Sibling Rivalry

Here's how to call a truce to your kids' squabbling

"She always gets to have a friend over, and I never do!"

"They won't let me play with them. They leave me out!"

"It's not fair! Why are you punishing me when it was her fault?"

If these scenes sound familiar, you're not alone. Sibling rivalry's as old as the Old Testament account of Cain and Abel (Genesis 4)—and families experience its frustrations every day.

Here are some tools not only to keep your kids from driving you and each other crazy, but to help them learn to become friends.

The Early Years (Ages 1-10)

Now's the time your children's character begins to develop. That's why you'll find yourself intervening a lot during this parenting era. Think of yourself as a coach who's training your kids in the fundamentals of getting along. Try these practical tips to make this stage easier:

Prepare for a new baby.

Once you know you're expecting, start giving your older child a positive vision of the kind of brother he'll be. For example, tell him, "Our new baby's so fortunate to have you for a big brother."

As the mom of five, every time I had another baby, I'd wrap a gift for each child at home and put it in the trunk of our car. When I came home from the hospital, new baby in tow, these gifts came home, too—as the new baby's gift to each sibling. With each gift was a note that said, "I'm so glad you're my big sister or brother!"

With each new child, my husband and I also prayed a special prayer with our kids, asking God to help us learn to be good parents, brothers, and sisters.

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May 25

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