|Yes, they really were as sweet to each other as they look in this picture--with a lot of orneriness thrown in for that little guy on the right! ;)|
I am going to start our series with toddlers and work up chronologically. Those of you with only little kids can do some key things early on to avoid fighting and bickering between/among your children.
Two of those things are elaborated on in general (not just for fighting) in the article below, but here are some thoughts applying to the first one--SETTING YOUR LITTLE ONE'S TASTES FOR KINDNESS:
Set your little one's tastes for kindness--in our parenting seminar, we teach about how Hebrew midwives would put a dab of date paste on infants' tongues to give them a taste for Hebrew foods--and the verses that apply that to parenting and giving our children tastes for things early on.
We believe (and have experienced it with our seven children) that as parents we can set our children's tastes for good things--obedience, kindness, contentment, etc.
In terms of siblings, this means that we set their tastes for loving siblings, for kindness to their brothers and sisters, etc. from toddlerhood. Here are some thoughts on carrying this out:
1. Speaking kind words to our littles
2. Hushing them when they shout, scream, say no to you or other authority or in general are harsh/not kind--NEVER let it go!
3. Using vocabulary with them from the beginning that teaches them kindness ("let kindness be on our tongues")--words like "be nice to sissy; we love sissy" and "don't shout at her; say nice words" and "be nice"--but not just as passing, trite phrases--more like "these are our family's ways and words"
4. Pick the child up, hold him firmly, use wording from above, and be his external control when he has none. Don't just take the toy and give it back and say a passing "be nice"--really take the time to give him a taste for kindness whenever he starts to show meanness. If it continues in that setting, pull him out entirely (and put him in his crib). Do not ever let meanness continue in a toddler--remember, you are setting his tastes for kindness to siblings and others.
Our daughter who is expecting a baby boy in January (her first) just said the other day, "Our little boy is going to be so cute--and sweet just like the boys were when they were little" (her younger brothers).
What makes her think that her little boy will be sweet? She knows that it is possible to set his tastes for kindness. She knows it can be done--and is going to try her best to do it. I just love that! ;)
Here is a past blog post about setting tastes and character training in toddlers.