Sibling Love, not Rivalry

"Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves." 

Romans 12:10

 Teach Sharing:

 Sharing is a learned behavior. If they see us sharing with a happy heart, they will think that is the normal thing to do. If we are not sharing with a happy heart or not even at all, they will think they do not have to, either. First, be a good role model for the children. Not all children will immediately follow their parents suit. It will still need to be something they need reminding. It will require consistency. I know how tiring it is at the time. But, I promise if you keep being consistent, then you will reap the benefits of the rewards. As they grow older it will be easier for them to share and easier for them to mean it from the heart. If you teach the older child the value in sharing, then it will "trickle-down" to the next child. 

Making a big deal out of being the "Big Brother/Sister":

When you're about to bring a baby into the world, it will completely change the other child's life. They will not be the only one anymore. He will not get as much attention. He will have to share time and love from his parents. That's why it is important to teach sharing even if they are only children. Before the next baby is born, we talk to the kids and make a big deal that they are going to be "Big Brothers." I tell about how exciting it will be that they will have someone looking up to them and loving them. I talk about how wonderful it will be that they can teach them to ride a bike so they can play together. How they will have someone that will play with them! I make a really big deal out of them being a "new big brother"!  I say it with enthusiasm in my voice, as if it's the best thing to ever happen in their life. 

Start with baby:

When we bring the baby home I make a big deal out of them being able to hold the baby, loving and rocking him. I take pictures and video. I do not give them chores to do that make them responsible for taking care of the baby. That will only lead to resentment. But, I do let them feel free to be able to chose how they help. Sometimes they want to rock the baby, sometimes they don't. Sometimes they want a turn to feed the baby a bottle, sometimes they don't. I don't pressure them to do anything. But, when they do I express gratefulness excitedly! I love to encourage them to read and sing to the baby. My boys learn many new Bible songs at church. And cute as it is, the baby will calm down and listen when they sing. Well, unless something is seriously wrong! But otherwise, it makes the older boy feel special to make the little one happy.  I teach the boys to be gentle and loving. Boys are not naturally this way. So , I have to model this behavior. Sometimes I have to take their hand and do it for them to show what gentle really means. When you make the older child feel like the baby is someone who is a very special part of their lives, they will not be resentful with rivalry, but filled with love.

Teach Love and Respect:

Modeling love and respect teaches the child to be loving and respectful. This is a major factor when it comes to how siblings respond to each other as they get older. If you have two very young toddlers, naturally they will argue over a toy. They are still so young that they have not fully grasped the concept of the benefits of sharing. We are to help these toddlers along, by explaining that everyone will be happy in the long run. Later, they will see how good it feels to make someone happy, but until then just be consistent. Practically speaking, if your little ones argue over something, take it away from both of them. One is being disrespectful for wanting to take the toy away from his brother, the other is not showing love by sharing. Tell them this and when they learn to take turns sharing nicely then they can have the toy back. Soon you will see your little ones discussing who gets the toy first instead of arguing over it. This also holds true in other areas. We've had disagreements over who gets in the van first, who opens the door first, who says prayer first. There are other creative ideas for some issues like these. Like taking turns in birth order, etc...  

For older children(elementary age) sharing will come naturally if it is introduced the right way when they are babies and toddlers. 

Teaching to respect others belongings:

Start with teaching the younger children this: If it's not theirs, they need to ask permission before using "it." After they use "it," they have to return it in the same condition or even better than when they borrowed it. If they do not, they are not allowed to borrow it anymore. If they know there are consequences, the boys on each end know what will happen. It makes it easier for one to share with the other if they know any misbehavior will be followed through with consequence. 

We also start by teaching them to respect their own belongings. They are responsible for their own things. They have to keep their things on their shelves, in closets, or in their drawers. They will see how well their brother takes take of their things and will be glad to share. If they see their brother is irresponsible, they will not be happy to share. 

Do Not Compare:

We purposely do not compare the boys with each other or with anyone else! We let them know that God made each one of them very special. And they all play a very special part in our family. It can be easy to say, "Why can't you just obey me the first time like him?", "Why don't you try hard like him?", "When will you care like he does?". There are many ways we can compare siblings without even knowing it. Be conscience of what you say and how you say it.  Remember, it is also the tone of your voice. 

We accentuate the positive of each child. We make them feel loved and know they are loved just for who they are and how God made them!