Monday, May 18, 2015

Sibling Rivalry—Part 2

by Betty Jackson

Jesus is the Prince of Peace

There is no substitute for the Bible to educate the consciences of our children in how they are to treat others. Failing to teach our children what God wants in our homes, by neglecting the Scriptures, or by failing to live it, is a woeful error. Jesus is the Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6).  We are to be a peaceable people (Matt. 5:9; Rom.12:18; Heb.12:14). Yet, we need to realize that the disposition of putting others before oneself is a learned behavior (cf. Phil. 2:1-4).  We surely will never master this virtue perfectly

By design babies are self-centered for survival. Gradually, with deliberate effort during formative years a child can be properly led to have concern for his fellows. Children who learn early in life to think of others, to have a servant's heart, will be more apt to become God's servant. 

Parents need to be examples of self-control, courtesy, and mercy. Parents who are more concerned with training, than control, will not be unnecessarily harsh. Anger and power will be effective only as long as parents are bigger and stronger. Parents who are always mad and mean when they discipline (or in their disagreements with one another) are teaching the false idea that might makes right. Parents who crave complete control of their children may be creating in their children a lust for power, or the opposite—rebellion to throw off overbearing control. How can we be recipients of the Lord's long-suffering, mercy and goodness, yet fail to extend tender mercy and patience toward our children? A wonderful passage of scripture for parents to think about is Lamentations 3:22-23:

"It is of Jehovah's loving-kindnesses that we are not consumed because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness."

Children should be encouraged, taught, and allowed to work things out on their own. Don't encourage tattling by responding as an umpire for every incident. Lay some ground rules for settling differences.These rules are not necessarily laid out by preaching a long list, but are learned from what is acceptable and explained as needed. Make suggestions for how they might compromise with each other. When necessary, separate children with some "time out" for thinking about resolutions.

When children are embroiled in an ugly disagreement, understand that you usually cannot find out who the innocent party may be—likely there is none! However, if you know that one child is consistently criticizing or bullying another, the situation needs to be remedied by age appropriate, strong and consistent disciplinary measures. Bullying can come in various styles. Hitting or tattling, criticizing, taunting, loud crying to get one's way, pretending to be innocent—can be methods of a little power-thirsty child!

 It Is Never Right To Do Wrong

Fussing that escalates into verbal abuse or blows must be stopped. Simply do not allow it, regardless of who started it. It is wrong, period. Self-control must be taught. Angry screaming and hitting is not right. It must be corrected even if the screamer has been the victim of selfishness or bullying. Do not allow wrong behavior. Disagreeing is not wrong. But differences must be settled by cooperation, or in agreement to disagree, and not by who is the loudest, meanest, or who cries the most!  

Name calling, hitting, biting, etc. need to be corrected the same way you would discipline any other behavior that you are trying to eliminate. Children who are allowed to use their fists, hateful words or pouting to solve their problems or to get their way may grow up into belligerent, manipulative or mean adults. Rules of behavior need to be understood. Both positive and negative re-enforcement have their places in teaching children to live peaceably with one another. In extreme cases, that may include a good old-fashioned, biblical spanking (Prov. 13:24; 22:15; 23:13; 29:15,17). Though this is an unacceptable method of discipline in many circles today, it is an effective and right tool. We admit that many parents who practice corporal punishment do not know how to use it effectively. It should be an "event," used with careful measure, for deliberate rebelliousness or repetitive disobedience, and not as an outburst of parental anger.  

Teach children to genuinely apologize to one another. When you have violated principles of right conduct with your spouse before them, let them hear you apologize. When you treat your child badly, apologize and make it right. But do not be over-indulgent just because you have been too harsh. They will learn to be more sincere as their consciences mature, and they witness your sincerity over your own poor behaviors. At first, this may be foreign to them, but habitually expecting each family member to become sorry for wrong actions will reap great rewards, eventually. Never be prideful, refusing to correct your own wrong-doings.

Be sure that you are giving enough attention to your children. It seems that when parents are sidetracked with other responsibilities, war breaks out! If other tasks are unavoidably demanding attention, give them something to do (nap, work, reading, well chosen media. etc.) before trouble begins. Spend individual time with each child. Your child may open up and talk when he has your undivided attention.These are wonderful informal opportunities for teaching our children about the way God wants us to behave.

Be cautious about the kind of entertainment your children have. Studies have shown that youngsters who watch violent programs, exhibit more aggressive, hateful behaviors. Media games are not wrong per se, providing they are carefully chosen for content, as well as time limited.  A steady diet of the fast moving action can thwart the desire for reading and calmer activities, and may heighten tensions. (See: The Psychological Effects of Violent Media on Children. Dr. Christopher L. Heffner.

Consider the possibility that crabby kids may simply be hungry. Though they must learn, as they mature, that it is never right to do wrong, small children may need healthy snacks to hold them over until meal time to keep them in a happy disposition. Be sure that each day starts with a healthy breakfast. Just because you are not hungry does not mean that your children do not need something to eat. Eating at least a light breakfast should be encouraged for good metabolism for the day. Have you noticed that most of the ready-to-serve cereals have a considerable amount of sugar and corn syrup added? A bowl of sweet "air" will not last long in an active youngster. Do a little boning up on nutrition and what it takes to be healthy at any age.  And don't forget to have meals together as a family at least once a day.

Provide structure for daily activities. Most of us function better with some routines This does not mean you must have a rigid lifestyle. But regular bedtimes, scheduled times for dinner, or other activities, will go a long way towards establishing a peaceful home life.

Pray As A Family

It is important to pray as a family. Pray before your children for a peaceful happy family. Be earnest in your prayers and in your living for the heavenly Father. Seek his righteousness in every day life (Mt. 6:33). Be faithful in your worship attendance (Heb. 10:25). Children learn from what they see and experience, as well as what they hear.

May you be blessed as you meet the challenges of rearing your children in the Lord (Duet. 6:5-7; Eph. 6:4). The rewards will be great when you succeed at the most important responsibility that you have (Prov. 31:28-31). Your young children will be the church of tomorrow—or not.

Recommended Reading

Jason Jackson. Who's Boss?
Wayne Jackson.The Destiny of Our Children: Nature or Nurture. 
Wayne Jackson.Television and Our Children.

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