Solving Sibling Squabbles

As you can imagine in a home with 9 children we have had a lot of opportunities to deal with sibling squabbles and it is one of the questions that we have been asked repeatedly, “How do you deal with arguing, fighting and tale bearing?”  Our answer:  “What are you talking about, our children never argue, fight or tattle tale.”  Complete sarcasm there, I couldn’t resist. 🙂

The simple answer is that we try to deal with arguments among our children by using the pattern that Christ  gives us  in Matthew 18 for dealing with arguments among brothers.

15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.
16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

This is how it works in our home.  Let’s use the example of child A taking a toy away from child B.  The first step would be for B to say nicely to A, “A, I was playing with that toy, will you please give it back to me?”  If A gives the toy back to B, then the disagreement is over and ended, just like in verse 15.  If A refuses to listen then child B comes to mom or dad and calmly tells us what happened, per verse 16 then mommy or daddy help settle the dispute.  (Here is how we deal with sin while showing love to our children.)  Obviously we have never had to appeal to the church, but that is an option if we ever have an older, rebellious child.

How a sibling squabble should look:

  • When child B comes to tell mom or dad something that child A did, our first question is always, “Did you speak kindly to A about your problem?”  If B did not then B is in trouble for not obeying mom and dad by speaking kindly to their sibling first.  If B is young enough to need a reminder, we remind them and then possibly help them role play through the process.  (We do this for children who are still learning to speak.)
  • If B did indeed speak kindly to A then A is in trouble for sinning against B and for not repenting when confronted with his/her sin.
  • If  A tells us that B began the whole problem then we pull both children together, get the whole story and deal with each one as needed.
  • If B did not tell us the whole story, (For example they took the toy away from A first or they hit A after A took the toy away.)  Then we deal with B for lying.  If they are young we usually prompt them with a question to help them remember that they need to tell us the whole story.  “Why did A take the toy away?”, “Did A have the toy first?” or “What did you do?”
  • After each child has been dealt with, the offending child/children must repent and ask forgiveness of the child/children that they offended.  In this example, A would say, “B, I was wrong for being unkind by taking the toy away from you, will you please forgive me?”   B would respond by saying, “I forgive you.” and they would hug.
  • The offending child/children must also repent and ask God to forgive him/her.  So child A would pray, “Dear God, I was wrong for being unkind to B by taking the toy away.  Will you please forgive me and help me by your power through the Holy Spirit to be kind to my sister/brother.”
  • One exception is if one child is physically violent to another child then the offended child may come directly to a parent and skip the first step.

To teach our children how to do this we role play with them.  Let’s say things went wrong.  Child A took the toy away and then child B yelled and grabbed the toy back and ….  Mommy hears the ensuing scuffle and comes into settle the dispute.  After dealing with the obvious sin, I will give the toy back to the child who took it away and we will role play how the disagreement should have been settled.

We begin this process of confrontation and repentance as soon as our children begin to use words,  generally around their first birthday.  Obviously, we guide them step-by-step through the process, it goes something like this:

Big kid takes a car away from baby and baby begins to scream.  Mommy comes over and says, “Baby, no screaming!” and gives baby a swat on the hand,  hugs baby and then asks, “Did big kid take your car away from you?   I’m sorry, but you may not scream.  Come ask big kid to give your car back.”  Then Mommy guides baby through the words to say and baby says, “mama sss ma ma ma ma.”  Which of course means, “Big kid please will you give me my car back.”  Now mommy and baby wait for big kid to respond.  If big kid gives the car back, mommy praises both baby and big kid for being kind and handling the disagreement in a godly manner, problem solved.  In some cases big kid may need further instruction and usually big kid needs to repent and ask forgiveness for taking the car away in the first place.  All arguments should end with hugs.  It is amazing how quickly our children have caught on to this.  It is not uncommon to hear baby babbling and then to see big kid hand a toy back, sometimes they just need a little reminder.

This training requires more work on the parents part than just letting them fight it out, but the reward is a more peaceful home and children who know how to solve conflicts Biblically.  Like almost everything worthwhile, it takes time, hard work and patience in order to see long term results.

Some parents have said that children need to learn to handle disputes on their own and that by our constant supervision we are teaching them to be dependent on mom and dad whenever they have a conflict rather than teaching them how to deal with it independently, i.e. without any parental involvement.  Our perspective is that if Jesus in Matthew 18 instructs his disciples to get help from others in a conflict where one brother will not listen to another brother, it seems a bit presumptuous for us to expect our children to work out difficulties more independently than these grown men.  In our experience, we deal with a lot of conflicts when our children are small, but once they reach age 3 or 4 the amount of fighting subsides.  We still frequently deal with unkind speech, but probably only deal with direct conflict between our children (excluding the two youngest) a few times a month, perhaps less.

Here are some other rules of behavior in our home:

  1. No screaming, yelling, hitting, etc.  All of these things are dealt with before we even hear what caused the problem.
  2. No physically taking anything away or picking up/moving a sibling unless they are a danger to themselves or others.  For example, if Nicholas (1) has a marker which he is not allowed to have, no one, except mom or dad, has the authority to physically take it away.  They must say, “Nicholas, please give me the marker”  and wait for him to give it to them.  If he doesn’t then they proceed to step 2 and come tell mommy.
  3. Big kids have a responsibility not to boss little ones around.  They may remind little ones of the rules. (No running upstairs, no jumping on the couch, etc.) and they may make requests of the younger children (Please don’t touch my knitting, will you please quiet down?), but they must be very careful about giving commands.
  4. Little kids have the responsibility to obey bigger kids.  If a big kid reminds them of a rule (no running upstairs) and they continue to disregard the rule, then they are in double trouble, 1. for disobeying the rule and 2. for not heeding wise counsel.
  5. All the children have the responsibility to respect their siblings.  If someone makes a request, we expect that request to be obeyed or for the child to appeal to mom if they aren’t sure it is a reasonable request.  They may not just ignore a request.
  6. Occasionally Mark or I will give authority to a big kid to watch the little kids.  When this happens the little ones must obey the big kid even if they are being unreasonable.  (This is different from asking one child to keep an eye on another child, rules number 3 and 4 apply to that situation.  This is when mom and dad are going out and will not be immediately available.)  We have never had the little children disobey a bigger kid in this situation,  probably because of #7
  7. We only give authority to children who have proven themselves faithful in little things.  If a child is not faithful in their chores, school work and relationships we do not give them authority over their siblings.
  8. If a big kid is unreasonable when given authority they are corrected and loose the privilege.  (We have never had to deal with this, probably because of #7.)
  9. In order to train our big and little kids for this type of authority shift, we will give a big kid a task to help a little kid complete.  (Help little kid to get his shoes on.)  We teach the little one to obey their older sibling sweetly and the older sibling to serve the younger one by being kind and making it fun.
  10. Speak kindly.

Here are some rules that Mark and I try to follow:

  1. Pray specifically for each of our children and for each of their relationships every day.
  2. Be within earshot of the children, so that we can hear if there are disagreements.  We have found that our children are all too happy to deal with disagreements independently.  There have been a couple of times that relationships have suffered because of  long term unkindness that was not properly dealt with.
  3. Be consistent.  Don’t ignore screaming (or anything else) just this one time.
  4. Don’t let the baby act like a brat just because he/she is tired/hungry/teething/ate too much sugar.  Be understanding (maybe they need some extra hugs), but don’t simply excuse bad behavior.  (We had no problem with this with our older children, but we need to remind ourselves more often with our younger ones.)
  5. Don’t skip repentance, forgiveness and hugs.  Our kids need to know that the relationship is restored.  This is obvious with our little ones.  When they have sinned they repent, usually without being asked, and as soon as they are finished they throw themselves into our arms and get a huge snuggle.

How do you handle sibling disputes?

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47 Responses to Solving Sibling Squabbles
  1. mumo6
    October 6, 2009 | 9:25 am

    Thank you for such a clear and Godly picture of how to deal with sibling ‘stuff’. I am firing off your URL to my daughter, who has three girls under three, and printing up your post to read to and give to my four still-home kids (ages 10-13). These are the principles we have tried to operate under, but we’ve never had such a clear expression of them. (Little voice in my head saying, “This is the clearliest!” Back to grammar, I guess.)
    Thank you for sharing your application of His words of Life!

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  2. Celee
    October 6, 2009 | 10:21 am

    This is very helpful to me. I had been trying to do the same thing with them, but hadn’t actually connected it to Mathew 18. Being able to teach resolution to them from the Scriptures will make a big difference! Thank you!

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  3. Fruitful Harvest
    October 6, 2009 | 10:49 am

    Great post~
    Amen sister~

    Blessings,
    Georgiann (momma of 6 so far)

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  4. Kristin Mikarts
    October 6, 2009 | 10:55 am

    Thank you for this post! I really appreciate the part about how you handle the little ones who don’t speak yet. My littlest is 4, but doesn’t have words yet. He just screams at his brother. I think your approach is much better! I’m starting it NOW!!!

    Your family is such a blessing to me!
    Kristin

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  5. Heather
    October 6, 2009 | 11:23 am

    Kimberly, this is great! We do many of these things, but I really plan to print this out and try to go more step by step with my children. Many of them are older and we thought we were “done” (what was I thinking??) But, now that our 4 yr. old is coming up, we’re teaching everything all over again:) I do have a question that I’d love your opinion on. I have a blended family. I have a very difficult time with two of my stepchildren and teasing. This is something they learned to do very early on and I cannot seem to get rid of it. As they are older, I ignored the behavior and had their Father work with them on it…because they pretty much just do it to each other (in the past) Now, we have our youngest child, and J & C really tease her way over the top–it really angers me and leaves the 4 yr. old angry without really understanding why. Do you have any advice on dealing with this?

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    Raising Olives Reply:

    Thank you all for taking the time to leave a comment. I enjoy hearing from you!

    Heather – I feel completely out of my league talking about step children. I haven’t thought about that and am not sure if being a step parent warrants a different reactions. That issue aside. I would suggest you sitting everyone down and explaining what you expect from here on out. If you have been wrong for ignoring the behavior, then I would ask for their forgiveness. Clearly tell them what you expect, even writing it down and posting it where everyone can look at it so that there is no question. Then be consistent in enforcing your standards.

    Kimarie – You are absolutely right about parents needing to be good examples in repentance. My children are all VERY aware of my besetting sins, firstly because they see them displayed way too often, but also because I constantly ask them to forgive me. This is important and something that I will add to the post when I have time. Thank you!

    Kristen – We have also been very imperfect in our application. I’m thankful that God gives us so much more than we deserve. I pray that God will give you wisdom as you deal with your son.

    Sandpiper – I understand what you are talking about. When we have children who seem to be having particular difficulties, we make even more of an effort to stay close to them. When it gets out of control we sometimes don’t even go into the who, what, when, etc. I simply ask them if they were kind and loving to their sibling, if they say “no” then we deal with the unkindness without going into the specific details. Ultimately it doesn’t matter who started it or who did what. What does matter is if they obeyed God’s command to “Be ye kind one to another.”

    Chantelle – Thank you for sharing the link.

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  6. Anita Chamblee
    October 6, 2009 | 11:46 am

    Great post. Very much like Doorpost’s Brother Offended booklet and chart which I need to bring out…..again!!

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  7. Kimarie
    October 6, 2009 | 11:51 am

    What a blessing, Kimberly! Thanks for this post – two parts really resonated with me. One, about being near to hear your children and stepping in all the time, so that there is no long-term unkindness going on. We’ve had some difficulties in that area that we are still unraveling, but huge progress is being made by God’s grace. Second, the inadvertent skipping of repentance, forgiveness, and hugs part. Ack! This is too easy for me when things get busy! We have also found that how a child asks forgiveness of a sibling is very telling to see if they are truly repentant. What a blessing to see those little hearts melt, faces smile, and fellowship restored! Yes, it DOES take time, but it is time well spent.

    One other thing comes to mind – I’ll never forget this. I was pregnant with our first child, and was visiting our pastor’s home. A little child came to the mom and respectfully said something, then I heard the mom say, “Oh, so YOU weren’t the one, it was your sister?” Tearfully, the little girl nodded. The mom gathered her into her arms and said, “I am SO sorry, I was in a hurry – will you forgive me?” I was floored that a parent would ask forgiveness of a little child – and that lesson has never left me! We must lead by example. Even when things get busy, tough, and we sin against our children either by parenting wrongly, or neglecting them, a genuine repentance on OUR part spoken to them can make all the difference in the world!

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  8. Kristen
    October 6, 2009 | 12:11 pm

    Great advice Kimberly. Those are all things that I would seek to do, but have been imperfect in their application. Here is the big problem in our family. Our 11 year old especially is not repentant. I can make him say words but it’s obvious he is lying. I don’t really want him to get better at faking repentance so I’m not sure how many times I should make him repeat the obviously untrue statement until he gets his voice right. This is something we’ve been struggling with for years it seems.

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  9. Allyson
    October 6, 2009 | 1:36 pm

    Thanks for sharing this! We do something very similar at our house!

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  10. Mama Mirage
    October 6, 2009 | 2:18 pm

    Thank you for sharing this! Great advice. My children do not fight with each other yet. They are only 3 and 1.

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  11. Charlotte
    October 6, 2009 | 4:12 pm

    Thanks a lot for this post, I did not know I needed an answer to that question. As always your blog is like sunrays on a rainy day. Thanks again

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  12. Sandpiper
    October 6, 2009 | 9:29 pm

    Thanks for posting this! I agree that the resolution needs to be followed through, but I have to admit that I haven’t always been consistent. What do you do for ‘bickering’? I have two children who seem to fall into this almost daily lately. A comment will get made and then there is a come-back and sometimes it happens so fast I can’t stop it before they’ve made a mountain out of a molehill! I find myself quoting “Let no unwholesome talk come out your mouths, but only what is helpful for others that it may benefit those who listen” all of the time!

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  13. Nicki
    October 6, 2009 | 10:37 pm

    Thank you! This was very insightful. I plan to include some of your suggestions in our home! One thing I have found, as a homeschool mom, is that sometimes we have to make time to learn behavior and put ‘school’ on the back burner for a day (or longer!). School falls apart if kids don’t behave in the little areas. Thanks again!

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  14. Grace
    October 6, 2009 | 10:49 pm

    Wow! I never looked at correction this way and just today i was asking myself how to handle correction with my 2 year old. This has given me insight! thank you much for sharing your experiences!

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  15. Amy
    October 6, 2009 | 10:56 pm

    Wow… I love your method of solving conflict based out of Matthew. I can’t wait to sit down with my husband and read this whole post together!

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  16. Hannah
    October 6, 2009 | 11:13 pm

    I needed this post so badly. It was very timely. I am just learning this whole sibling dynamic, and our 16 year old is really having a hard time in his role as big brother understanding what his responsibilities are and how to handle conflict with his 10 year old brother.

    I am also going to pass this along to friends who have two little ones, a 3 year old and 18 month old. I think they will find it very helpful.

    Blessings!

    Hannah

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  17. meclarks
    October 7, 2009 | 12:32 am

    How did you know I was rereading Ginger Plowman’s Don’t Make Me Count to Three? This is the system we use with our girls, and I have definitely needed a refresher course lately! I think I sometimes forget how much teaching time it took for our oldest to learn, remember, and apply the concepts, and now I tend to just expect our younger daughter to “just know” how to interact with her sister. Thanks for the reminder!

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  18. Shelle
    October 7, 2009 | 11:03 am

    Great post. I would agree with you, but my husband is more on the side of sin is sin and needs to be punished. I wish more would be taught about disciplining children, so many people think this, when in fact it means training. I just have to guess that this has generally been the way things were done for so many generations.

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  19. kim
    October 7, 2009 | 1:09 pm

    Hi Kimberly,
    I accidently stumbled upon your blog because of your raingutter bookshelves, which I sooo can’t wait to make. After reading a post or two I decided that this blog was worth following.

    This post was very enlightening for me. At times I thought, “wow intense.” But I understand with multiple children how the Lord has led you firmly to these things with clarity and grace. I LOVE how you work with your children to resolve things in a Christ like manner and am sure that the Lord overwhelms your family with blessings because of your love and dedication for him. Thanks for sharing, and not in a “matter-of-factly” way, but with genuine kindness. In my circle I am the pioneer mom, and definitely need a couple of moms who can share their experience and guidance. In your case I guess I would be kinda new at this 😉 I have Jenna (3) and Elijah (1).

    Thank you again. May the Lord bless you all abundantly.

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  20. Chantelle - ThousandSquareFeet
    October 7, 2009 | 1:39 pm

    Thank you so much for stating what my heart has been wanting and my head just didn’t figure out how to implement. We have always made the children apologize and ask for forgiveness of each other but it was the nitty-gritty details that I needed to work out. Thanks for pointing me in the right direction. I hope it was okay that I linked to this blog entry! You said it all so well!

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  21. Eliza Welch
    October 10, 2009 | 12:17 am

    Excellent points!

    I really enjoyed looking around your lovely blog and would absolutely love it if you would stop by my blog!
    Eliza’s Blog

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  22. Karrie Z.
    October 19, 2009 | 12:54 pm

    Thank you so much for this post. And I thank the Lord for bringing me here. There has been lots of fighting and anger in our house lately and I have been overwelmed with what to do to tackle it. I will be printing this up and trying to folllow it to restore our household!

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    Raising Olives Reply:

    Thank you for taking the time to comment and encourage me.

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  23. Emily
    January 10, 2010 | 12:31 am

    I have a question more about the baby. My little guy is 5 months and is super sweet but has really been struggling with teething. He seems to be very agitated a good deal of the time and cries ALOT! We give him infant pain relief, teething tablets etc and I nurse him when he needs to be soothed. I dont think we are letting him be a brat but we do get really tired of his fussing. He started teething so early too. He finally got one tooth! How do you address the crying with your babies when pain is a factor? and it is constant?!
    ps, he is my 4th so I am not a teething newby, he is much needier than all my other children in this stage.
    Would love your thoughts!
    Emily

    [Reply]

    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Oh poor baby and mommy.

    When they’re in pain (and that little) and crying a lot we just give them lots of love and live through it.

    Another help may be baby wearing. I couldn’t figure out how mommy’s could wear their babies for long periods of time until I began to experiment with baby carriers. My favorite for little babies (3 months and under) or for when the baby is going to be taking a nap is a Moby Wrap. For everything else we LOVE the Ergo.

    Also, (and I’m sure you already know this, but in case you tend to forget like I do) once they are accustomed to crying and being coddled all the time, they tend to like to keep that the status quo even when they’re feeling better. So pay attention and when he’s feeling better don’t let him continue to rule the roost.

    Hope he feels better soon.

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    Mellissa Reply:

    Babywearing is such a major part of my parenting style because I feel it is a tool to help me show the love of Christ to my little ones without putting the rest of the household on hold. I am so excited that you mentioned my two favorite carriers. God has truly blessed me through this blog, giving me hope and encouragment through so much of what you say. Thank you!

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  24. Angela
    July 27, 2010 | 12:42 pm

    Beautifully written! I’ve used this method but, not fully realizing I was using a scripture based method. I also believe we need to teach our children how to communicate. They just don’t know how.. just like all the other things they don’t know how to do. And screaming…I cant stand screaming children it raises my blood pressure. I am surprised at how many parents allow this. Good to hear someone else teaches their children not to scream.
    Ang.

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  25. […] What is the best way to guarantee that Colby (3) and Nicholas (2) will start fighting and squabbling?  Get out this month’s featured toy from Constructive Playthings, the Countdown Racer.    Sadly this is not a joke nor an exaggeration. Both boys LOVE this silly car.  It has given us a multitude of opportunities to practice our method for solving sibling squabbles. […]

  26. Babychaser
    November 11, 2010 | 3:21 pm

    Hi, I know it’s been a while since you posted this, but I have a question about your procedure for asking God’s forgiveness, etc.

    Do you follow the same process for children who have not chosen to follow the Lord yet and therefore do not have the Holy Spirit within them? Do you do anything different?

    Thanks!
    Babychaser

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    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    That is a terrific question.

    Being consistent with our theology we expect our children to behave as children of the King whether God has already changed their hearts or not. So, the answer to your question is that we have our children pray and ask God for forgiveness whether or not they have been saved. 🙂

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    April Reply:

    We use most of this method and it’s really nice to have it written out in a nice concise blog post I can forward to new moms! We did make our oldest pray for forgiveness for six months to a year and then we had a pastor and family member advise we stop because forcing someone to pray and ask forgiveness would in his opinion “provoke your children to anger” from Eph 6:4. We had read Shepherding a Child’s Heart and gone through some parenting classes by our church that both laid out this method without the prayer part. So we stopped having him do that. We now have 4 kids and the oldest is almost 9. What are your thoughts on how Eph 6:4 relates to forcing a child to pray? Many times we pray for the child before they go about the day again asking God to help them fight the temptations to sin.

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  27. Babychaser
    November 11, 2010 | 8:29 pm

    Thanks!

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  28. krista
    January 14, 2012 | 11:52 pm

    Thanks for the rules of behavior. Seems like I tell them no xyz consistantly, but never had a formal set of rules. Ours are pretty much the same, but your wording is much more concise. It’s encouraged me to sit down with hubby to draft up something more formal. Thanks!

    Homeschool mom of 4 with #5 on the way.

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  29. Krista
    January 15, 2012 | 7:17 pm

    I was wondering. As far as the no screaming goes. My fourth is 15 months and he’s the type that he’s fine until momma walks in the room. I often have my oldest watch him in another room when I’m making dinner and such. I do not coddle him and none of the others were so clingy. I don’t babywear since I’m 6 mo. pregnant and have minor back problems. Is this a need to discipline/train against being a fussy baby? Additionally, there seems to be points when I discipline that it only increases the bad behavior (discipline for fit throwing/kicking during diaper changes and such). Any thoughts?

    [Reply]

    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Hi Krista,

    About your 15 month old screaming here are my suggestions.

    1. Make sure he’s getting enough love and attention. Some kids just need more (lots more) than others. Take some time just before you start dinner to sit down and read a book making sure to give him plenty of physical contact.

    2. Let him be in the kitchen with you if possible and allow him to ‘help’ you as you work. Little ones love to be involved.

    3. You’re his mom and know him best, it is possible that this is a behavior that requires discipline/training and you will know that better than me. 😉

    Keep on keeping on. God promises reward for faithfulness.

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  30. Lisa
    February 16, 2012 | 9:59 am

    Thanks for this post! I wish someone would have shared something like this when my kids were little! Now that they are teenagers they have a love/hate relationship. I often am frustrated when things come to name calling and blows. I never knew what to do until now. Hopefully, we can start now with these steps and help their relationship grow further! TY for being such a good example!

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  31. Ellie
    February 19, 2012 | 10:28 am

    My husband and I just read this. Thank you very much for sharing. You put it together so clearly and concisely. My husband said, “we should implement this today.” and we already have. I’ve never heard this issue addressed so clearly and I thank God for your input.

    [Reply]

  32. SabrinaT
    February 23, 2012 | 6:56 am

    I read your post, and feel compelled to ask 1 question.

    You stated

    Mommy comes over and says, “Baby, no screaming!” and gives baby a swat on the hand, hugs baby and then asks,

    Yet one of your rules are No screaming, yelling, hitting,

    As a Christian, I am confused about the do as I say and not as I do?

    [Reply]

    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    First and foremost, as a Christian I am compelled to obey God and His Word. (Prov. 13:24, 22:15 and 23:13 are just a very few of the passages that speak about discipline and children)

    Secondly, your standard of only requiring your children to do as you do, is not only unbiblical, but dangerous.

    For example, I instruct my children to stay away from the cleaning supplies, stay away from the hot stove, not to tell their siblings what to do, never ever turn on the engine of a car and yet I do all of those things.

    I require my children to hold an adult’s hand when they cross the road or walk through the parking lot, I make them take naps and have them go to bed at bedtime, I require them to do their school work and get permission to go outside and yet I do not require any of those things for myself.

    Any adult who only requires or forbids actions from their children that they require or forbid of themselves would be, in my opinion, very hard pressed to be a good parent.

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  33. Lisa
    May 30, 2012 | 12:11 am

    Hi Kimberly,
    Thanks so much for sharing this amazing post!
    My question is this…I have an older child (teen) who has taken to saying unkind and sarcastic comments to his younger sibblings. The youngers then follow his lead and speak in the same tone back to him: basically we have a volley of hurtful comments. Can you share ideas for helping to deal with this? I struggle with age-appropriate consequences for an older child. Thank you!

    [Reply]

    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Hi Lisa,

    That’s such a hard thing when big kids set a poor example for the younger ones. We haven’t really had to deal with that yet.

    I think that age-appropriate consequences for an older child are the consequences that God has laid out for us in Scripture.

    May God bless your family!

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  34. Paula
    September 26, 2012 | 11:44 pm

    I just had to say thanks for this. I have two kids so far (3 and 1) that NEVER seem to get along. I was beginning to think I’d just have to hang in there until they get older, but this gave me a lot of good ideas for things I can start doing now. Thanks again!

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  35. Kristin Dillow
    June 13, 2013 | 10:10 am

    I noticed in this post and today’s post,you referenced many times that if an older (lets say 5 and up) child did not obey, they were in trouble. Do you give consequences for the older children when they disobey in a conflict and sin against a sibling like you shared your example with your one year old screaming?

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    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Yes, when a child disobeys there are consequences. Does that answer your question?

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    Kristin Dillow Reply:

    What are the consequences you use for older kids? Thanks for your quick reply 🙂

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    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    For our family the Bible is the standard when it comes to giving consequences for disobedient children.

    After all, the only reason that we as parents have any authority to require our children to obey us is because the Bible commands that children obey their parents. For this reason, we choose to follow the Bible’s standards for consequences for disobedience.

    I wrote more about that here and here.

    Of course, there are always consequences for our sin, whether parents self-consciously administer them or not. For example, parents who NEVER correct any of their children’s behavior are unlikely to have children who are extremely polite, responsible, hard workers and pleasant to be around. Those children will live with the consequences of the behaviors that are allowed to go unchecked.

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