by Jill Savage

adapted from My Hearts at Home
Do you ever feel like your house feels more like a boxing arena than a home?  Do you tire of the arguing and fighting that happens between your children?  If so you may need to do what the Savage family had to do.  We made a decision to turn sibling rivalry into sibling revelry.   
In his book Keep The Siblings, Lose The Rivalry, author Todd Cartmell tells us there are three reasons we have sibling rivalry:
            Reason #3: You have more than one child.
            Reason #2: Your children live in the same house.
            Reason #1: Your children’s living-together skills are still developing.
            There’s not too much a parent can do about numbers 2 and 3, but some intentional strategy in approaching reason number 1 is what we found helpful in turning sibling rivalry into sibling revelry.
o       Strategy #1:  Play Together
            Every child longs to belong.  When families intentionally spend time together they increase the family bond, ultimately helping each family member feel they are a part of something bigger than themselves. 
o       Strategy #2: Connect Individually
            Children won’t vie for your attention if they know they have it already.  Make each child feel like an only child by taking the kids out on dates with one or both parents, taking them school shopping by themselves, or spending time laying on their bed at night talking.
o       Strategy #3: Set Clear Standards and Expectations
            Most of the time, kids will rise to the standard that is set.  When we deal with misbehavior it is often because the child is looking for the boundary line.  Let your family know that sibling respect is the standard in your family.  We call family meetings to set standards, call everyone back to a standard that is slipping, or brainstorm ways we can encourage one another.
o       Strategy #4: Model and Teach Healthy Conflict Resolution Skills
            If Joey and Suzie see mom and dad yell and scream at one another in conflict, you can almost bet the two siblings will handle conflict the same way.  If you and your spouse don’t resolve conflict with healthy communication skills, seek out help in developing conflict management skills that will take your marriage the distance and foster healthy family relationships. 
            Yes, kids will be kids.  They will argue and disagree.  But they don’t have to be disrespectful when they do.  A strategy to change rivalry to revelry helps keep our home an emotionally safe place to be.   

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