This morning I was thinking about sibling rivalry, one of the main reasons why kids argue. Our kids want to compete to earn what the other one has. The ironic part of conflict under these circumstances is that kids cannot get what they are seeking.
Kids seek after position. Younger kids want to be older so that they have privileges. Older kids want to be younger so that they can get more attention. Every argument between our children ends up being one child seeking the position of the other child. As a result, our kids begin fighting a losing battle.
How do we deal with this sibling rivalry? We are careful in our words and actions. Instead of granting rewards based on position, we grant them based on hard work and character. Instead of saying "Your sister can do ... because she is the oldest," say "Your sister can do ... because she has worked hard enough to accomplish her goal." That is teaching kids that they can be rewarded based on hard work, not age or position.
Second, grant rewards out of love and care. Rather than being tough on an oldest children, give them grace because you care for them. We tend to reward our oldest children the least and punish them the most. When we give them grace, they are relieved from the pressures of life, and they will not use their position against their siblings. However, if we are too tough on them, they see that all that they endured has given them positional authority and a right to an inflated self-esteem. This will not serve them well in life. Kids can learn to lead and do good for one another by serving and caring for one another. As parents, we need to encourage goodness by showing them grace.
Third, grant rewards based on the interests of your kids. One child might really appreciate you taking him to see a movie. Another child might appreciate going to the park. Another child might like you to make him a special dessert for the day. Siblings can be happy for one another when Mom and Dad have taken the time to be a blessing and show that they care.
Thanks for reading!