Have you had it up to here with sibling fighting between your kids? I know how you feel. We were there too until we discovered this tool that really helped reduce sibling rivalry in our home. It has fast become one of the most powerful tools that helps foster joy, contentment and an atmosphere where siblings thrive. Here I share one of the two best tools, why it works and more importantly, how you can create incorporate it into your family.
“It’s another boy!” the doctor told me during my first ultrasound.
Although I was hoping for a girl, I was thrilled my first son would have a brother.
Maybe it’s because I do not have any biological siblings, but I loved that I would be having 2 boys to enjoy, love and dote on.
My older son would have a best friend and someone who always had his back.
And then they got older.
As they got older the sibling rivalry, fighting and bickering increased. It was driving me crazy and hurting my mama’s heart.
This was not the relationship I wanted for my boys.
It wasn’t that they didn’t like each other. In fact, they loved each other very much. But they became so competitive and impatient with each other.
Their fighting was disrupting the joyful mood of our home. The earlier giggling and chit-chatting about silly things got lesser and lesser.
Now it was all about who was better than the other, which one added another trophy to his collection or was faster on the field or basketball court.
I’m not sure how sports and competition became the litmus test for who was doing well in our house. But somehow it was.
It was painful to watch and to hear and bothered me so much.
I prayed daily for God to help change their hearts and give them a bond that was unbreakable. God responded with a unique method I had not heard about before.
A UNIQUE APPROACH – THE SIBLING PLEDGE
My mom was visiting us and noticed the tension between the boys as well. She started doing daily Bible study with the kids after school (despite their protests) and one day she invited them to form a circle, hold hands and tell each other what they love about the other.
Thus, the sibling pledge was born.
We saw the difference almost immediately. Little by little, they were being kinder, apologizing quicker and speaking with respect to each other.
We have tweaked the sibling pledge a little but in short, it has three important components:
- Each sibling addresses each person individually. Since I have three kids, one brother will address the other brother, then speak directly to his sister.
- Holding hands is not necessary but I think it’s helpful for siblings to be close to each other and look at the other person directly.
- It is short and sweet.
WHY IT WORKS
Still with me? Chances are you’re probably thinking that will while this might sound like a great idea, your kids will never go for it.
I get it. My oldest son called it “lame” the first time we tried it. Did it stop me from trying? Nope! And now it’s one of the most helpful things we have done for their relationship.
The Sibling Pledge is essentially a reminder. It reminds the other person that they are part of something bigger; part of a family where each is important, seen, valued and contributes to the mood in the home.
Parents can provide guidance to help siblings share their feeling but try to make this as organic and natural as possible.
For example, the boys will say to each other: (Name), I love you. I thank God for giving me a brother like you. I promise to be kind to you and to always build you up. I pray that God bless you always.
Fast, simple and yet so powerful.
The other sibling can say something similar back until all siblings have said it to each other.
If you’d like, you can also take this one step further and make this a family pledge. This would be great too if you have one child or an older child who has a very young sibling.
The parents can say it to each other, then to the children. It would be a great addition to your weekly family meetings.
Not only does it strengthen the bond of the siblings but it further supports the bond between spouses and partners as well.
Image every week hearing your partner tell you that he/she is committed to supporting you and that they thank God for you?
This alone is worth giving the Pledge a try in your home.
HOW TO START
The best time to introduce this new idea is when you are all relaxed and gathered in the same room.
Please don’t do it right before a big football game when all the guys want to do it watch some football (guilty).
It also does not go over well right after the kids have had a major argument. (double guilty) It’s essentially the same as telling one sibling to say sorry and tell the other he/she loves him/her when they are both seething mad. Not a good idea.
My family has a family meeting (almost) every week. Sundays tend to be the best days for us because we are almost always home on Sunday evening as we prepare and rest for the coming week.
- READING: After dinner, my husband does a short reading of the day – usually the gospel reading or one that he feels is appropriate for that day. We go around for a few minutes talking about what we think the reading meant. I’m often blown away but how insightful the kid’s responses are after listening to the readings.
- PETITIONS: After that, we go around and say our petitions for the week. I encourage the kids to be really specific with their request. They pray for upcoming tests and schoolwork, for special friends and my oldest always prays that he will not be anxious or overwhelmed during the coming week.
- PRAYER: Once we have said our petitions we present them to our Blessed Mother Mary and ask her to present them to her son Jesus on our behalf. Each person then says 2 Hail Mary’s since there are 5 of us which makes it a total of 10 Hail Mary’s which is a decade from the Rosary. Adjust this to the number in your family until you have said a total of 10 altogether. If your family does not do the Rosary you can say a short prayer or just do the part of the petition.
- SIBLING PLEDGE: We end with the sibling and family pledge. And that’s it.
The whole thing takes no more than 30 minutes.
Full disclaimer here. If you’re imagining a scene where we are all sitting quietly with our eyes closed, heads bowed and hands clasped and the kids are reverent the entire time you’re probably thinking of a different family.
In truth, sometimes the kids don’t want to come to family meetings, especially in the beginning. Sometimes they are fidgety. Someone always seems to get into a laughing fit right before we start.
But you know what, while it’s not perfect, and I try my hardest not to get upset over it, we still do it. And the more often we do it the easier it gets and the better all of us behave (especially me).
DOES IT REALLY WORK?
I can tell you with full honesty, that the sibling pledge has been a game-changer for our family. There are times when we miss our family meetings and we have to do the pledge mid-week when we notice the boys are being impatient with each other.
Just the other day my boys said they had something they wanted me to see and then proceeded to show me the secret handshake they made up together.
Of course, I went overboard with the compliments and telling them how much I love seeing them love on each other.
The sibling pledge can be a great addition to your parenting toolbox. However, it is not the only thing that you should try for your family.
In fact, I continue to pray for my kids that they always remain close and love each other. We emphasize the importance of respect in our home and constantly remind the kids of our family motto. (If you want to know more about our motto, grab the download below) They know that being rude, hitting or putting each other down is not how things are done here.
If you are dealing with sibling rivalry in your home I encourage you to try the sibling pledge.
If you’re interested in starting this powerful tradition in your family, I’ve created a helpful guide to get you started. It covers:
- What to include in your pledge
- How to get your spouse involved
- How to ensure that you stick to it.
- Creating a family motto
- Sibling Poem for their room
I would love to hear from you if you’ve tried it. Please share below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Until next time, I wish you peace, love and abundant joy!