Someone who is four years younger than you are walks up next to you and smashes the cake all to bits with a plastic hammer. Is that okay, because they are four years younger? Are you expected to smile warmly and say, well aren't you adorable and cute.
No ma'am. I think I might very well feel compelled to take that hammer and do a lil hammering myself. Upside somebody's head. I would be highly frustrated almost to the point of tears. Same thing with our children if they have just carefully balanced a tower of wooden blocks. Same thing with our children if they have just spent a long time setting up trains and tracks exactly the way they wanted them. Same thing ladies.
Younger siblings: the mommies are onto you big time. Please click below to read more.
You don't get to knock down everything and do whatever you want just because you're younger. We do need to make allowances for age appropriate behavior of course. And older siblings need to learn to be patient and gracious and forgiving. But we need to guard against rushing to the conclusion that whoever is older, or louder, is to blame for all conflicts.
People generally do not haul off and hit or push someone else, or shout at them, just for fun. They were most likely provoked. So when there is a conflict between two children, I think it is important to ask the Lord to help us get to the bottom of what happened and look at it from both sides. The older or louder child does have a side you know. Many times we come onto the scene at the end of the conflict. The loud part. The younger child was the beginning of the conflict, and no one saw that. The older child responds as I would if somebody messed up my cake (I'm still sore over that), and that is what we hear or see happening. We only see the second part of the conflict. So we might tend to not realize there was a first part at all.
Sometimes all my 5-year-old daughter needs is for me to say to her baby sister, "You need to be nice to Maggie. You can't grab things from Maggie. Maggie was using that crayon. Give it back to her. Now say you're sorry." She's only one year old so that sounds like, "Eh-wah." But it's something. And then make them hug, if they're not too spun up to go near each other. Or pray a little prayer with them about getting along.
I've told Maggie if I'm not in the room and her baby sister starts messing everything up, to shout out "Somebody please help me" and I will try my very best to get there lickety-split. And remove the princess doll dress from her sister's mischievous little grabby clutches. In a calm, big person way rather than the way a 5 year old would get it back, which is rather violent ("meow!"). And then I praise Maggie and tell her she's such a sweet sister to be patient and wait for help. I tell her I'm so sorry about her picture and scoot her out of the baby's reach a little better. Or I get the little one out of there and bring her along with me to mess up the laundry I was folding, instead of the picture Maggie was coloring. Or pull out all the pages in my address book and turn the dishwasher off before it is finished with the rinse cycle (two real time actual live examples for you ladies.)
Children need to know they can trust us to implement justice. Or they will feel compelled to take it into their own hands. And that's not pretty. Or they grow apart from each other emotionally because their side was never heard or appreciated. They never had any closure. A word of thanks for being patient with their younger siblings, a little warmth and acknowledgement that we do see that they are trying at least a little bit to be gracious to their younger siblings, inspires them to be even more long suffering.