Joey and Carla Link
July 17, 2019
Follow the leader is a popular game for kids to play. Who are they following in your home? For siblings, the guidance of an older sibling is a powerful influence! This is why we often tell parents to work on the older one first and younger siblings will learnwhat to do and what not to do.
What about all the times your kids are playing a game together and the oldest child tells the younger ones they have to do what he says? You are busy doing laundry and while you are aware the sounds coming from the kids aren’t friendly you don’t do anything until you hear a child cry out because he got hurt. What is the older child teaching the younger children that you didn’t see? That you can boss someone around so when they have a cousin or friends come over, they can push them around to get their own way too?
The old saying is true, “More is caught than taught“. This is why we encourage parents to be very mindful about the character of an older sibling because their influence can have a greater impact on a younger child than all the parents’ work and training.
What are your older kids passing on to their younger siblings? We remember when our daughter Briana was vacuuming the family room. She was ramming the vacuum into her Mom’s new wall unit and Carla ran in to see what was going on. What was Briana’s response? She told Carla she didn’t understand why she had to do her brother Michael’s work. Carla checked the chore chart and saw that it was indeed Michael’s job to vacuum. She told Briana she didn’t know why she had to do Michael’s work either, but since she had started she had to finish and do a good job with no scratches on the wall unit.
Carla then went to see Michael. He laughed and told her if Briana was dumb enough to do it because he told her to then why should he stop her. Carla asked Briana what Michael had threatened her with to get her to do his chores and she just shrugged. Older brother’s bossiness won that one. We asked Briana if Michael had the freedom to decide who did what chore. She told us he said he did. We asked her how she could have found out if that were true and she responded by telling us she should have come to us, and yes she should have. Michael did not get off the hook. He got to do all of Briana’s chores the following week.
Proverbs 27:17 gives the gold standard of how siblings should work together.
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”
How can your kids “sharpen” each other?
- Have a routine for each of your kid’s day, no matter their age. You need to plan a routine for your young kids, but by age 9-10 they should be planning their own and running it by you to see if you have any changes.
- Plan for time together, time alone, time with each sibling, time for older siblings to play together and so on. When kids get used to this routine, they are thankful because it fulfills their need to be alone so they are then willing to give younger siblings time with a good attitude when they see it is only 15 – 20 minutes.
- Teach them to learn from each other.
- On a dad date, ask each of your kids ages 4 yrs. and up (on their own date) to think of ways they are teaching their siblings good things.
- Then ask him/her to think of ways they are teaching them to do the wrong thing. Ask them what Jesus thinks of that.
- As them to think of one way they can teach them the right thing to do instead and ask him if you can trust him to work on it that week.
- Ask them to share one way each of his siblings is teaching him a good thing.
- Provide opportunity for them to work together to learn from one another.
- Conflict comes from working together but so does sharpening.
- Ask one of your older kids to pick a younger sibling to work with to do something not on the normal chore list like rake leaves. Give them a section of the yard to do and then have another older child pick a sibling and give them a different section of the yard to do. When your kids pick a sibling they will usually take ownership of seeing the job gets done right.
- When one of your younger children is ready to take on new chores, invite him/her to ask an older sibling to show him how to do it. Ask the chosen sibling if you can trust him to do a good job of showing him the right way to get this task done.
- When you do this as a habit in your home, you will find the children inviting others to work on projects with them.
- Ask your kids how they can encourage each other.
- During a family night have encouragement as a theme (you might want to do this every few months).
- After talking and sharing and perhaps role playing, have them write on a 3×5 index card one way they can encourage each member of the family the upcoming week.
- Have them turn their cards in to you and let them know they can ask to see them at any time.
- Ask them if they have the freedom to share with a sibling when they see them doing something they shouldn’t?
- If they think they do, ask them where they got that freedom. Ask them what you would need to see to give them that freedom and let them know you will be watching to see when they are ready.
- When they get the freedom, work through with your kids the right way to confront. (Galatians 6:1). Make sure they understand what a “gentle rebuke” looks like and ask them what they should do if the one they are confronting has a bad attitude about it.
By teaching siblings to be willing to be sharpened and sharpen others properly, parents are teaching their kids to work gracefully with a spouse one day as well as with their own children.