If you have more than one child then I suspect you’ve been saddened at least once over the way they treated each other. We all dream of our children holding hands, laughing, and lovingly living life together. Unfortunately the term “Sibling Rivalry” is all too often an accurate description of things. We know adults today whose relationship with a brother or sister is still strained because of things that happened as children. One of the great lessons about raising siblings comes from the medical industry.
Having some fun together!
Every doctor must take an oath in order to be licensed in the medical profession. That oath, called the Hippocratic Oath can be summed up in three powerful words – Do No Harm! When it comes to raising multiple kids; though it’s a different principle, those same three words apply. We wanted to replace rivalry with affection. But we learned, before there can be affection; we had to stop the bleeding. In other words, in order to work on the positive side of the relationship; we had to cutoff the negative side first.
Similar to medicine, it does little good to fix a cut on the patients arm if you give them medicine that will kill them. Too often we allow our little guys to inflict harm on each other in the name of “normal” sibling rivalry. We took a page out of the doctor’s manual and it changed everything. When our kids were little, we didn’t accept teasing and bullying as “normal” sibling behavior. Instead, early on, we were committed to “Do No Harm”.
It takes energy and discipline, but the payoff is huge. As they get older and start approaching those double digit ages, they don’t have a pile of baggage with each other to overcome. When they are old enough to understand; the conversations about serving and supporting their siblings are more easily received. Certainly they must still learn to relate with each other. But how much easier it is when you don’t start the relationship with a deficit.
Here are a couple of simple ideas to encourage your kids to “Do No Harm”.
1) 2 Good Things: If we heard one of our kids teasing or insulting their sibling then they were required to say two positive things about that person. It had to be something they had control over. For instance, “you have nice eyes,” wouldn’t fly because they had nothing to do with that. It needed to be something like, “I like when you play basketball with me.”
2) No Friends Unless: If our kids had trouble getting along, then they weren’t allowed to have friends over or go to a friend’s house. The principle was, we aren’t going to be nice to people out there and then be awful to the people in our home. It gave them motivation to work on their brother and sister relationships.
Let’s change sibling rivalry into sibling affection. For us the fruit has been very rewarding as our kids have entered their adult years. Our older kids work hard to be together. They have deep and caring relationships with each other. And it started with a simply principle – Do No Harm!
How did you and your siblings do growing up? How about your kids?