Dealing with Children’s Unkindness
The final key I would like to consider for dealing with physical unkindness between siblings would be the attitude of Mom’s heart. When we see one child hurting another child, our first response might be one of anger. However, it is quite obvious that if we respond to the child in anger, we affirm the attitude in the child that we want to eliminate.
“The wise in heart shall be called prudent: and the sweetness of the lips increaseth learning” (Proverbs 16:21). Teaching our children godly, loving behavior starts with our own attitudes, words, and actions. Sweetness of the lips is much more powerful than yelling or even negative tones in our voices. Gentle firmness helps keep the child’s heart attached to ours while we are working toward a change of behavior.
Stopping the Negative Thoughts
What you do with your thoughts can make all the difference in your responses to your children when they are not being nice to each other. Second Corinthians 10:5 tells us to take our thoughts captive and bring them into the obedience of Christ.
That means you can think, “I hate it when my children fight with each other. They know better. I am sick and tired of having to deal with them time after time, day after day.” Or you can think, “Lord Jesus, I am so blessed to be the mother of these children. Thank You for entrusting them to me. Help me, Lord, to direct their thoughts and their behavior to express the love You want them to have for each other. Lord Jesus, I know You are working in their lives, and You are working in my life. Thank You, thank You, thank You, Jesus.”
Which thoughts do you believe will help you have a patient and loving attitude toward your children when you correct them for wrong behavior? Which thoughts will give you stamina and determination to be consistent in working with your children? Which thoughts will allow you to put a smile on your face and move on with your day positively after a situation with the children?
I can attest to having done it both ways, and I was way more successful and way happier with myself when I took the route of the second set of thoughts. The first set hurtled me into a pit of self-pity from which it was almost impossible to climb out. The second set put my mind on the Lord Jesus, the gratitude He tells me to have, and the possibility of a brighter future.
Should Children Apologize?
I had an e-mail from a mom after the other articles in this series. I wouldn’t be surprised if others are wondering about the same thing. Here is what she asks:
“After I read your article on children and fighting, I wondered how you handled apologies. Did you have your children apologize to each other (even when they weren’t really sorry) and/or make restitution? I have tried this at times, but it often leads to greater pride and a sense of entitlement rather than mercy and grace. Any thoughts?”
Yes, we did have our children ask forgiveness of each other. We avoided “I’m sorry,” because it doesn’t require a response from the other person. If there is a response, it often is, “It’s okay.” The reality is that it wasn’t okay. However, we encouraged them to say, “Will you please forgive me?” and then express what they needed forgiveness for. That gave the other child the opportunity for a verbal response and to release negative emotions he might have been feeling.
It was obvious that sometimes the words were said—on both sides—without the heart being involved. They were children, though, and that wasn’t surprising. We still wanted them to learn the biblical path to handling offenses and wrongs. We were helping our children develop a habit that we prayed would be heartfelt as they developed emotional and spiritual maturity, even if it that didn’t happen in childhood.
Homeschool Home Organization
As we conclude this series on siblings fighting, I want to emphasize again the innumerable benefits of an organized home. In this case, it will help you avoid the stress and heartaches that result from children quarreling. A peaceful, organized home guided with a schedule and effective chore system keeps family members productive, occupied, and often helps lift Mom’s burden of not only keeping a clean home and but also of having to deal with fighting children.
Here is a real-life example of that from a mom who had used Managers of Their Homes to help her develop a schedule.
“Today we were talking at dinner about our schedule when I asked the children how they felt about it. The seven-year-old said he likes having a schedule because it helps him behave better. Wanting to know more, I asked him why he would behave better on a schedule. He said, ‘Because everything has an order, and we know what to do. Also Mom is calmer, and I don’t fight with my brother so much.’
“The four-year-old said, ‘I like the schedule because there is a time for my brother to play with me so I don’t have to beg! And Mommy plays with me more.’” Kathy
If you don’t have a schedule or a successful chore system, I strongly suggest that you getManagers of Their Homes and Managers of Their Chores , read, and implement them. They have helped tens of thousands of moms toward their goal of a peaceful, organized home, and I know they will help you as well.
If you have them, and aren’t currently utilizing what you have learned from them, summer is a great time to bring out your old friends, reread them, and put a schedule and chore system in place for the coming school year.
I know some days—or maybe most days—with little children, you feel like all you do is correct and redirect their behavior. May I encourage you with this verse: “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Galatians 6:9). Your goal is children who love Jesus, love others, and live for Him. Oh what peace! Oh what joy! It is worth it! Be encouraged to stay the course!