As a mom of 3 children under the age of 10, this is a strategy that I hear talked about all the time. At face value it sounds logical and simple, but in practice, I’m not so sure. If picking your battles means making a spur of the moment decision about how to handle a situation, then I haven’t found this to be very helpful in our household.
Our biggest issue these days is sibling rivalry. I admit that sibling conflict is pretty much inevitable, but it doesn’t have to destroy the family unit. Here are just 4 things that we have put into place (ahead of time) that have really helped in our house.
- Each child needs to know just how important they are as a member of the family. God has made each of us in His image. He has given each of us special gifts that are unique and valuable. Make an effort to BE together. If possible, take turns going places or doing things that highlight each person’s strengths. As an example, my son is a terrific reader. He can often be found with a book in his hands. As a homeschooling help to me, I allow him to read aloud to his sisters to share his love of reading and to encourage them. Each child needs a chance to shine.
- Today’s society would have you think that every issue has a gray area. Not so in our house! Some behaviors are just NOT acceptable, PERIOD! For instance, it is never ok to be physically aggressive with one another, whether during play or out of anger. My kids test me on this, all the time. But, I’m determined to do my best to help them learn self control. This behavior is dealt with swiftly and strongly. There is no talking their way out of this one.
- Say what you mean, and mean what you say. This means that if you have decided on a consequence for a certain bad behavior, then you need to follow through! My kids need to know when I mean business! If all I do is threaten, then they learn to be master manipulators. Likewise, if I’ve said I would allow them to do something as a reward for good behavior, then I need to be prepared to part the Red Sea to make it happen.
- Take the time to really listen to your children. When they are having a problem, listen to what they are saying. Give them your full attention while you are letting them talk. Get down to their level and look them in the eye. I have been amazed at times, to learn that the real problem isn’t even close to what I thought it was. Sometimes, they just need to be heard and know that they matter.
I’ve noticed a significant change in their behavior since implementing some of these ideas into our family. We are together a lot more now that we are a homeschooling family and much to my surprise, there have been very few conflicts! If you’re going to “pick your battles”, I encourage you to decide how you’re going to handle it ahead of time! Sibling peace is achievable!
Nancy is a homeschooling mom of 3, wife to her one and only and a cancer survivor. You can read more about her journey by visiting BE NOT AFRAID.