Help for Homeschool Siblings’ Relationships
Vision for Your Children’s Sibling Relationships
What do you want your children’s relationship to be like when they are adults? How do you envision them interacting with one another once they are not living under the same roof? One day they will each be out on their own with their own careers, pursuits, and families. What is that going to look like?
Do you want them to support each other emotionally and physically when in need or conversely, do you fear they will grow apart and rarely speak to one another? What do you want holidays and family reunions to look and feel like?
Grounded in a Harsh World
As homeschoolers we have a unique and wonderful opportunity to develop incredibly profound family bonds. Our children can truly be each other’s best friends. In a world where people and friendships can be as fleeting as a dandelion in the summer wind, it is imperative that we help our children fix themselves to one another and form healthy relationships.
A Blessing… or A Curse?
Our children’s relationships with one another can be one of their biggest blessings, one of the most precious gifts in their lives, if we teach them to love and respect one another. If we let this slide, and ignore inconsiderate or hurtful behavior these relationships can be one of the most painful memories of their childhood.
What can we do as homeschool parents to foster healthy relationships between our children?
Turn your Mama Bear on Yourself
Consider this, how do you respond when you are upset? Do you yell, or ignore? Do you talk through the problem, or ignore it and wait for it to go away, or do you yell? How would you respond if someone else treated your child the way you do when you are upset?
Before responding in a heated situation (please remember that ignoring is also a response), stop and breathe deeply and try to think logically about whatever is going on. The old adage of “stop and count to ten” is no joke. Count to 100 if you need to, or even 500! When we count, it engages our thinking brain, and deactivates our feeling brain and allows us to not come back at our families emotionally.
Once you have calmed yourself down, be intentional about how you respond. Our kids learn how to communicate by watching and interacting with us. Remind yourself before you act, that when your children are upset, they will do the same thing to their siblings. This will either make or break their relationships.
Teach them to consider how the other person is feeling. If they were in that situation, how they want to be treated? Prompt them to answer the question; “What can I do to show forgiveness, kindness, and grace in this moment, right now?”
It is good for everyone in the family to first ponder “what is it like to have me for a brother/sister/mother/father/daughter/son?” Secondly, we should all ask ourselves, “How can I improve how that feels to the other person?”
Cultivate Healthy Communication
When kids are bickering and fighting, encourage them to take a step back and think about what the first thing that triggered them was. Often they are most upset about something that happened earlier and didn’t address it. They become agitated and things spiral out of control.
It helps kids to help them take a step back when they are upset and identify what the first thing was that happened to upset them, and respectfully tell the other person how it made them feel when he or she did that initial thing.
Coach the kids on having a respectful conversation, act as their mediator to teach them how to communicate. Click here to get a free Sibling Mediator Guide to help you guide your kids through meaningful conversations when they are in conflict.
Unconditional Love, No Comparing
Avoid Comparisons at all costs. One of the worst things we can do to our children, is to make them believe that we wish they were like their sibling.
At all costs, avoid the words “Why can’t you be like your brother or sister?” How would we feel if our significant other or spouse said the same thing to us? “Why can’t you be more like your sister or brother?”
This is a damaging and hurtful statement, that we should not use.
Each of our children and wonderfully unique and we will do well to make them feel valued and cherished, even in their ugliest and hardest moments. If we compare our kids to one another, they will learn to hate each other.
Fun, the Glue that Holds Them Together
Our children’s lives will be filled with hardships and stress, this inevitable. By intentionally carving out time in the schedule to plan fun activities, we create the space for experiences that will glue them together. When they have positive experiences full of laughter and good memories of being together, it lays the foundation of support for when hard times come.
They will be fused together in love and friendship, then in hard times, they will turn to each other first. The reality in our world today is that friends come and go, but healthy sibling relationships can stand the test of time in the most precious way.
Always remember that in your homeschool, family relationships are the most important thing of all. “Rules without relationship results in rebellion.” Josh McDowell