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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

How to get your kids to be best friends.


    Growing up, I didn't have a close relationship with my older brother. He was an inside computer kind of guy, and I was an outdoor, soaking up the sun kinda girl. Neither are bad, just different. As children we didn't bridge the gap well, and we never really developed a great bond.

    Maybe I am the only mom who was afraid to have my second child. Not because I was remembering all of the difficulties of childbirth, adjusting to a new born, or even worrying how God would provide for another little on one income.

    I had visions of terrible sibling rivalry, jealousy and spending my time being a referee instead of the loving and attentive mom I was able to be with my only child. Then one day a friend with five children of her own said something that changed my perspective. She said, " Think of your second child as a gift you are giving your first child. You are giving them a friend that she will grow up with and experience life with."

  That was revolutionary for me! That started the quest to bring the Martin clan into a tight knit group of people who love unconditionally, give of themselves for the good of the family, and encourage each other in doing our best everyday. 

   I wanted our children to be best friends. Not that having friends outside of our family is bad. It is perfectly healthy to have other children as playmates. I wanted our children to understand that while friends were wonderful, they may come and go, but their siblings are friend that God has given to them. Here are some of the things we are teaching our children to accomplish this goal.

  1. Speak kindly to each other: This may seem obvious, but it is amazing how we can let this slide if we are not paying attention. Snarky, sarcastic tones have no place when you are talking with someone you respect and care about. If speaking kindly has been something of a problem, maybe do some self examination. I know that in my home, I am like the thermostat, if I'm hot (mad and irritable) then everyone around me is as well. Kids are so sensitive an pick up on our moods and tone of voice. 
  2. Ask forgiveness: When you wrong someone you need to go to them and ask forgiveness. It's not enough just to say a quick "sorry", but instead say will you forgive me for _____(the offense), it was ______(unkind, hurtful, selfish etc.). Then the other party forgives and gives a little hug to "seal the deal". It is so humbling to watch how forgiving children can be. "If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over." -Matthew 18:15
  3. Sharing a room: I know that not everyone will agree with this, but I have seen (or heard rather) so much of the bonding fellowship that happens between bedtime and lights out. They read stories to each other, tell jokes, giggle, sing songs, and yes sometimes even fight and make up. My children are also all the same gender so that makes room sharing easier. 
  4. Encouraging each other: Finding ways to get kids to cheer each other on is a great bonding experience. Whether it is a game of tee ball, or a ballet recital, or even an obstacle course you have set up in your back yard, it created and opportunity for this kids to rally for each other.
  5. Confront in love: If someone wrongs you (takes your toy, doesn't take turns, speaks without kindness etc.), the person who was wronged is to lovingly confront the one who has made the mistake. The purpose is to restore the relationship. they may something like " Sister, when you ______(the offense) I felt ________(how they felt as a result), could you please not do that anymore? Nine times out of ten the child who did wrong will say "sure!" and ask forgiveness and life continues on as before. This has taken some training, repetition, and reminders from Joel and myself, but it has been worth it not to have so much tattle tailing. I should also mention that we make a point to explain that if someone could get hurt then come get mom or dad right away. This is for the average sibling squabble. " If your brother sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over." -Matthew 18:15
  6. Make your family a team: We are not big on sports in this family, but I see the value in working together as a team. It brings and identity to a group of people, and a common goal. When I am doing our family clean up with the kids for example I say something like "Were all part of the Martin team". Roll your eyes if you want, but it really adds a sense of camaraderie. :-)
  7. Helping each other: When one child is struggling to slide their chair over to the sink for a drink of water, or having a hard time tying their shoe, resist the urge to jump in and save the day. Try suggesting to an older sibling how kind and thoughtful it would be if they offered some help. I have yet to have a child refuse to help when I am praising them before they even start!
  8. The "Blessing Challenge": Sometimes I present a challenge to the children. I ask them if they can think of a secret way to bless one of their siblings that day. Not to make a show of it, or for the praise, but just to put a smile on a sisters face. It might be something as simple as a bouquet of dandelions, or a hand drawn picture. It is a great habit to instill thinking of others more then thinking of themselves.
  9. Pray for one another: I heave heard it said that "The family that prays together, stays together". Prayer can bond a group of individuals in a way that only God can through talking to Him. I have seen many times if one of our littles is sick or hurt, another will pray for them. The neat thing is that this didn't take much in the way of training for us. Prayer has been a way of life for them right from the start, When we see an ambulance, we pray for the person inside and the EMT workers. When we see a fire truck, we pray for the safety of the firemen and the people that may be affected by the fire. When we wake up and start our school day, we pray. When we sit down to meals, we pray. I would encourage you to pray aloud when you are praying as well, so that you can model how to talk to God if you don't already. 
  10. Remind them often that their sibling is a person too: It's all too easy for a child to think, "oh that is just my little sister, it doesn't matter if I take this toy...after all I want it". It is SO important for them to realize that their sibling is a child of God too, and when they sin against them (taking a toy, hitting, screaming at them), they are also sinning against God. I also retell the scenario in a way that places them as the victim of the sin instead of the offender. Such as, "Now if your sister came up to you and took that toy away from you, how would you feel about that?" A great verse for kids to memorize and be reminded of is, " Do to others as you would have them do to you." - Luke 6:31
    So these are just some of the ways we create unity with our children, helping them to create life long bonds. Not every day is perfect, and we all mess up from time to time (even mom messes up), but when we make the effort to raise our kids to love and respect each other it will go a long way to help our kids become best friends. 

  I would LOVE to hear some of the ways you try to help your children to form the bonds of friendship! 


  1. Great post with much wisdom!

  2. Thanks Yvonne! Gad you enjoyed it.

  3. Really great post. I featured it on my fb. Thanks for linking up at Wonderful Wed Blog Hop. Carrie, A Mother's Shadow

  4. I'm so glad you liked it Carrie! I love that blog hop and really appreciate all of the awesome posts featured!