“Go, ahead and make me!”
You homeschool so you can give your children a quality education and avoid the bad influences. But, instead of gentle, loving children, you find yourself living with bickering siblings. Are they really yours?
You go church. You read the Bible every morning. But instead of peace and order, you feel like a referee.
You are not alone. This has been a struggle for Moms since Eve tried to help Cain and Abel get along. Hey, don’t worry, we have the Holy Spirit now.
Take a deep breath and let’s start with the big question: Why do children fight so much with their siblings?
As I was asking myself this question, a passage from James immediately came to my mind.
“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” (James 4:1-3 NIV).
Children Bicker Because They Want Something a Sibling Has
Greed, wanting what someone else has is often the cause of arguments among adults and children. When sisters and brothers cannot get what they want, they quarrel and fight.
What are some things that children want?
- The biggest piece
- The easiest chore
- The prettier doll
- The sturdier ball
- To pitch
- To be team captain
- To decide the name
- The be the star
- To do what they want
- To play what they want to play
- To be the best
- To be the smartest
- To be the prettiest/handsomest
- To wear the prettiest dress
- To get the most praise/recognition
- To watch the movie they want to watch
- To win the game
- Parent’s undivided attention
You can only imagine how many times a day, a child doesn’t get what they want. And even worse, a sibling gets what they want. This causes most of the quarrels and arguments between siblings.
How can we combat this?
By painstakingly, day after day, teach our children to put biblical principles into practice.
We teach these things, we give opportunities to apply them, and we applaud our children when they put them into practice.
- Going the Extra Mile
- Enjoying the blessing of giving over receiving
- Thinking of others as more highly than ourselves
- Rejoicing with those who rejoice
- Mourning with those who mourn
- Genuine love that lays down life
When children sense favoritism like Jacob showed to his son Joseph, they become jealous and embittered.
Joseph’s brothers were so jealous of Joseph that they wanted to kill him. Instead, they just sold him into slavery.
Hey, doesn’t that make your children seem nicer?
Even Miriam and Aaron became jealous of Moses on the way to the Promised Land. In both of these Bible families, jealousy led to quarreling.
Give Parental Love & Attention
As parents, we need to go out of our way to not show favoritism, or single any one child out as the scapegoat of the family. Instead, love all your children. See the good in each one and bring that good to their attention. Make time to talk to your children, giving them your full attention. Make sure that all your children feel loved, that no one is lost in chaos, especially in larger families.
Let your marriage and relationships with each child serve as a model of the kind of healthy relationships your children can have with one another.
Of course you are not perfect. When you blow it, repent and receive God’s forgiveness. Enjoy His forgiveness.
When your kids blow it remember this: “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child” (Proverbs 22:15 NASB).
Are you really surprised that you have to deal with foolish behavior? This is part of the parenting job and you are the perfect person to help your children overcome sibling bickering.
Deal with Quarreling
When your children are fighting, step in and get their attention.
“Hey, guys, we need to get rid of this behavior. Let’s join hands and pray.”
Yes, pray before you start dealing with the situation. Let anyone willing to pray, pray as well.
“Okay, I’m not sure how or why this started, but we need to figure it out.”
This is followed by a discussion of what went wrong and how the communication deteriorated. Try to be matter-of-fact and calm.
“Okay, so let’s walk back through this and everyone share how they could have communicated and responded differently.”
Another talk where each one shares ONLY how they could have done things differently.
“Let’s have some apologies now.”
Everyone who needs to apologize does apologize.
“Okay. Redo! Everyone back to their places. On your mark, get set, restart.”
My kids loved this! We walked back through everything. Only this time, we did it the right way. This helped my kids a lot (as they tell me now) to not just know what they did wrong, but how to do it right.
This is not a one-time, one-week, or even one-year fix! You have to persevere! You will have to deal with stepping in and working through these quarrels over and over again. Arguing is part of the sin nature (flesh) and rears its head often.
However, you will see fighting get less and less and eventually your children will treat one another with love and kindness.
Stay the course and don’t give up!
Help for Your Homeschooling Journey
If you want to learn more about loving your family and homeschooling, I encourage you to read Joyful and Successful Homeschooling.
Would you like to learn more about our homeschool adventures? Would you like to meet our family and learn how we homeschooled for three decades?
From home management and homeschool administration to learning styles, teaching methods, family ministry, and extracurricular choices, this books has it all. There is also a section on “Subjects You Will Teach” that covers each subject one by one, giving tips on what to teach and how to teach it. This is a massive book (660 pages) packed with practical wisdom for families who want to experience joy and success in their homeschooling journeys.
Until next time, Happy Homeschooling!