Parents frequently ask us how they can teach their children to get along with each other. The more children in the family, the more opportunities there are for stress in those relationships. Because we had five young ones in our family, this was something we had to be very intentional about.
A child is born self-centered. They automatically cry to get their needs met. While that’s okay as babies, this would never be acceptable for an adult. So somewhere along the way, they will need to realize that they must begin to think of others in order to succeed in life. There’s no better place to learn this than at home.
No man is an island, so being able to get along is an extremely important life skill. In fact, John D. Rockefeller said that he would pay more for the ability to get along than he would for any other job qualifications.
Here are some of the ways we chose to cultivate getting along in our family.
- Appreciate each other. It’s important to help reinforce siblings’ appreciation of each other. One way we did this by simply pointing out things that each child excels at and teaching siblings to seek the counsel of one another in their areas of expertise.
Celebrate wins. Dinnertime is a perfect opportunity to make a big deal about each child’s recent accomplishments. Sharing their wins with siblings helps to give a mindset of consideration between brothers and sisters. This proved to be essential avenue for support within our family.
Compliment blast. Sometimes at mealtime we would focus on the “child of the day” (each of the children had a certain weekday in our home that was “their” day) by taking turns shouting out compliments to or about him. A great way to show support for one another!
Who is coming after me? This idea came from Growing Kids God’s Way by Gary Ezzo. The point is to realize how our actions may affect the next person. Put yourself in the shoes of the person coming behind you—how will your behavior benefit or bother them? Simple courtesies like putting grocery carts back in their stall or not picking flowers at a public park are ways to reinforce this.
Fight for the bottom. I believe our first exposure to this terminology came many years ago from Zig Ziglar. Fighting for the bottom means to put yourself last rather than first. Instead of choosing the biggest piece, pushing to the front of the line, and demanding to have your way, reward your children for putting others first.
Thinking of others has been a directive since way back in Bible times. Golden Rule living—treating others the way you’d want to be treated.
If you take opportunities to reinforce this others-mindedness, you will find that family life is more peaceful for everyone—whether you’re the giver or the recipient.
Question: How do you cultivate a culture of getting along with others in your home? Share your answer in the comments below.