank accounts.  Praise and criticism must be at least equal.”

Child listened intently.

“Do you know what I think?  I think you can “head off” strife by deliberately beginning the day with a kind word or gesture.  That way, when you need to ask [insert other child’s name] to stop doing something, you will have already padded your ‘friendship account’.

So, when she gets up this morning, instead of just being in the same room, do something actively kind.  A smile, a tender touch on the shoulder, a cheerful greeting.”

Child was so receptive.  Like a light bulb had gone off.

I gave a few more hints:  “Watch the difference in the way I say this phrase, once with a demanding tone and face, then with a gentle one…”

Child was amazed at the difference.

(Wait for it…..)

Up the stairs the children began coming.  They were all greeted with such sweet voice, child offering to pour bowls of cereal, and inquiring of the night’s sleep.

I almost cried.  It was beautiful.  A genuine heart of friendship oozed out.  They need more than a “be kind”.  That’s what we’re here for.  To show them what that looks like.  And on those days when I want to check out, well, that’s just not an option.

The simple little gestures, the ones that perhaps just needed a verbal nudge, worked like giant shock absorbers that headed off the friction so easily found in our mornings.

The birds are singing. God is good.

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jen in AL April 7, 2010 - 8:04 am

Love this! great word picture! we have a sandpaper couple ourselves so i hope you don’t mind if i use this?:) too true about all the “socialization” we do! LOL:) blessings, jen in al

Lucy T April 7, 2010 - 8:17 am

Great job Kelly!

Angelina April 7, 2010 - 8:50 am

Thank you for sharing such wonderful encouragement. I sometimes lack creativity in loving ways to provide instruction before an incident has occured. Thank you again for sharing such a tender and joyous moment.

Laryssa @ Heaven In The Home April 7, 2010 - 9:02 am

What wonderful advice, thank you!

Leslie V April 7, 2010 - 9:37 am

Thank you so much. This is just what I needed today.

Lisa in ND April 7, 2010 - 9:55 am

My 3.5-year-old DD and 12-year-old DS can have horrible fights (you wouldn’t think so with such an age difference but they do). When they are kind to each other, it’s like the heavens open and the birds sing — best feeling ever as a parent! Thanks for sharing your story.

Sarah April 7, 2010 - 10:47 am

Being proactive instead of reactive . . . very wise. I need to work on that. Thanks for sharing this!

Kim M April 7, 2010 - 11:25 am

Oh I need to try this. Thank you. My two youngest love each other to death. But….they are either really chummy or they are getting on the others’ nerves (think… an obnoxious repetitive tune over and over until the other wants to scream, etc).
This is a great tip. Thank you so much.

Mrs W April 7, 2010 - 11:29 am

Kelly, this is good, and I think it relates to marriage too. If I can give my husband a kind word when he gets up, then my “love account” with him will be padded just a little.

Linda April 7, 2010 - 12:01 pm

This is very wise advice. It works! I just have to remember on those days when the kids have not gotten along and my nerves are raw that I need to take a deep breath and keep practicing this advice myself. 😉

Diana April 7, 2010 - 1:20 pm

Thank you for this post! I’m not very creative in my discipline and just as your child I need to see godly examples to get a better idea of how to deal with situations (other than whining or yelling etc). I really like the way you handled that (though I’m sure it is something that would need repeating, hehe. It is also something we can keep in mind for ourselves when interacting with our husband and children. Whew! Great advice!

Thanks again 🙂

Word Warrior April 7, 2010 - 2:00 pm

Mrs. W and Diana,

You are right…this SO works with our husbands! One careless reply in the beginning can snowball in the wrong direction but a thoughtful one in the right direction!

Mary Jo April 7, 2010 - 2:38 pm

Very well put. I was crying just reading this. So often, little reminders before a problem starts makes such a HUGE difference in how a day/situation will unfold. Thanks, Kelly!

Kelly L April 7, 2010 - 6:12 pm

So beautiful. We have one marvelous blessing (I am trying to get rid of saying ‘only one’), but this be applied in us too. We have the power to bless or curse with our mouth. Choose life, that we may live!

wannabegodly April 7, 2010 - 8:39 pm

Wow! Again, you’ve written something that is so needed in our home. I’m certainly going to create opportunities to express this to my several “sandpaper” children & myself. 🙂

Mrs. Lady Sofia April 7, 2010 - 9:10 pm


I unfortunately don’t have any children, but I enjoyed how you used the example of a bank account with Colossians 3. That was brilliant, and your kindness in the matter was a success to boot! 🙂

BTW, I just sent you an email. Please watch for it in your mailbox.

~Mrs. Lady Sofia~

Danielle April 7, 2010 - 9:58 pm

Thank you for sharing this. I say “be kind” ALL THE TIME… and it doesn’t work :-)We have even taped bible verses on the wall about one anothering. Good idea to be more nice rather than just holding back the mean part. I’ll be talking to my very own sandpaper couple tomorrow!

Jennifer April 9, 2010 - 10:39 am

Thanks so much for sharing this! It is something that we so need in our home right now. We were talking about this with our oldest child just last night and I really had now solutions to give her. I will, definitely, be trying this one!

the Mrs. April 9, 2010 - 12:16 pm

Thanks for sharing. It made me cry. Our olders have such an influence on our youngers(don’t they). I am going to try it.

Charity April 9, 2010 - 12:57 pm

Kelly, I am enjoying catching up with your posts. Our life has been shook up a little latley after a well-check at the doctor with our 13month old baby boy. We have being sent hither and yon for blood work, to see specialists, and various testing because he hasn’t gained any weight in the last few visits to the doctor. He is developmentally way ahead of most babies his age and we aren’t too terribly concerned as they base proper growth on a chart depicting averages of other babies his smae age. Anyway, we would appreciate prayers. It is exhausting and nerve tangling to see your baby put through all of this. God knows his little body and numbered his days before we concieved him, I know HE s in control.

Love this post! Blessings to you and yours…

Luci April 9, 2010 - 1:58 pm

I love this post! My husband and I don’t have children (yet) but I know I’ll come back to refer to this when, Lord willing, we do. I particularly love your point: “Socialization is what we do.” YES! And with 8 beloved children, all with different personalities, talents, and gifts, socialization is bound to occur simply through their daily interactions.



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