Many of us begin homeschooling hoping our children will become good friends with one another in the process. Unfortunately, most families experience some conflict and that can put a damper on family relationships. But with God’s help, we can help our children become good friends, teaching them to work through their differences in a godly manner.
Here are some tips to help:
Tip #1 PRAY for your children and for wisdom!
Pray for God to work in your children’s lives, for godly character and good relationships within the family. Pray for His help and for wisdom to handle the struggles that come each day. HE IS FAITHFUL! He will help you and guide you in your parenting as you seek Him.
Tip #2: Foster close family relationships
God created the family to be a safe place to find love and acceptance. We can foster this by creating an atmosphere of love and appreciation for one another in our family.
- Talk with your children about the importance of loving and caring for family.
- Remind your children that friends will come and go, but family is forever!
- Encourage older children to be a good example of loving one another – they have a lot of influence over siblings, their loving and caring attitude will be contagious.
- Encourage children to treat their siblings with respect and appreciate their God-given differences. Compliment them when you see respectful, loving attitudes.
- Don’t compare your children to one another, especially in front of them.
- When a conflict arises, remain calm. Help your children talk through how they feel and what is happening. This trains them for dealing with future conflicts.
- Remind your children that God wants us to strive for peace. Romans 12:18 says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
Tip #3 Teach the root cause of conflict
Disagreements are a natural part of life because people have differing opinions or thoughts. However, when a disagreement or conflict turns into a fight or quarrel, the root cause will typically be a sinful attitude on the part of one or both parties.
James 4:1-2 says, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it.”
When we let our sinful attitudes take over (selfishness, greed, unforgiveness, laziness, pride, etc.) we’re typically living to please ourselves rather than trying to please God.
As children understand that sinful attitudes cause conflict, we can help them recognize their self-centeredness and sinful attitudes when they’re having a conflict. Ask them, “What do you think is the root cause of this conflict?” This often defuses the conflict as God reveals their sin and changes their heart.
Tip #4: Teach about loving God and having godly character
Being intentional to teach our children about God’s love, encouraging them to grow in their faith and helping them develop godly character traits all will help reduce conflict in your family.
Practical ways to do this:
1. Read the Bible, a devotional, or Bible study guide for families together every day.
2. Memorize verses related to character traits you want to see your children develop.
3. Focus on studying a specific character quality for a week or two as a family.
4. Watch for character training opportunities throughout the day.
Tip #5: Teach about how people deal with conflict
The Young Peacemaker is a great study for teaching children God’s way of dealing with conflict. Author Corlette Sande says conflict is like a slippery slope where we can slip into negative responses. Teaching your children about this slippery slope will help them recognize which response they’re using during conflict and equip them to deal with conflict God’s way!
Our family read The Young Peacemaker together and it truly helped transform relationships in our home! I highly recommend this study. (ages 5-15+)
Here are the three zones in the slippery slope:
(The Young Peacemaker, p. 22-23)
1. The Escape Zone:
If we slide off the slope into the escape zone, we respond to conflict with:
- Denial … I didn’t do anything wrong!
- Blaming … It’s their fault, not mine!
- Running away … If I just avoid this person, then I don’t have to deal with this problem.
2. The Attack Zone:
When we slide into this dangerous zone on the slippery slope we respond with:
- Fighting … I’m so mad, I’m going to hit you!
- Put downs … You’re stupid!
- Gossip … Joey is so mean, he…
3. The Work-It-Out Zone:
This zone is God’s way of handing conflict. Here we react to conflict by:
- Overlooking it… This isn’t a big deal. I don’t need to let this bother me.
- Talking it out …Could we talk about this and try to work it out?
- Asking someone to help us deal with it if we can’t … Mom, Joey and I are having a fight, could you help us work it out?
Using this slippery slope as a guide, help your children learn to deal with conflict God’s way.
Tip # 6: Teach about repentance, confession and forgiveness
Corlette Sande also says the most important skills we need to deal with conflict are repentance, confession and forgiveness. Taking responsibility for our wrong behavior and being sorry for it is key to reconciliation.
Teach your children these definitions and talk about how to apply them during a conflict:
- Repentance: the action of being sorry for your actions or attitude. The Bible says this includes a change in behavior as well.
- Confession: admitting that your actions, thoughts or words were wrong or sinful.
- Forgiveness: a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person.
I can’t promise you that you’ll have no conflict in your home when you apply all these tips, but I do believe God can use conflict to build character and deepen relationships, and He’s at work in our lives and our children’s lives. He will help us as we seek Him!
Questions for support group discussion:
1. How do you foster spiritual growth and building godly character in your home?
2. Share some effective ways you deal with conflict between siblings in your home.
3. How do you intentionally foster close relationships in your family?
4. Read through the slippery slope description in Tip # 5 and talk about how you see your children responding to conflict. Talk about ways you can use this model to teach them God’s way of handling conflict.
5. Share ideas for using conflict to help your children grow in character.
6. Take time to pray for one another regarding any prayer needs shared in this discussion
Growing the Fruit of the Spirit Kris Cox and Kris Hage
Making Brothers and Sister’s Best Friends Sarah, Stephen, and Grace Mally
The Young Peacemaker Corlette Sande
The Miller Family Series Mildred A. Martin
Character Companion for the Miller Series Kristyn Hage
The Heart of Anger Lou Priolo