Monday Mentor Mom: How to deal with sibling fights

March 12, 2012 in siblings

I’ve never loved Mondays until I started Monday Mentor Moms. I love soaking up the wisdom others offer here. Today’s mentor is a mom I only know through blogging (she blogs at Positively Alene). The lack of personal time together doesn’t lessen the wise words she shares today through a beautifully told story. Thank you so much Alene for sharing and if you, dear reader,  have time, say thank you to Alene by leaving a comment or checking out her blog. Now get comfy, grab your favorite hot drink and soak. 

Alene’s kids, all grown up
It is such an honor to be here at Pruning Princessestoday. I take the invitation seriously when someone asks if I can mentor or share about what I’ve learned on my journey, especially when it comes to kids and their lives.
A little about me: I’ve been married for almost 30 years and 23 of those were in the military. We have since retired from the military and now live in Corpus Christi, Texas where I write, speak, teach and love to wear pink shoes. I have raised three beautiful children – two girls, the youngest (19) and the oldest (24), and a boy (22) sandwiched smack dab in the middle of them. And it is hard to believe, but my son will be married this May to a girl I already call my third daughter. You can read about their engagement HERE.
As my kids were growing up it was very important to me that family be number one. I didn’t want to just say that, I wanted the way the kids played and interacted with one another to reflect that we were a close family. Growing up in a family where my siblings and I fought like cats and dogs (not that mom approved) I wanted more for my children.
We were a tight family that enjoyed one another, which was a blessing! We had just made another military move about the time the kids ended up in elementary and it seemed that out of nowhere there was bickering between the kids. There were quarrels and name calling. I heard constantly, “Mom, she called me the S-word!” I was glad when I realized that word was stupid because my mind was thinking of worse.
Coming up with a solution, I sat the kids down and explained to them how negative words made others feel and that it took four positive words to make up for one negative word. I then began to layout our new rules for the home:
  1. Any time I heard one of them say something negative to or about one of their siblings, they would both have to come together in front of me.
  2. The one who had said the negative words would have to apologize.
  3. They would then have to say two positive statements about their sibling to make up for the negative treatment.
They kids agreed to their new set of rules (like they had a choice) and we were off and running with peace permeating the home. I thought I was genius as for a few days there wasn’t any bickering or name-calling.
Then it happened–the squabble broke out which ended in name-calling. I called them in to me and reminded them of the situation we were in and what our new rules were.
The guilty one quickly apologized, while staring blankly at the ground I might add. Then I said, “Now, you need to tell your sister two positive and encouraging things to help her feel better.”
Oh. My. Goodness. You would have thought I was asking him to recite the whole 13thChapter out of 1stCorinthians about love. He balked. He squirmed. He swayed. He glared at the floor. Then finally he squeaked out,“I like your shoes.”Then he balked some more. He squirmed even more. And swayed as he whispered, “You’re good at gymnastics.”
As a mom baring witness to this moment of awkwardness, I wasn’t sure how to act. As I thanked him for the positive comments, I wanted to laugh out loud. I then reminded them both that this was the new rule in our house.
I’d love to tell you we never had another squabble break out, but we did.We followed through with the new rule and eventually the conflicts between the kids subsided. As they grew older they learned how to work through their differences and as I watch them today as young adults it is such a blessing to see how close they are. It was worth the trouble and discipline to train them on what was appropriate behavior and what was not.
Moms, you set the tone. When our children are flustered and yelling at each other, it is so easy for us to react if we don’t have a plan in place. If you find yourself in this season of life where your children are bickering, you take responsibility (no matter their ages) and set the tone for your home.
May we always be mindful of how our words are so influential in others lives, no matter what our age.When we can take the time to train our children to new habits of positive behavior it will benefit them and our families all their days ahead.
And by the way,“I like your shoes!”
You can connect with Alene at her blog Positively Alene, Facebook, and Twitter
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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Positively Alene March 12, 2012 at 2:25 pm

Thank you so much for having me over today to share. I hope these words bless and encourage some mom out there today! Blessings sweet friend.


Michele {A Life Surrendered} March 12, 2012 at 9:17 pm

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Michele {A Life Surrendered} March 12, 2012 at 9:18 pm

Love this… as we deal with sibling rivalry everyday… I am always looking for practical ways to resolve conflict in a Christ-like manner…

Blessings to you Alene and Pruning Princess 🙂


BARBIE March 12, 2012 at 11:00 pm

Great advice Alene! It’s so important for me to remain calm when my children are arguing, instead of reacting to the situation, which I tend to do more often than not.


Positively Alene March 13, 2012 at 1:15 am

Thanks Michele – it reminds me of that saying “if momma ain’t happy, ain’t no one happy!” So true how we set the tone by our words and actions. We make such a difference.


Lisa March 15, 2012 at 11:47 am

Great insights, Alene! Thanks so much for sharing!



Anonymous May 18, 2012 at 7:07 pm

Laura – I’ve missed your mentor mom posts recently! Hope all is well.

Also, I have been following this “say sorry and 2 nice things” approach with my girls for the last few months. I have mixed feelings about it though. It certainly always ends the conflict, but they are just going through the motions without truly feeling apologetic. There is no true remorse. Any thoughts on that?



Positively Alene May 21, 2012 at 3:12 pm

Hey Mitali – great question. I get what you are saying and as well noticed that, but what it did in our household was create a new habit. So many times our actions need to change before our hearts do. Meaning, even if they weren’t sorry they were creating a new habit to think about what they were saying first. They also realized this mom was not going to tolerate that behavior in our home, which set a great tone for the teen years that followed. I knew my job as a mom was to set the tone for the home, as well as train their hearts and actions, this was just a process that worked for us. I’d love to hear how your process is going regardless of true remorse. Are habits changing? Can you sense more peace settling into your home? Thanks girl!


Anonymous May 23, 2012 at 3:34 am

Thanks for your response, Alene. I hadn’t thought about changing behavior as a first step to a change of heart. You are absolutely right. Also, from a practical standpoint, the only thing I can enforce is a shift in behavior. There is certainly far less name calling, although jealousy and issues of fairness are still commonplace. One step at a time I guess. Thanks again!



Denise June 3, 2012 at 12:27 pm

I will definitely need to put that rule in place here.


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