4 Ways to Tame Sibling Taunting

I’ve heard a new common cliche from lots of young moms over the last several years. “I want to make sure I do everything right so I don’t mess my kid up.” Or, “I wonder how much counseling my kid will need because of something I’ve inflicted on them?”

While I understand that it is easy to get in the mindset that we can completely determine the outcome of our kids’ future by our actions, I wonder if our inaction might be causing more of a problem?

For several years I’ve been paying close attention to family interactions when I’m with friends who have teens.  As I watch the way some siblings treat each other, I wonder if their parents understand the pain and potential damage that is being caused by the demeaning way they treat each other.  My next thought is, “What are they doing to keep their children from believing the verbal lies that are being inflicted?”

First let me say that I get that there can be sibling rivalry, jealousy, and sometimes bullying even in the best of families.  Kids will be kids and as I’ve often heard it said, “If you don’t believe in the devil, you haven’t had kids.”  Truer words have not been spoken.

I’ll admit there have been cruel things that have taken place even in my own family.  My kids have hurt each other at times doing deplorable things all in the name of “fun”.  I’ve seen the despicable way my children have behaved toward each other at times.  And as my kids have become older, I can still see remnants of those harsh words that were spoke to them by their siblings.  

When my kids were younger, I’ll admit that I didn’t have the skill set to impact those situations in a healthy way.  Responses such as “quit doing that to your sister” or “leave your brother alone” were uttered without much action.  Oh, sure, I might send the perpetrator to their room or issue a consequence as a way of getting their attention, and I might even interact with the child that was hurt and tell them I was sorry.  But now, I can see that those actions were not enough.

As I work with women across the country, I see the same wounding in many.  Wounds delivered in childhood or the teen years by people that either want to be seen as “better than” trying to raise the bar in their social ladder or those who because of their own pain choose to hurt others.  The scars are still there.  And it makes me so sad.

So what are some things we can do to help our kids learn that others are precious?  How can we help them see that jealousy, one-ups-man-ship, and name calling and other demeaning gestures have no place in our homes?

  1. Take inventory of how you and your husband speak to one another and to the kids.  Is it something that builds the other up or tears them down?  If you discover that your own lips utter put downs and disparaging remarks, take steps to change the habit.
  2. Rally the troops (hopefully both parents together on the issue) and have conversation about what the Bible says about these behaviors.  Take a stance on what the new behaviors will be in your home.  If everyone is speaking the same or similar language, i.e. disparaging remarks, come up with a system so that the “receiver” has an opportunity to say something that sparks an apology.  I know one family used “ouch” as a reminder when something said was hurtful.
  3. When you become aware of the behavior, call a halt.  Let’s face it, sometimes a cooling off period in their room is a good place to start.  After they’ve cooled down, have a one-on-one talk about appropriate behavior and how they have hurt the other sibling.  Encourage them to apologize for the offense.  (Be sure to teach them how to give a full, sincere apology.)
  4. And most importantly, be sure to console the underdog.  Help the child name his feelings.  Listen as he tells his story.  Show tenderness and assure the child that what was said over him is not true.  Let him know that you are on his side and no one should treat him that way.  Pray together asking God to let him forgive his brother for what he did.  Maybe even encourage him to go to the sibling (with a parent there to coach) and let him tell how he feels and how he hopes it won’t happen again.  Make sure this child feels heard and knows he didn’t deserve what he received from his brother.

I know that kids do dumb things at times and our kids need to be able to deal with a little lighthearted teasing so they can deal with the real world; however, don’t we want our home to be a safe haven for our kids?  What if our homes were known for the peace within them?  After all, don’t we want those hurt feelings to not sting quite as much during the holidays when our kids all get together as adults?

2 Corinthians 13:11

Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.

Praying your new year is full of peace, love, and laughter.

“Let go…and Let God”,


Why not start off the year assessing changes that could make a difference in your parenting?  With All Due Respect isn’t just a book to read, it’s a place to start conversation with other moms, your spouse, or even just a place to ponder the decisions you make as a parent.  It’s guaranteed to help you look at parenting differently as you work through the exercises.


What Can I Do About Bullying?

A common theme that seems to resonate in our groups who are doing the book With All Due Respect centers around the bullying that most teens and tweens experience at some point in their lives.  As moms we question how we can help our kids through the ordeal and most of us wonder if we should get involved.

The good news is that you know about the bullying.  That says that you’ve earned your child’s trust enough for him to come to you.  It’s sad how many kids have endured horrific ordeals or taken their own life just because they felt that there was no one to turn to.  

So if you know about it, pat yourself on the back and be sure to give your kid a hug for sharing his/her dilemma with you.

As parents most of us realize that the implications of long-term effects of bullying can be carried into every phase of life for decades to come.  Not only does bullying derail our kid’s self-esteem in a way that can make them either retreat to their own cocoon or lash out with behaviors that we’d prefer our kid not engage in, but research shows that it can become a trigger for similar behaviors that remind our kids of the same feelings of shame or frustration at any point in time.

The thing we need to know as parents is the best way to help our kids deal with the situation. It is imperative that we help them create healthy relationships that will boost their self-esteem and give them confidence.  We can do that by making sure they realize who they are.

So what are some ways we can boost their confidence and help them understand their true identity?

  1. Make sure they understand their value in your family.  Encourage them, hug them, be there for them, listen, and give them family responsibilities.  While there are more, know that these things will give them a sense of belonging.
  2. Help them find identity with a group.  Kids this age need to connect outside the family.  Whether it is through sports, dance, art, or youth activities, our kids need to identify with a group.  It not only helps them feel good about themselves but gives them strong friendships.
  3. Let you kids know who they are in Christ.  Help your child understand that God created them uniquely and allows difficulties in their lives to make them stronger.  Pray with your kids often.
  4. Give them opportunities to produce.  My husband Dave and I were talking about this earlier today.  In today’s society it is not uncommon for mom and dad to just do everything for their kids or to give them step by step instructions looking over their shoulder as they do the work.  Sometimes confidence is better achieved by giving our kids a task and letting them figure it out on their own.  Regardless of the outcome of the project (good or bad results), just thank them for doing the work and move on.

If your child has a strong sense of confidence and identity and is still being bullied, perhaps what he needs is a set of skills to help him work through the situation.  One good website is https://www.helpguide.org/articles/abuse/dealing-with-bullying.htm. Keep in mind that unless this is a situation of life and death for your child, he will gain more confidence if he takes the lead without you stepping into the middle of it.  

Here are some things you can do as a parent.

  1. Coach your child through the process daily until it is resolved. Spend time strategizing what might work and allow them to role play with you to determine how they will handle the situation.  It will help build confidence.
  2. Help your child enlist the help of his friends.  Encourage your child to share the situation with his friends.  If he can do that while his friends are visiting in your home it might allow you to reinforce the severity of the situation and develop a strategy with all of them.
  3. Be sure to also give your child lots of grace during this difficult season.  Know that emotionally he might not be as engaged with school work or chores and might tend to be more moody or volitile.  Understanding on your part will go a long way.
  4.  Encourage you child to PRAY for the bully and FORGIVE him/her.  God can do an amazing work in our kid’s life when they learn to forgive.  Social norms tell our kids to get even, but forgiveness can help our child learn to importance of surrendering to God’s role as judge.  Verses like 1 Peter 2:23 and Luke 23:32-34 might help.

1 Peter 2:23

who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.

Luke 23:34

 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

Parenting in the midst of our child’s difficulties can give opportunity for you and your child to look at true injustice in the world in which we live.  Even though as a parent you might want to take action–and we should if the situation is life or death–it’s better to walk beside our child in the midst of these type of struggles giving opportunity to teach our kids what mature behavior can look like during trials and our need for dependence on God.

Dare you to not only walk with your child when faced with bullying, but to also help them discover their true identity a child of the King.

“Let go…and Let God”,

Why not grab a few moms with kids ages 9-24  and go through With All Due Respect together?  Those who have told us that it has been life-changing!  Just last week I got an email from a woman who said that during her group study she got a call from the principal at her son’s school.  Having worked through the book she knew exactly how to handle the situation with the principal and her son.  We’ve been told it’s like having a parenting manual that makes an impact in times of parenting difficulties.